Top 10 Mose Allison Songs

Mose Allison Songs

Photo: WETA TV / Public domain

Our Top 10 Mose Allison Songs list takes a look at a legendary singer-songwriter & pianist who left behind a legacy of great original songs with a unique voice and songwriting style. Mose Allison’s songs are difficult to describe using only single musical genre terms. His songs crossed the genres of jazz and blues from a musical standpoint, especially early on. His lyrics were filled with a bit of idiosyncratic humor, yet did it elegantly with a wink of an eye. Some got it, some did not. Most importantly, he was a songwriter and performer who had a tremendous impact on many of the legends of classic rock history, such as The Who, Tom Waits, Jimi Hendrix, Van Morrison, Bruce Springsteen, and so many others.

Starting with Mose Allison’s late 50s roots in jazz when he played with Stan Getz and other jazz stars, he also served as an inspiration to many current jazz artists such as Diana Krall and countless others.

Mose Allison recorded with his trio on the jazz label Prestige Records in his early years. His first album was released in 1957. The album entitled Back Country Suite featured the Mose Allison trio. In the band were Mose Allison on piano, Taylor LaFargue on bass, and Frank Isola on drums. Mose Allison would record six albums for Prestige from 1957 to 1958. Addison Farmer, Art Farmer’s twin brother, played bass on five of the six Prestige albums. Nick Stabulas and Ronnie Free played drums on separate albums.

In 1959, Mose Allison signed with Columbia Records. His debut album with Columbia was entitled Transfiguration of Hiram BrownMose released two Columbia albums and signed with Atlantic Records in 1962. Mose Allison would release ten albums on Atlantic Records from 1962 to 1976. Those Atlantic Record albums would feature some of the all-time jazz greats playing with Mose Allison, such as Joe Henderson, Pepper Adams, David Sanborn, Billy Cobham, Red Mitchell, and many others. After a few albums on various labels in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Mose Allison signed with Blue Note Records in 1987. Blue Note Records would release six Mose Allison albums from 1987 to 2000. Mose Allison’s final album was released in 2009 on ANTI- Records called The Way of the World. 

Over the years, various compilation albums have been released by Mose Allison’s multiple record companies. Of course, there are also hundreds of recordings released by musical artists covering Mose Allison’s songs. The Who’s cover of Mose Allison’s “Young Man Blues” on the Live at Leed’s album remains one of classic rock’s all-time greatest moments.

Our Top 10 Mose Allison songs list is the first article we are releasing under our new Jazz category. Our approach to classic rock history, which we wrote in depth about in our Story Of Classic Rock article, will always look at the movements that inspired and were inspired by rock and roll music. It’s all connected. It’s all part of the history. Mose Allison is a perfect example of a jazz artist who significantly impacted classic rock. He also stood as an artist who had many rock and roll fans buying his music on a consistent basis. We hope this top 10 Mose Allison songs list will turn on more rock fans to the brilliant music of Mose Allison.

This top 10 Moses Allison songs list presents Mose Allison’s songs in a loose chronological order. It attempts to choose highlights from his brilliant fifty year plus career starting in 1957 and ending with his final album in 2009.

# 10 – Back Country Suite: Blues [A.K.A. ‘Young Man’s Blues’]

What better way to open up our top 10 Mose Allison songs list than with the song that was heard around the rock and roll world in the 1960s when The Who released “Young Man Blues.” The “Black County Suite: Blues was a suite of short songs released on Mose Allison’s first album in 1957. The suite consisted of the following pieces. The fourth section which was just titled Blues, was actually the Young Man’s Blues part that The Who recorded. Nonetheless, this entire suite, as well as the album, is simply brilliant. Take a listen, it will blow your mind.

  1. “Back Country Suite: New Ground”
  2. “Back Country Suite: Train”
  3. “Back Country Suite: Warm Night”
  4. “Back Country Suite: Blues”
  5. “Back Country Suite: Saturday”
  6. “Back Country Suite: Scamper”
  7. “Back Country Suite: January”
  8. “Back Country Suite: Promised Land” – 2:03
  9. “Back Country Suite: Spring Song” – 1:23
  10. “Back Country Suite: Highway 49” – 1:39

We thought we would also include this great version of the song that Mose Allison recorded as “Old Man Blues,” on his 1997 album Gimcracks and Gewgaws. An excellent album that we highly recommend.

# 9 – Parchman Farm

Mose Allison’s cover of Bukka White’s “Parchman Farm,” was released on Allison’s second album entitled Local Color. The album was released in 1958.  The song’s origins began in 1937 when  Bukka White was sentenced to Parchman Farm’s prison in the State of Mississippi. When White was released from prison in 1940, he recorded his song “Parchman Farm.” Mose Allison’s original take on the song would lead to future recordings and variations on the song by Mose Allison and many others including a brilliant version released by John Mayall on the album Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton.

# 8 – Lost Mind

Mose Allison’s second album was almost entirely instrumental, with the exception of two songs. Both songs have been presented on this top 10 Mose Allison songs list. “Parchman Farm” and “Lost Mind” were brilliant covers that Mose Allison made his own. “Lost Mind” was written by Percy Mayfield, who wrote the massive standard “Hit the Road Jack.”

# 7 – Stop This World

This was one of the all-time classic Mose Allison songs. “Stop This World” was released in 1962. It was issued on the album Swingin’ Machine. Diana Krall released a stunning cover version of this song.

# 6 – Footkiller

If you are unaware of how great a piano player Mose Allison was, check out his excellent playing on the section of this little-known Mose Allison song entitled “Footkiller.” This great Mose Allison penned song was the opening track to his 1964 album The Word from Mose.  Listen to Mose mix rock, blues, and jazz in his piano solo. This is so great!

# 5 – Everybody Cryin’ Mercy

As we get to the halfway point on this top 10 Mose Allison songs list we turn to the great song “Everybody Cryin’ Mercy.” The song was released in 1968 on the fabulous album I’ve Been Doin’ Some Thinkin’. The song was written by Mose Allison. It would become one of his most covered songs. Bonnie Raitt did an incredible version of the song in the early 1970s that we have also included here.

# 4 –Your Mind Is on Vacation

Mose Allison’s brilliant album Your Mind Is on Vacation was released in 1976. We present the excellent title track from the album on our top 10 Mose Allison songs list. “Your Mind Is On Vacation and your mouth is working overtime.” How many times have you wanted to say that to someone?

# 3 -Top Forty

In 1987 Mose Allison released a spectacular album entitled Ever Since the World Ended that seems to have become one of the lost gems in Mose Allison’s catalog. Released during a time when hair bands like Poison and Cinderella were all the rages, Mose Allison countered with a sarcastic song that aimed at the music business and its focus on fluff hit singles and celebrating image instead of substance.

# 2 – Gimcracks and Gewgaws

The title track from his 1997 album Gimcracks and Gewgaws just smokes. Forty years after Mose Allison had released his first album in 1957, the man was still killing it in the studio in 1997. Don’t miss this one.

# 1 – The Way Of The World

We close out our Top 10 Mose Allison songs list with the title track from his final album The Way Of The World. Mose Allison and Joe Henry wrote the song. The song’s retrospective lyrics, the slow blues shuffle, and the sax jazz solo define the perfect song to end this list with. At one time, Mose Allison had cried out for the world to stop so he could get off. In the end, he put it in perspective as just the way of the world.

Top 10 Mose Allison Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2023

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Updated November 21, 2023

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