Our top 10 Derek Trucks Band songs list looks at the body of work of an American band founded by guitarist Derek Trucks. The Derek Trucks Band was formed in 1994 taking on a blend of blues rock, southern rock, and jazz rock among other sub-genres. At the core of the band’s musicianship was its frontman Derek Trucks, a highly acclaimed slide guitarist also famed for his immense contribution as a member of The Allman Brothers Band and the Tedeschi Trucks Band.
Derek’s exceptional skills placed the Derek Trucks Band in the spotlight earning a cult following in the US. His virtuoso work on the slide guitar made him the band’s musicianship centerpiece. A remarkable catalog of original compositions is known to take any artist/band a long way. However, the Derek Trucks Band had a different approach—that’s serving their fans their original compositions while paying homage to covers of multiple artists.
Over the years, the Derek Trucks Band has issued a total of six studio albums. Notably, the band’s lineup has evolved over time with talented musicians contributing to the Derek Trucks Band’s creative expression and technical prowess. The Derek Trucks Band has since 2010 been on a hiatus following the formation of the Tedeschi Trucks Band, a Grammy Award-winning blues and blues rock band.
A Quick Review of Derek Trucks Band’s Albums
In 1997, the Derek Trucks Band issued their eponymous debut studio album. The album was issued through Landslide Records under the production of John Snyder. Notably, John Snyder is a prominent jazz record producer best known for his Jon Batiste, Etta James, Paul Desmond, Lucky Peterson, and Jim Hall. The Derek Trucks Band melds blues, jazz fusion, southern rock, and jam rock sound influences.
It’s worthwhile mentioning that Derek Trucks was still a teenager at the time of this album’s release. However, Derek had already built his own legacy as a slide guitar prodigy for some while. Derek’s skills are exposited by the monstrous guitar chops on some daring classics from John Coltrane, Miles Davis, and Wayne Shorter. The album also included some original tracks by the band including “555 Lake,” “D Minor Blues,” and “#6 Dance.”
The Derek Trucks Band returned in 1998 with their sophomore studio album Out of the Madness. Out of the Madness was issued through House of Blues under the production of John Snyder. Other artists who have issued records through House of Blues include The Five Blind Boys of Alabama, Otis Rush, Roger Daltrey, and Larry McCray.
Out of the Madness is deeply rooted in southern rock and blues rock, albeit with tinges of jazz fusion and jam rock sound influences. In this record, the band invites guest vocalists Warren Haynes, Matt Tutor, and Larry McCray. Adding to Derek Trucks’ guitar work is guest guitarist Jimmy Herring, the lead guitarist for the rock band Widespread Panic.
Jimmy Herring has also played with other artists including The Dead, The Allman Brothers Band, and Phil Lesh and Friends. Out of the Madness includes some cover songs from Bobbly Bland, The Meters, Son House, and Sonny Boy Williamson I. However, the album still features some original picks including “Deltaraga,” “Youth Funk,” “Pleasant Gardens,” and “Death Letter.”
Joyful Noise, issued in 2002, marked the band’s third studio album. The album was the band’s first record issued through Columbia Records. Working on Joyful Noise’s production were Russ Kunkel (also produced for Jimmy Buffett, Jane Wiedlin, and Carly Simon) and Craig Street (also produced for Norah Jones, John Legend, Madeleine Peyroux, and among others).
With Joyful Noise, the Derek Trucks Band takes a brave (yet successful) experimentation melding southern rock, blues rock, and jam rock with world music and jazz fusion. The album was quite a success thanks to the guest vocalists featured in it including Solomon Burke, Susan Tedeschi, Rubén Blades, and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan.
Joyful Noise climbed to the twentieth spot on the US Billboard Top Heatseekers Chart. The album featured cover songs from Solomon Burke, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, and James Brown and The Famous Flames. Some of the best Derek Trucks Band songs from the album include “So Close, So Far Away,” “Like Anyone Else,” and “Joyful Noise.”
In 2003, the Derek Trucks Band returned with their fourth studio album Soul Serenade. The album was issued through Columbia Records under the production of Derek Trucks and John Snyder. Like the previous album, Soul Serenade is quite a “mature” release with the band showcasing progressive dexterity. Notable guest artists in this album include Gregg Allman, who offers a vocal cameo on the Derek Trucks Band’s cover of the hit “Drown in My Own Tears” by Henry Glover.
Songlines, issued in 2006, marked the Derek Trucks Band’s fifth studio album. The album was issued through Columbia Records under the production of Jay Joyce. Jay Joyce has also worked with other reputable artists including Eric Church, Little Big Town, Emmylou Harris, Zac Brown Band, and Amos Lee among others.
Upon release, Songlines was regarded by critics as the brightest album by the Derek Trucks Band. This time, the Derek Trucks Band didn’t outsource any additional musicians to make this album a success showcasing the matured musicianship of its members. Taking the lead vocals in this record was Mike Mattison who would later feature on the Tedeschi Trucks Band lineup.
Some of the best Derek Trucks Band songs from the album include the covers “Crow Jane,” “I’d Rather Be Blind, Crippled and Crazy,” “Sailing On,” and “Chevrolet.” “This Sky,” “All I Do,” and “I’ll Find My Way” are some of the popular original tracks by Derek Trucks Band from the album. Songlines was followed up by the Derek Trucks Band’s live recording Songlines Live.
In 2009, the Derek Trucks Band returned with their sixth and most recent full-length studio album Already Free. The band proved to have aged like fine wine with the album Already Free proving to be its best release yet. Already Free was co-produced by Derek Trucks in conjunction with record producer Doyle Bramhall II, the song of American blues singer, drummer, and songwriter Doyle Bramhall.
Other artists who have worked with Doyle Bramhall II include Eric Clapton, Neil Finn, and Marc Breno among others. Already Free was a mainstream success having topped the Billboard Internet Chart and Billboard Blues Chart. The album also peaked at position nineteen on the Billboard 200 Chart. Already FreeI went ahead to scoop the Best Contemporary Blues Album in the 2010 Grammy Award ceremony.
This saw the Derek Trucks Band beat competition from The Robert Cray Band, Susan Tedeschi, Ruthie Foster, and Mavis Staples. Already Free featured a number of impressive cover tracks including “Down in the Flood” originally by Bob Dylan and “Sweet Inspiration” by The Sweet Inspirations. Some of the amazing original cuts from Already Free include “Down Don’t Bother Me” and “Back Where I Started.”
#10- Something to Make You Happy
We start our top 10 Derek Trucks Band songs list with the radiant musical gem “Something to Make You Happy.” The song is featured on the band’s Grammy Award-winning sixth studio album Already Free. Credit to the Derek Trucks Band for exposing to the world some of the hidden musical treasures with their cover song “Something to Make You Happy.”
The song was initially issued by the American singer/guitarist Paul Pena featured on his 1971 eponymous debut studio album. “Something to Make You Happy” is quite a funky pick with a touch of blues and rock influences. The song is proof of the Derek Trucks Band’s ability to create a rich sonic experience with its captivating blend of musical genres.
#9- Death Letter ft. Warren Haynes
Our ninth pick brings us to an impressive cover song by the Derek Trucks Band, “Death Letter.” The song is featured on the band’s sophomore studio album Out of the Madness. “Death Letter” finds the band paying homage to the American Delta blues artist Son House who was best known for his slide guitar playing and emotive singing style.
Like Son, Derek Trucks serves us with his impressive slide guitar chops with his own creative touch. It’s easy to hear how much Duane Allman inspired Derek Trucks. The band featured Derek Trucks Allman Brothers Band brother Warren Haynes on the vocals of this song. “Death Letter” has been covered by other artists including The White Stripes, Cassandra Wilson, The Blues Band, and John Mellencamp.
#8- Back Where I Started ft. Susan Tedeschi
The eighth pick on our top 10 Derek Trucks Band songs list “Back Where I Started,” is just stunning. The song is one of the most epic original tracks by the Derek Trucks Band. Derek Trucks teamed up with Warren Haynes (former member of The Allman Brothers Band) in penning the lyrics to this song.
“Back Where I Started” finds the band relying on the vocals of Susan Tedeschi of The Tedeschi Trucks Band. Her vocals on this track are quite tasteful thanks to the emotive and raw delivery. Derek Trucks delivers some impressive guitar work supported by a tight rhythm section. “Back Where I Started” is an emblem of the band’s ability to pen emotionally resonant songs.
#7- Like Anyone Else ft. Solomon Burke
“Like Anyone Else” brings us to one of the band’s original tracks. The song was penned solely by the band’s keyboardist Kofi Burbridge. “Like Anyone Else” went ahead to be featured on the band’s third studio album Joyful Noise. Joining the band in this song was soul artist Solomon Burke—Solomon made his mark in the song by delivering an alluring vocal performance. “Like Anyone Else” is among the songs that marked the stylistic growth of the Derek Trucks Band earning the band more critical acclaim and a cult following.
#6- I’d Rather Be Blind, Crippled and Crazy
Ranking sixth on our top 10 Derek Trucks Band songs list is the impressive cover track “I’d Rather Be Blind, Crippled and Crazy.” The song was originally released by the American blues/southern soul artist O.V. Wright. “I’d Rather Be Blind, Crippled and Crazy” is one of the Derek Trucks Band’s imposing concert staples.
The raw and emotionally charged vocal delivery by Mike Mattison gives this song some extra allure. Adding to the song’s alluring nature is Todd Smallie with his exquisite basslines. Todd links up with drummer Yonrico Scott to give this track an infectious groove and solid rhythm section. Other artists who delivered their rendition of the song “I’d Rather Be Blind, Crippled and Crazy” include Peter Wolf, Doyle Bramhall, Buddy Guy, and Ron Spencer Band.
#5- Joyful Noise
The fifth pick on our top 10 Derek Trucks Band songs list is the lively hit “Joyful Noise.” This song serves as the album-title track of the band’s third studio album. “Joyful Noise” opens with a catchy and infectious guitar riff that showcases the masterful skills of Derek Trucks. The song also features soulful solos that add to its appealing texture.
#4- Down Don’t Bother Me
We head back to the band’s Grammy Award-winning album Already Free where we find the song “Down Don’t Bother Me.” The song is an original release by the band composed by Derek Trucks in conjunction with lead vocalist Mike Mattison. “Down Don’t Bother Me” starts with a soulful guitar riff that suggests a sense of nostalgia in the song.
The song “Down Don’t Bother Me” pays homage to the traditional blues style while maintaining the contemporary edge. Innovative and masterful arrangements give this song a rich texture making it an instant fan favorite. “Down Don’t Bother Me” features the expressive vocals of Mike Mattison backed by Susan Tedeschi of the Tedeschi Trucks Band.
#3- Crow Jane
Ranking third on our top 10 Derek Trucks Band songs list is the ravishing hit “Crow Jane.” The song is featured on the band’s fifth studio album Songlines. “Crow Jane” is an impressive cover track by the band first released by Julius Daniels. The song has been covered and reworked by multiple artists including Skip James, Mary Flower, and Ernie Hawkins among others.
The Derek Trucks Band put their own spin on this blues song tinging it with some rock influences. Technical prowess can be felt in Derek Trucks’ masterful slide guitar work as his fingers navigate the fretboard. Mike Mattison’s vocal delivery proves to be yet another highlight of the song thanks to his impressive vocal range.
#2- This Sky
“This Sky” is yet another impressive original song by the Derek Trucks Band. The song is featured on the band’s fifth studio album Songlines—the song serves as the closing track to the album. “This Sky” was composed by Derek Trucks in conjunction with singer Mike Mattison, and producer Jay Joyce. The lyrics of this song tell a story of suffering lovers who ought to be taking a dance in the beauty of the sky. “This Sky” features the mellow and melodic guitar work by Derek Trucks.
#1- Down in the Flood
Placing the hauntingly beautiful track “Down in the Flood” at the peak of our top 10 Derek Trucks Band songs list wouldn’t be farfetched. Of course, our list is by all means subjective, especially having taken a cover song for the best song from a reputable band. However, “Down in the Flood” is not your average cover track and perfectly deserves its spot on the list.
The Derek Trucks Band made a bold move by going for the 1967 classic blues track “Down in the Flood” by the legendary Bob Dylan. Without a doubt, the band’s rendition offers a vibrant feel to this exceptional classic. At the core of this song’s greatness is Derek Trucks with his remarkable guitar work. Complementing his musicianship is the band’s lead vocalist Mike Mattison with his soulful, gritty, and expressive vocals.
A tight rhythm section adds to the song’s exquisite quality. All of the band members deliver a stellar performance that showcases their virtuosity adding to the reason why Already Free deserved a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Blues Album in 2010. Additional musicians in the song “Down in the Flood” include Mace Hibbard on the tenor sax, Kevin Hyde on the trombone, and Paul Garrett on the trumpet.
Top 10 Derek Trucks Band Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2023
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