Top 10 Hot Tuna Songs

Hot Tuna Songs

Photo: Grunt Records [Public domain]

As a teenager growing up in the 1970s, some of the coolest concerts I ever attended were Hot Tuna shows on Long Island. If one wanted to define 1970s culture or at least get a sense of what it was like growing up as a teenager into rock music, all they would have to do is go back in time to attend a Hot Tuna concert. Sure, The Grateful Dead concerts were an experience themselves, but a Hot Tuna concert was a little more unique in a much more intimate way.

Some of the longest-running concerts I have ever attended were Hot Tuna performances at the Commack Arena in the heart of Long Island, New York. Hot Tuna had a large audience on Long Island in the 1970s. Southern rock and music like The Grateful Dead were huge on Long Island. The Marshall Tucker Band, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Charlie Daniels, and Neil Young were played on car radios and turntables consistently in the suburbs of Long Island in the 1970s. Of course, those bands were popular nationwide, but many people do not realize they were also very popular in the suburbs of the North Eastern Cities of the United States.

Our top 10 Hot Tuna songs list looks at a band that was too often regarded just as an offshoot of the Jefferson Airplane. Yes, they were initially formed as a side band by Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady, who were members of The Jefferson Airplane in the 1960s. They formed into something more potent than just a side band and have been together for 50 years. Hot Tuna was a legend in their own making. Hot Tuna delivered some of the most organic rock music of all time. Listen to these great Hot Tuna songs, and you will understand what we are talking about.

# 10 – Highway Song

We open our list of top 10 Hot Tuna songs with a classic Hot Tuna track entitled “Highway Song.” This legendary song was released on the band’s third album entitled Burgers. Jorma Kaukonen wrote the song. The album featured Jorma Kaukonen on guitars and lead vocals, Jack Casady on bass and vocals, Papa John Creach on violin and vocals, and Sammy Piazza on drums. The track “Highway Song” also featured a guest appearance by David Crosby on vocals.

# 9 – I See The Light

Continuing with our list of top 10 Hot Tuna songs, we turn to the album The Phosphorescent Rat and the excellent track “I See The Light.” The album was released IN 1974. It was the band’s fourth album. The band’s sound also marked a turning point as the group began heading towards a more electric rock sound than their acoustic-infused first three records.

# 8 – Angel Of Darkness

“Angel of Darkness” is the most recent Hot Tuna song to make this top 10 Hot Tuna song list. The song was released on the band’s 2011 album Steady As She Goes. It was only the second studio album the band had released since 1976. It also had been 11 years since they released their last album in 1990, entitled Pair A Dice Found. “Angel of Darkness” was the album’s opening track. Larry Campbell and Jorma Kaukonen wrote the song.

Larry Campbell also served as the album’s producer. Larry Campbell is a well-respected musician in the business, having toured with Bob Dylan for seven years. His experience working with artists such as Carly Simon, Paul Simon, and Sheryl Crow, among many others, brought a history of experience and electricity to the Steady As She Goes album.

# 7 – Keep Your Lamps Trimmed and Burning

Continuing with our Top 10 Hot Tuna Songs list, we present the legendary Hot Tuna song “Keep Your Lamps Trimmed and Burning.” The song was released on First Pull Up, Then Pull Down. It was the band’s second album. The record was released in 1971.

# 6 – Sunrise Dance with the Devil

One of our favorite Hot Tuna records was the great Hot Tuna album entitled Yellow Fever. The Yellow Fever album was released in 1975. The song “Sunrise Dance With The Devil” was the closing track on the album’s A-side. Jorma Kaukonen wrote the song.

# 5 – Know Your Rider

As we pass the halfway mark on this top 10 Hot Tuna songs list we turn once again to the band’s debut album entitled Hot Tuna. The song “Know Your Rider” was the opening track on side two of the record. An old blues standard, Hot Tuna made this one their own.

# 4 – Hit Single #1

There is no better title for a song that will attract attention than labeling it a Hit Single. This great track, officially entitled “Hit Single # 1,” was released on the Hot Tuna album America’s Choice. The album was released in 1975.

# 3 – True Religion

The great Hot Tuna song “True Religion” was the opening track to the band’s album entitled  Burgers. This fantastic album was the band’s third release. The album was released in 1972. The song “True Religion” was composed by Jorma Kaukonen. It was the album’s opening track. The album and song were both recorded in San Francisco.

# 2 – Hesitation Blues

“Hesitation Blues,” is one of Hot Tuna’s most popular songs. The song was released on their debut album in 1970. The beauty of how these two brilliant musicians combined blues, country, and bluegrass into a sound of their own is on full display in this great track. This one gets you right away from the opening guitar picking and strumming.

# 1 -TIE – Death Don’t Have No Mercy / Keep On Truckin

This haunting song defines the blues aspect of Hot Tuna in its most compelling form. It’s hard to listen to and soothing at the same time. The song was released on the band’s debut album entitled Hot Tuna. The album was released in 1970. The Hot Tuna song “Death Don’t Have No Mercy,” was not an original composition by the band. The song was written by The Reverend Gary Davis, a blind blues singer born in the South in 1896. “Keep On Truckin” was released on the Burgers album. Bob Carleton wrote the song. It’s about as classic Hot Tuna as one can get.

Updated January 19 2024

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