Our Top 10 John Sebastian songs list looks at the solo career of John Sebastian after he left the band the Lovin’ Spoonful to embark on a solo career. This John Sebastian songs list will only take into account the songs he released as a solo artist and not include any of the huge hit songs he wrote as a founding member of the Lovin’ Spoonful. For those songs, please check out our top 10 Lovin’ Spoonful songs list. John Sebastian did not have the success on the charts as a solo artist that he had with the Lovin Spoonful with the exception of one song. With The Lovin’ Spoonful, John Sebastian had eight top ten its and two number ones on the Billboard Hot 100. As a solo artist he only had one top 10 hit. However, the song “Welcome Back,” would become a song that would completely ingrain itself in pop culture history for many reasons.
Once again this John Sebastian songs list only incudes songs he released on his solo albums and does not take into account the music he wrote while he was with his band the Lovin’ Spoonful.
# 10 – I Had A Dream
We open up our top 10 songs list fittingly with a song that was used to open up the soundtrack to the motion picture Woodstock. This is such a beautiful song of hope, it was just so perfectly placed on the soundtrack album to an event that symbolized the desire for peace in a time of war in 1969.The song “I Had A Dream,” was also released on John Sebastian’s first solo album entitled John B. Sebastian. The song also featured Stephen Stills and David Crosby on guitar and vocals. The album was released in 1970. This one we could have placed anywhere on this list, even at number one. However, it just felt right placing it as the opener.
# 9 – Stories We Could Tell
Continuing with our top 10 John Sebastian songs list, we turn to the artist’s great song, “Stories We Could Tell.” The song remains one of John Sebastian’s most popular solo songs. It is also his most covered solo song. “Stories We Could Tell” has been covered by the late Tom Petty and his band the Heartbreakers, the legendary duo of The Everly Brothers, and the iconic Jimmy Buffett.
# 8 – Didn’t Wanna Have to Do It
The great John Sebastian song “Didn’t Wanna Have to Do It,” was released on the singer-songwriter’s very successful 1976 album Welcome Back. The song was never released as a single but remained our favorite song on the album after the title track. The song featured musicians David Hungate on bass, Richard Bell on pianos and keys, and the late Jeff Porcaro on drums.
# 7 – Rainbow All Over Your Blues
In the number seven position on our top 10 John Sebastian songs list we turn to his great Hot Tuna style blues song called “Rainbow All Over You Blues.” This is another one of John Sebastian’s popular solo songs. The song “Rainbow All Over You Blues.” was released in 1970 on his debut solo album entitled John B. Sebastian.
# 6 – Hideaway
John Sebastian’s single “Hideaway,” served as the follow up single to the biggest hit of his career in the number one song “Welcome Back.” Unfortunately, it had nowhere near the success of the song “Welcome Back.” Yet, the single “Hideaway,” did break the Billboard Hot 100 in 1976, peaking at number ninety five.
# 5 – She’s A Lady
The second half of our Top 10 John Sebastian songs list opens up in the same manner as our first half did with a song from John Sebastian’s great debut album entitled John B. Sebastian. The song “She’s A Lady,” is a great one. The song served as the lead single from the album. It would also become his first solo song to break the Billboard Hot 100 as it peaked at number 85 on the Billboard charts.
# 4 – Give Us A Break
The John Sebastian song “Give Us A Break,” reminds us of the classic song “People Get Ready,” that Jeff Beck and Rod Stewart had a hit with. At least from the song’s introduction. Nonetheless, once it gets rolling it’s all original John Sebastian and it’s a great one.
# 3 – The Room Nobody Lives In
One more time in this list we go back to John Sebastian’s debut album entitled John B. Sebastian. The song “The Room Nobody Lives In,” is one of those songs that just sounded ahead of its time. It sounds as if Elvis Costello wrote it which explains why Elvis Costello did a great cover version of the song. This one is an outlier that is a magnificent song in the John Sebastian solo catalog.
# 2 – I Don’t Want Nobody Else
As we begin to wind down this top 10 John Sebastian solo songs list we turn to the album The Four Of Us. The album was released in 1971. It served as John Sebastian’s second solo album. The song “I Don’t Want Nobody Else,” was released as a single from the album. The song failed to break any of the U.S. Music Charts. However, it remains one of our favorite John Sebastian songs.
# 1 – Welcome Back
We close out our top 10 John Sebastian songs list with the songwriter’s most famous song of his career. Some would argue that many of his Lovin’ Spoonful hits were more popular, but as far as mass cultural success and pop culture status, it’s hard to surpass the popularly of the song “Welcome Back.” This was a perfect moment in pop culture history. A television show that would become a massive hit while launching the career of one of the biggest movie stars of all time in John Travolta. Additionally it would turn the spotlight on a longtime comic named Gabe Kaplan giving him the big show business break he so deserved. And of course there was the theme song written by John Sebastian.
The television show had originally been set to be called Kotter. However, when those involved in producing the show were presented with John Sebastian’s theme song, the tune so blew them away, they changed the name of the show to Welcome Back Kotter. Everyone knew they had a hit on their hands. John Sebastian’s theme song was released as a single once the television show became an instant success. The single “Welcome Back Kotter,” would hit number one on both the Billboard Hot 100 and Cashbox music charts in 1976. Ten years earlier John Sebastian had also hit number one in 1966 with his Lovin’ Spoonful hit “Summer in the City.”
The song “Welcome Back,” would become the only number one hit of John Sebastian’s solo career. It was also his only top 40 hit as the songwriter only had three songs from his solo album chart on the Billboard Hot 100. Nonetheless, it was a big one. A song that has resonated over the years into a cultural saying as a song to welcome anyone back from from wherever, if you know what I mean. To have a song become so popular that it becomes a musical saying or reaction in society is the dream of any songwriter. A dream come true for the brilliant John Sebastian.
Top 10 John Sebastian Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2021
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