Top 10 Keb’ Mo’ Songs

Keb' Mo' Songs

Photo: Adam Ziaja / Shutterstock.com

Our top 10 Keb’ Mo’ songs list highlights the remarkable career of a musician who has reinvigorated the blues genre with a contemporary twist while honoring its traditional roots. Born in 1951, Keb’ Mo’ was introduced to gospel and blues music by his parents from an early age, which ignited his passion for music and led him to become a skilled guitarist during his teenage years. Keb’ Mo’ began his musical journey playing drums in a calypso band, showcasing his versatility. At twenty-one, he joined forces with violinist Papa John Creach of Jefferson Airplane, marking a pivotal moment in his career. This collaboration led to Keb’ Mo’ recording on four of Creach’s albums. His talent shone through on the song “Git Fiddler,” which he co-wrote with Creach. This track was featured on Jefferson Starship’s Red Octopus album, which soared to the top of the Billboard 200 Album chart in 1975, earning Keb’ Mo’ his first gold record.

Keb’ Mo’ later inked a deal with Chocolate City Records, debuting with the album Rainmaker in 1980. His passion for blues intensified during his tenure with Whodunit, under the guidance of producer Monk Higgins. Surrounded by legends like Big Joe Turner and Albert Collins, Keb’ Mo’ developed a deep connection to the traditional blues lineage. In 1994, he released his self-titled album, which included two Robert Johnson covers, paying homage to one of his key influences. The growing acclaim for his work led to the release of Just Like You in 1996. This album, featuring guest appearances by Bonnie Raitt and Jackson Browne, garnered Keb’ Mo’ his first Grammy Award, elevating his status in the blues community.

In 1998, German rock star Peter Maffay enlisted Keb’ Mo’ for a multi-artist project, during which they performed numerous tracks, including a rendition of his ballad “Am I Wrong.” That same year, Keb’ Mo’ achieved greater success with the release of Slow Down, which earned him his second Grammy Award. He then explored new territory with Big Wide Grin (2000), a children’s album inspired by his own childhood. In 2004, Keb’ Mo’ secured his third Grammy Award with Keep It Simple, solidifying his influence in contemporary blues.

Throughout his career, Keb’ Mo’ has accumulated numerous nominations and five Grammy Awards, reflecting his innovative blend of blues with jazz, country, folk, pop, and rock elements. While his contributions to music are vast, our top 10 Keb’ Mo’ songs provide a glimpse into the distinctive style and artistry of this blues icon.

# 10 – I See Love

Kicking off our top 10 Keb’ Mo’ songs is the inspiring ballad “I See Love.” Co-written by Keb’ Mo’ and singer-songwriter Josh Kelley, this track appears on the album Suitcase. The song gained additional fame as the opening theme for the American sitcom Mike & Molly. The collaboration began when Josh Kelley reached out to Keb’ Mo’ in 2004, expressing his desire to write a song together. Kelley then visited Keb’ Mo’s home, where the two crafted “I See Love.” Chuck Lorre, creator of Mike & Molly, was captivated by the song, selecting it as the show’s theme song.

# 9 – Soon As I Get Paid

“Soon As I Get Paid” is a witty and original track from Keb’ Mo’s Grammy Award-winning album Slow Down. This song showcases Keb’ Mo’s exceptional guitar skills and his knack for crafting memorable blues melodies. With its old-school blues vibe, “Soon As I Get Paid” has drawn comparisons to the legendary B.B. King. The track opens with uplifting riffs that immediately set the tone. Lyrically, the song humorously addresses financial struggles, referencing an overdue credit card, an inability to afford drinks, and devastating tax returns. This blend of humor and blues mastery highlights Keb’ Mo’s unique place in the genre.

# 8 – I Remember You

Bluesman Keb’ Mo’ continues to impress with his timeless artistry, even in his later years, as evidenced by his remarkable album Oklahoma (2019). This album features collaborations with notable artists like Robert Randolph and Rosanne Cash. Among the standout tracks is “I Remember You,” a captivating song that delves into the powerful grip of memory. The lyrics narrate the tale of a man entranced by a captivating woman he sees at a bar, sipping a margarita. Despite his interest, he finds himself outclassed by her elegance. After she leaves, he is left with nothing but a lingering, haunting memory. It’s worth noting that while other artists like Skid Row and Frank Ifield have songs with the same title, Keb’ Mo’s “I Remember You” stands out with its unique narrative and soulful delivery.

Read More: Top 10 Robert Randolph Songs

# 7 – Everything I Need

Slow Down (1998) is the Grammy Award-winning album that cemented Keb’ Mo’s reputation as a distinguished contemporary blues artist. On this album, Keb’ Mo’ collaborated with Charles Edward Streetman to create the song “Everything I Need.” This track delves into the essence of what truly sustains us, highlighting the importance of having basic needs met but also emphasizing the power of inner strength and resilience.

In “Everything I Need,” Keb’ Mo’ explores the idea of pushing forward despite not having all the material comforts. He sings about possessing the most crucial elements for success—his heart and soul—asserting that these are enough to drive him towards his dreams. The song reflects his determination and the urgency he feels as time passes, reinforcing the message that perseverance and inner resolve are key.

Keb’ Mo’ poignantly asks to be heard as he continues his journey, a sentiment that resonates with listeners and underscores the introspective nature of the album. While other artists like Kutless, Quinn XCII, The Wallflowers, The Wilsons, Trevor Hall, Marizu, Skylar Grey, Daniel Merriweather, and Pressure have also released songs titled “Everything I Need,” Keb’ Mo’s version stands out for its soulful exploration of ambition and self-sufficiency.

# 6 – More Than One Way Home

Listening to “More Than One Way Home,” it’s clear why Keb’ Mo’ secured the Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Blues Album in 1997. His 1996 album, Just Like You, diverged from his previous work by infusing deep blues-pop and blues-rock elements, marking a distinct evolution in his sound. Collaborating with John Lewis Parker, Keb’ Mo’ crafted a song that conveys a profound message: no matter which path we choose in life, there are always multiple routes to reach happiness and contentment.

The lyrics of “More Than One Way Home” metaphorically suggest that life’s journey offers various ways to achieve fulfillment and peace. This theme resonates through Keb’ Mo’s soulful delivery and the song’s rich, layered instrumentation. By blending traditional blues with contemporary influences, Keb’ Mo’ created a track that not only showcases his musical versatility but also his ability to connect with listeners on a deep, emotional level. This song stands as a testament to his artistry and the innovative spirit that earned him critical acclaim and a Grammy win.

# 5 – Just Like You

Ranking fifth on our top 10 Keb’ Mo’ songs list is “Just Like You,” the titular track from his third studio album. This song sees Keb’ Mo’ teaming up again with John Lewis Parker to write its thought-provoking lyrics. Unlike his earlier works rooted in Delta blues, “Just Like You” exemplifies a shift towards modern blues, seamlessly integrating pop and rock elements. The song’s somber acoustic blues tones underscore a poignant message about our shared humanity, emphasizing that beneath our exterior differences, we are all fundamentally the same.

Keb’ Mo’s evocative performance on “Just Like You” highlights his versatility and ability to evolve as an artist while maintaining the emotional depth that characterizes his music. This track, with its blend of contemporary and traditional blues influences, stands out for its introspective lyrics and heartfelt delivery. Interestingly, R&B artist Keyshia Cole also titled her sophomore album Just Like You, though it presents a very different musical style and theme.

#4- Put a Woman in Charge ft. Rosanne Cash

In 2018, Keb’ Mo’ teamed up with country singer Rosanne Cash to release the powerful single “Put a Woman in Charge,” the leading track from his album Oklahoma. This anthemic blues song addresses political and gender imbalances with both its poignant lyrics and lively, upbeat tune. Collaborating with Beth Nielsen Chapman and John Lewis Parker on the songwriting, Keb’ Mo’ crafted a track that resonates as one of his finest.

“Put a Woman in Charge” stands out for its compelling message advocating for female leadership, a tribute that extends into the song’s video, dedicated to Keb’ Mo’s mother, who was a formidable and influential figure until her passing at ninety-one. The song’s impact was further recognized when it peaked at number ten on the Billboard Blues Songs Chart, cementing its place as a standout piece in Keb’ Mo’s discography.

# 3 – The Whole Enchilada

Though The Reflection may not have snagged a Grammy, it boasts some of Keb’ Mo’s most memorable tracks, including “The Whole Enchilada.” This album marked Keb’ Mo’s return to the blues scene after a hiatus since his 2006 release, and it was his debut on his own Yolabelle International Record label. “The Whole Enchilada” underscores Keb’ Mo’s immense talent, delivering poignant vocals and bluesy guitar licks that captivate listeners.

Penned by John Lewis Parker, the song’s lyrics explore the theme of a man finally winning the woman of his dreams, questioning his preparedness to cherish and handle this newfound blessing. The track’s slow tempo enhances its bluesy vibe, leaving fans craving more of Keb’ Mo’s soulful melodies. This song is a testament to his enduring artistry and his ability to evoke deep emotions through his music.

#2- Am I Wrong

“Am I Wrong,” from Keb’ Mo’s self-titled album, delves into the singer’s introspection about loving a woman entangled in a toxic relationship. The track showcases Keb’ Mo’s ability to express deep emotions and navigate the complexities of love with a raw, heartfelt performance. His nuanced delivery captures the pain and confusion of being in love with someone in a difficult situation, making it a standout piece in his discography.

The song’s influence extends beyond Keb’ Mo’s original version. It was notably sampled by the global sensation BTS, who used it to comment on serious political issues in South Korea. Their rendition served as a critique of the corrupt administration of President Park Geun-Hye, highlighting the song’s versatility and powerful message. Additionally, the song inspired Nico & Vinz’s pop version, which appeared on their album Absolute Music 73. This wide-ranging impact underscores the enduring relevance and emotional depth of “Am I Wrong.”

#1- Life Is Beautiful

In challenging times, it’s uncommon to hear an ode to life’s beauty, but Keb’ Mo’ does just that with his top hit, “Life is Beautiful.” This track, which claims the number one spot on our top 10 Keb’ Mo’ songs list, is a poignant reminder to cherish life and spend it with those we love. Keb’ Mo’ delivers this message through heartfelt lyrics and captivating melodies, making it one of his standout performances. Featured as the closing track on his ninth studio album, Suitcase, “Life is Beautiful” encapsulates Keb’ Mo’s ability to find and celebrate the profound beauty in everyday moments.

Top 10 Keb’ Mo’ Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2024

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