Richie Havens would release four more albums up until 1969 when he opened the Woodstock Festival. As most classic rock fans know, the opening artists could not get to the concert grounds because of horrible traffic. (imagine being those artists stuck in traffic realizing your blowing your chance to open Woodstock) Since Havens was already there, he was asked to play. His performance turned him into a household name.
Richie Havens capitalized on his new found fame and worked hard at releasing new material and touring on a consistent basis throughout the 1970s. From 1970 to 1980 Richie Havens released eight albums. He slowed his pace throughout the 80s and 90s releasing only five albums over the next twenty years. Richie Havens continued to release a few new studio albums through the 2000’s up until his passing in 2013.
Our Top 10 Richie Havens songs list will attempt to showcase some of the most enjoyable Richie Havens songs the icon released during his recording career.
# 10 – Freedom
We open our top 10 Richie Havens songs list with perhaps Richie Havens’ most famous song. Anyone who’s ever watched the Woodstock documentaries with Richie Havens will have learned that Havens had run out of material while he was performing the opening set at Woodstock. The promoters at Woodstock wanted him to keep playing because no one yet was ready to go on. Richie Havens did what all great musicians can do on stage, improvise! However, Richie Havens did not just improvise a solo, he improvised an entirely new song that he would go on to call “Freedom.” It would become his signature song.
# 9 – Lady Madonna
The Beatles are one of the most covered bands in history. Everybody covers Beatles songs. Why not? It’s a catalog full of some of the most well-written songs in rock and roll history. Some stay true to the original versions while others take them pretty far out there. Richie Havens made them his own. Just take a listen to Richie Havens cover of “Lady Madonna,” and you will understand what we were talking about.
# 8 – It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue
While the Beatles were definitely one of the most covered bands of all time in classic rock history, we can’t ignore the amount of artists who covered Bob Dylan songs also. Bob Dylan was easily one of the most covered solo songwriters in rock and roll. Once again, Richie Havens takes Bob Dylan’s song “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue,” and makes it its own. This great version of Bob Dylan’s song was released on Richie Havens Stonehenge album.
# 7 – No Opportunity Necessary, No Experience Needed
The classic Richie Havens’ song “No Opportunity Necessary, No Experience Needed,” was released on Richie Havens’ second album entitled Something Else Again. The album was released in 1968. “No Opportunity Necessary, No Experience Needed,” was the album’s opening track. The song was written by Richie Havens.
# 6 – What About Me
As we continue our top 10 Richie Havens songs list we once again turn to a song that opens with that classic Richie Havens acoustic guitar strumming. The opening groove of this one is undeniably Richie Havens at his best. The song “What About Me,” was released on the multi artist album in 1970 entitled Bread & Roses Festival Of Acoustic Music, Vol. 1.
# 5 -Rocky Racoon
The Beatles original version of their song “Rocky Raccoon,” always sounded just too happy to be a song that was all about revenge. Richie Havens version of this great classic song defined the darkness and pain of a man scorned so much clearer. Richie Havens performance is brilliant on this great, version of “Rocky Raccoon.” Richie Havens version was released in 1969.
# 4 – High Flying Bird
Richie Havens recording of the song “High Flying Bird,” was released on his debut album entitled Mixed Bag in 1966. The song “High Flying Bird,” was the opening track on the record. “High Flying Bird,” was written by Billy Edd Wheeler. “High Flying Bird,” presented fans immediately with Richie Havens trademark soulful guitar strumming and heartwarming vocals. It was a sound that rock fans fell instantly in love with.
# 3 – Going Back To My Roots
Richie Havens’ “Going Back To My Roots,” was a song written by Lamont Herbert Dozier. The legendary songwriter and producer had been one of the most influential producers of the Motown era having produced many songs for groups such as the Isley Brothers, The Supremes and so on. Dozier also composed many songs for artists in the 1970s and 80s. Richie Havens’ version of “Going Back To My Roots,” blew us all away. A killer soulful recording that stands as one of his best. The song was released by Haven’s in 1980 on the album Connections.
# 2 – I Can’t Make It Anymore
Richie Havens beautiful recording of the song “I Can’t Make It Anymore,” was released on his debut album entitled Mixed Bag. The album was released in 1966. The song “I Can’t Make It Anymore,” was written by Gordon Lightfoot. Richie Havens beautiful cover of the Gordon Lightfoot song blended a wonderful combination of jazz, folk and soul all together to create this incredible sound captivating those who were lucky enough to hear it when it first came out.
# 1 – Here Comes The Sun
We close out our Top 10 Richie Havens songs list with his Richie Havens beautiful cover of the George Harrison penned Beatle’s song “Here Comes The Sun.” There are not many Beatles covers that are viewed as superior to the Beatles version, but this cover is one of those rare moments.
Updated March 1, 2020
Top 10 Richie Havens Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2019
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