Our Top 10 Elmore James Songs list looks at a blues singer and musician. He was a singer, songwriter, musician and bandleader during his career. He was known for his vocals and his ability to play the slide guitar. He was known as the king of the slide guitar. He influenced other guitarists such as B.B. King, Chuck Berry, Jimi Hendrix, Frank Zappa and John Lennon. Some of his hits include “Dust My Broom,” “I Can’t Hold Out,” “Shake Your Moneymaker,” “Bleeding Heart,” “Rollin’ and Tumblin’,” “It Hurts Me Too,” “Standing at the Crossroads” as well as others. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992.
Elmore James was born on January 27, 1918 – May 24, 1963. He started playing music when he was about 12. He was influenced by musicians Robert Johnson and Tampa Red. He used to perform Tampa Red’s songs. He worked with Tampa Red’s musicians for his backing band The Broomdusters. He worked with blues singer and songwriter Sonny Boy Williamson II. He recorded one of his biggest hits “Dust My Broom” in 1952. He recorded several singles and albums throughout his career. His songs were popular and he influenced several artists throughout the years. He had songs released during his lifetime as well as posthumously.
Elmore James was a very talented singer and songwriter. He was also an excellent musician. He was an underrated artist who deserved his flowers while he was still here. He was taken away too soon when he died at the age of 45. He may be gone, but his legacy lives on through his catalog. Our Top 10 Elmore James Songs list will give us a chance to give this talented artist the recognition he deserves.
#10 – Rollin’ and Tumblin’
The first song on our Top 10 Elmore James Songs list is “Rollin’ and Tumblin’.” The song is from the album Elmore James & His Broom Dusters. The song has a blues sound. The curious song is about a man who is in love with someone, but he wants to know how she feels about him. He wants her to want him, but he wants her to walk away if she doesn’t want to be with him.
Many of us have been in a situation where we have dealt with one-sided love. You want them to make a decision about their feelings or walk away. If you know what we’re talking about, this song will hit close to home for you. The lyrics will hit close to home if you are in love with someone who can’t express how they feel about you.
Elmore James puts this song down like no one else. He is in a class by himself. He isn’t the first artist you would think of today, but his music is worth checking out. He sang this song with so much feeling and emotion. You can feel the pain in his voice as he describes his love for a woman who doesn’t love him back. He feels the hurt that we would all feel if we couldn’t get a straight answer from someone.
Elmore James was a talented guitarist as well as singer. There’s no way to mention one without the other. His voice was one with the guitar. They were magically linked together. His guitar playing was just as gritty and expressive as his voice. His talents shine brightly on this track. There is a guitar solo that will allow you to enjoy his playing.
# 9 – Shake Your Moneymaker
The next song on our Top 10 Elmore James Songs list is “Shake Your Moneymaker” from the albums I Need You and The Best of the Fire Sessions. The song has a blues beat. The exuberant song is about a man who wants to see a woman dancing and showing off her assets. He also wanted to be with two women.
This song was risqué for the time it was recorded. There probably weren’t too many artists singing this type of song during that time. He managed not to make the song sound too dirty. He managed to metaphorically talk about something risqué without being banned for it. The lyrics are subtle because he doesn’t come out and say what he means even though it’s not hard to figure out what he’s talking about.
The track sounds like something Little Richard would have recorded. It sounds like a track that was recorded back in the day. It has a 50s vibe to it. You can move around on the dance floor with this song. It’s a song that you can have fun listening to and not a track to take seriously.
The track sounds like a novelty song so it was his chance to have a good time on a track. It was a break from the ballads he recorded. He sounds like he’s having fun on this track so it might make you have fun too. You can’t help smiling while listening to him sing the song. Let’s talk about Elmore James’ voice. He sounds fantastic. His baritone vocals were perfect for this song. If you weren’t a fan of his music, you may become one listening to his voice.
# 8 – Madison Blues
The energetic song is from the albums Tough and The Sky Is Crying. The track has a blues sound. The title gets an A+ for originality. We can’t really interpret what the mysterious song is about, but that won’t stop us from enjoying it. He makes reference to shoes and about a woman saying that she loved him. He knew she didn’t really love him so he got the blues. It’s up to you how you want to interpret the song. We all have the blues at one point about one thing or another. This song is what blues music is all about. He will make you understand what it’s like to sing about the blues.
The music is uplifting. It will have you out of your seat. It’s strange that the song is about the blues, but the music is bouncy. Elmore James did a fantastic job playing the slide guitar. He is a musical genius when it concerns playing the slide guitar. He had to be one of the best guitar players in music during his time. He is the king of the slide guitar. There is a tenor saxophone solo that will blow your mind. The music is incredible. The song doesn’t have too many lyrics, but you will hear a lot of music. Elmore James is at the top of his game on this song. He will make you feel his vocals. His voice commanded attention and he would have it.
# 7 – Standing At The Crossroads
The angry song is from the album The Sky Is Crying. The banger has a blues beat to it. The bitter song is about a woman who cheated on him. He had his heart broken when he found out that the love of his life cheated on him. He focuses on the pain he felt when she cheated on him. He was hurt when he lost the woman he loved. This is a subject that never gets old. People always sing about a man or woman cheating. Infidelity is a popular subject to cover in songs. A lot of people have gone through it so they can understand what he means.
If you pay attention to the lyrics, Elmore James talks about killing the woman who cheated on him. He contemplates whether he should kill her for what she did to him. It has a creepy vibe to it since he thought about hurting her. We’re not surprised he was torn because people probably think about doing bodily harm to someone who cheats on them. The music is solid and danceable. It has a killer saxophone back up.
The horn section in the background is incredible. The song features one of the greatest guitar riffs in blues history. He proved why he’s the slide guitar king on this song. If you had doubts about that, you can listen to this track and you will believe he deserved the title. His vocals are fierce. He stays in character while he sings the song. His phrasing is on point. You can understand what he’s saying.
# 6 – One Way Out
The sultry song is from one of his compilation albums. The song has a blues sound. The controversial song is about a man who has an affair with a married woman. His problems get worse when her husband shows up. The song is perfect for a soap opera or a movie. Elmore James doesn’t paint himself in a good light in this song. He is a villain because he’s having an affair with a married woman.
People don’t usually paint themselves up as villains in their songs. It happens sometimes, but they are usually the ones who are being betrayed. Have you been involved with a married man or woman? Did the spouse show up while you were in the middle of the affair? This song stands out because he was with his lover when her husband arrived.
“One Way Out” was recorded decades ago, but the theme still works today. The song has an old-school sound. It sounds like a combination of rock and blues. The slide guitar and saxophone drive the beat. It has a 50s rhythm to it.
Elmore James’ playing was impressive. He was made to play the slide guitar. He will captivate you with his skills on the guitar. You won’t be able to sit still listening to this track. His vocals are great. He belts while he sings about being with a married woman. He sings it with a lot of soul. There are other versions of the song available, but we enjoy Elmore James’ version of the track.
# 5 – Bleeding Heart
The next song on our Top 10 Elmore Songs list is “Bleeding Heart” from the album Elmore James Memorial. The jam has a blues sound. The emotional song is about a man dealing with heartbreak. He is upset because the woman he loves left him without a word. She didn’t write him or tell him anything about leaving.
He is angry that she took off and didn’t reach out to him. It’s understandable why he would be upset because she left him without a trace. You can’t help feeling sorry for him because she walked away without reaching out to him. He describes heartbreak perfectly. If you have had your heart broken because of love, you will know what he means.
Elmore James sings the song from a man’s point of view, but women can also relate to it. Women have also had their hearts broken by men. The music is melancholy to match the theme of the song. This bop has a big band sound. The track features the sax, trumpet, trombone, piano, the slide and bass guitars. The musicians are on point with this beat. They knew what they were doing when they played the song. The producer made the right decision to give the song a big band sound. Elmore James sang the song with a lot of passion. His phrasing is impressive. He will have you singing the blues along with him.
# 4 – I Can’t Hold Out
The passionate song is from the album The Ultimate Blues Anthology: Elmore James Vol. 4. The track has a blues sound. The yearning song is about a woman who wants her man to come home. They have a conversation on the phone and she wants him to come home to her. She tells him that he’s the one she desires. She lets him know that she “can’t hold out” any longer and wants to be with him. This is a positive song about love.
The writer of the song was inspired to write it based on a conversation he had with his wife. It’s hard to believe Elmore James didn’t write the song himself. He sings the song as if he wrote it. This is the type of song you can play with the person you love. You can play this track in the bedroom and have some special time with each other.
The song has the classic blues sound. It has a combination of blues and rock music. The song sounds like something that would be in a blues club. The track features the saxophone, piano and guitar. Elmore James doesn’t disappoint again on the slide guitar. The arrangement is fantastic. The musicians deserve credit for coming up with a fantastic sound. Elmore James’ baritone vocals are excellent for the song. He could have been drowned out by the music, but he can be heard. He sings loud enough to keep up with the music. He belts at points in the song. He sings in time with the beat changes. This is the type of song you will want to put on repeat so you can continue to hear it.
# 3 – The Sky Is Crying
The popular song is from the album of the same name. The song has a blues sound. The enduring song is about a man who lost his baby. He has a feeling she doesn’t love him anymore. He is in tears looking for his baby. He compares his tears to the sky crying. He is lost because she left him. This is the type of track that will have you in your feelings. It’s a unique way to compare your tears to the sky crying. Elmore James had a creative way of expressing his feelings for the woman he loves. He crafted a beautiful and sentimental song about missing his baby. He makes you believe that he loves her.
The music will touch your heart. The music is tender and emotional. The ballad will bring a tear to your eyes. He knew what it was like to have a broken heart. He wrote the lyrics as if he was in everyone’s head and knew what they were going through when it came to heartbreak. If your heart has been broken, you should listen to this track. It will let you know that you’re not alone. Elmore James sings in time with the beat. You can get lost listening to his voice. He sings the song with grit in his voice. He will make you think while you listen to him pour his heart out in the song. He sings the song in a higher key than the other songs on our list.
# 2 – It Hurts Me Too
The empathetic song is from the albums All Them Blues and The Legendary Elmore James. The song has a blues beat. The sympathetic song is about a man who is in love with a woman who loves someone else. He lets her know that her man doesn’t love her. He loves another woman. Elmore James wants to be the man in her life. He sees that her boyfriend is hurting her, but she won’t leave him. He pleads with her to let him go because he hurts when she hurts. Any woman would love to have a man feel that way for her. It’s a good feeling to know that someone feels the hurt you feel when you are in pain. He will have you cheering him on throughout the song.
“It Hurts Me Too” is the type of track men could play for the women they secretly love. The women may find themselves crumbling and giving in. If you are trying to convince a woman to be with you, it might be a good idea to play this jam. This hit might do something to her soul and have her come to you. The lyrics are simple and meaningful. The arrangement is majestic. It’s the right musical arrangement for the subject of the song.
The music will show you how the blues should really be done. This is true with all of his songs, but this song takes the cake. This has a classic blues sound. If you are moved by the lyrics, the music will get you too. You might get lost listening to the musical pauses in the song. His vocals are on point. He has a strong voice that doesn’t get drowned out by the music. His vocals are outstanding. He pours his heart and soul into the lyrics. His voice demands your attention from beginning to end.
#1 – Dust My Broom
The number one song on our Top 10 Elmore James Songs list is “Dust My Broom.” This song appears on several of his compilation albums. The song has a blues sound. The descriptive song is about a man who is with a woman who is cheating on him. He wants to get her out of his life. He’s using “dust my broom” as a metaphor for getting her out of his life.
He doesn’t want to deal with her anymore. He wants to leave her in the past. We can’t blame him because she’s not being faithful to him. This track is different from the song “One Way Out.” He isn’t the bad guy on this track. He is the one getting hurt. This is the type of song we’re used to hearing from artists.
“Dust My Broom” was one of the songs that helped put Elmore James on the map. It’s easy to see why this track was popular. It’s a song that showcases his singing and musical talents. He is having a ball playing his slide guitar. He has a solo that will blow your mind. The tone of the guitar is amazing and hypnotic. The rest of the music is flawless.
We challenge you to listen to this track and not be moved by the music. It will have you tapping your foot. This is the type of music that will never get old. Elmore James’ vocals are amazing. He sings the song with a lot of grit and passion. He makes you believe that he’s hurting because his woman was unfaithful.
Top 10 Elmore James Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2022
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