Our Top 10 Taj Mahal Songs list takes a look at an eclectic singer, songwriter, musician, film composer and actor. He plays various instruments such as the guitar, piano, harmonica, banjo as well as other instruments. He changed the style of blues music by combining different sounds from the islands. He combined Caribbean, African, Hawaiian, India and South Pacific music to create his sound. He won three Grammy Awards throughout his career. In addition to his long music career, he worked as an actor. He appeared in Sounder (1972), Sounder Part 2 (1976), Scott Joplin (1977), Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey (1991), Once Upon a Time…When We Were Colored (1995), Six Days, Seven Nights (1998) and Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood (2002) as well as others. He appeared on the TV shows New WKRP in Cincinnati (1992), Party of Five (1999) and Arthur (2003). He composed the music for the films Brothers (1977) and Zebrahead (1997).
Henry St. Claire Fredericks Jr. was born on May 17, 1942. He grew up in a musical environment. His mother was in a gospel choir. His father was a piano player. Once he became interested in music, he changed his name to Taj Mahal. He came up with the name from dreams he had about India and social tolerance. In 1964, he was in the band Rising Suns. The group was one of the few interracial bands around at that time. It hindered their chances of being successful. They recorded several songs, but they only released one because of creative differences. The band ended up breaking up. Mahal went on to pursue a solo career.
Taj Mahal released his debut eponymous album in 1968. The album features the singles “Leaving Trunk,” “Everybody’s Got to Change Somehow,” “Statesboro Blues,” “Checkin’ Up on My Baby” and “Dust My Broom.” The Natch’l Blues was also released in 1968. It features the singles “Corrina,” “She Caught the Katy and Left Me a Mule to Ride,” “You Don’t Miss Your Water (‘Til The Well Runs Dry)” and “Ain’t That a Lot of Love.” Giant Step/De Ole Folks at Home came out in 1969. The double album features the songs “Take a Giant Step,” “Good Morning Little Schoolgirl,” “You’re Gonna Need Somebody on Your Bond,” “Six Days on the Road,” “Stagger Lee” and “Fishin’ Blues.”
Happy Just to Be Like I Am came out in 1971. It features the singles “Happy Just to Be Like I Am,” “Stealin’,” “Oh, Susanna,” “18 Hammers” and “Tomorrow May Not Be Your Day.” OOOh So Good ‘n Blues came out in 1973. The album features the singles “Frankie and Albert,” “Dust My Broom,” “Little Red Hen” and “Built for Comfort.” Mo’ Roots came out in 1974. It features the singles “Cajun Waltz,” “Slave Driver,” “Why Did You Have to Desert Me,” “Desperate Lover” and “Black Jack Davey.”
Music Keeps Me Together came out in 1975. It features the songs “Music Keeps Me Together,” “When I Feel the Sea Beneath My Soul,” “Dear Ladies” and “Brown Eyed Handsome Man.” Satisfied ‘n Tickled Too came out in 1976. It features the singles “Ain’t Nobody’s Business,” “Baby Love,” “Easy to Love,” “We Tune” and “Misty Morning Ride.” Music Fuh Ya’ (Musica Para Too) was released in 1977. The album features the singles “Freight Train,” “Baby, You’re My Destiny” and “Honey Babe.”
Evolution (The Most Recent) was released in 1977. It features the singles “Sing a Happy Song,” “Queen Bee,” “Lockdown Showdown” and “The Big Blues.” Taj was released in 1987. It features the songs “Deed I Do,” “Pillow Talk,” “Do I Love Her” and “Paradise.” Like Never Before came out in 1991. The album features the singles “Blues with a Feeling,” “Take All the Time You Need,” “River of Love” and “Don’t Call Us.”
Dancing the Blues was released in 1993. It features the songs “That’s How Strong My Love Is,” “Hard Way,” “Down Home Girl” and “Stranger in My Own Home Town.” Phantom Blues was released in 1996. It features the tracks “Ooh Poo Pah Doo,” “Lonely Avenue,” “What Am I Living For?” and “(You’ve Got to) Love Her With a Feeling,” TajMo came out in 2017. The album features the singles “Don’t Leave Me Here, “She Knows How to Rock Me,” “That’s Who I Am,” “All Around the World.” Taj Mahal released several albums including live and compilations throughout his career.
Taj Mahal is a talented singer, songwriter and musician. He released several albums throughout his career. He sings different genres of music so he isn’t pigeonholed into one area. In addition to recording his own music, he’s a film composer. He’s blessed to be able to record music for decades. There aren’t too many musicians who can say that. This Top 10 Taj Mahal Songs list will feature his best songs.
# 10 – You’re Going to Need Somebody on Your Bond
The first song on our Top 10 Taj Mahal Songs list is “You’re Going to Need Somebody on Your Bond” from the Giant Step/De Ole Folks at Home album. The song has a blues and gospel sound. The unique song is a gospel song about needing help from Jesus. The lyrics are different. Mahal uses names from the bible so he’s educating his listeners with the track. The lyrics are meaningful and he’s telling a story about you needing Jesus when you are in trouble. There aren’t too many artists who can cleverly mix blues and gospel music together.
He managed to sing gospel lyrics without coming off preachy. You don’t have to be heavily into gospel music to appreciate the lyrics to the song. The song is similar to Blind Willie Johnson’s version of it. Johnson’s version of the song is bluesy while Mahal’s version has an upbeat blues, soul and gospel sound. The verses in Mahal’s version are different from the original, but the chorus is the same. Mahal’s version is upbeat, energetic and bouncy. You can dance to it. He has a harmonica solo in it that will blow your mind. Mahal’s vocals are deep and soulful. He sings with a lot of passion. He sounds convincing as he explains needing Jesus to help you.
# 9 – Everybody’s Got to Change Sometime
The next song on our Top 10 Taj Mahal Songs list is “Everybody’s Got to Change Sometime from his eponymous album. It has a blues sound. The deep song is about changing. The lyrics have a double meaning. The lyrics seem like a good thing at first, but that changes the longer you listen to it. He wants you to stop and smell the roses because you are going to end up dying anyway. He also talks about changing the woman he’s with in the song. It’s up to you how you wish to interpret the song.
This is another cover on our Top 10 Taj Mahal Songs list. He’s not playing around when he lets the listeners know they need to change. The music is funky. It has an enjoyable bassline that will grab your attention. The guitar riffs are incredible. The piano chords set off the music. The drums give the song tempo, which will allow you to bop your head to the beat. His vocals are good. He sings fast so you may not understand everything he’s saying in the song. His raspy vocals fit with the bluesy music.
# 8 – Frankie and Albert
The dramatic song is from the OOOh So Good ‘n Blues album. The track has a blues sound. The jaw dropping song is about a woman named Frankie who finds out that her man Albert is having an affair with another woman. She ends up killing him after she catches him with another woman. She’s arrested and executed for her crime. The lyrics sound like a soap opera or the plot of a movie. The lyrics will have you intrigued. He builds up an interesting story. You are waiting with baited breath to find out what happened to Frankie.
The theme of the song is different. He made Frankie come off sympathetic because she was betrayed. This song is another remake on our list. The track has been covered many times by different artists. Did Taj Mahal make his version stand out from the rest? The answer to that question is yes he did. He keeps listeners hooked as he talks about what happened to Frankie. His version of the song is stripped to allow you to focus on the story. You can also focus on his vocals. He voice is rich and soulful. His voice is mesmerizing and will hold your attention until he’s done.
# 7 – Don’t Leave Me Here ft. Keb Mo
The meaningful song is from the TajMo album. The song has a blues beat. The enigmatic song is about women, food, towns, and the weather. It’s a debate about two different places. Mississippi is considered a sweet place to live while Chicago is a bad place to be. The duo seems to enjoy being in Mississippi and want to get away from Chicago. The song might be offensive to people who live in Chicago because they talk about being stuck and not wanting to be there. The song could spark up debates with people from both places. If they wanted to get people talking, this song did an excellent job. Taj Mahal was in the music business for decades when this song was recorded. Some artists who have been in the business for as many years as he was would be out of their prime at this point. He’s like a fine wine because he’s getting better with age.
He stuck with the same formula that kept him in the business while giving it an updated sound. The music is still old school, but it can be appreciated today. The horn section drives the song. Mahal is a master on the harp. Keb Mo is a genius on the guitar. The rest of the musicians do a superb job keeping up with the dynamic duo. Mahal’s raspy vocals fit right in with the music. He sounds as good as ever on the track. Keb Mo’s voice is pleasant on the ear. He provides the response to Mahal. They work well together.
# 6 – Johnny Too Bad
The cautionary tale is from the Mo’ Roots album. The song has a blues and reggae sound. It’s an ominous song about Johnny robbing people. The song is a warning to him about what’s going to happen to him. Johnny isn’t going to have a good life because of the way he was living it. The song has a message about suffering the consequences of your actions. The song is another remake on our list. It’s a tribute to reggae music. Mahal mixes blues and reggae. This is different from the other songs on our list because he played around with a different genre. The music is melancholy to fit in with the theme. The music sounds like it was created in the south. It will allow you to sway your hips along with the music.
The instrumentation is fantastic. The guitar, bass and drums are worth a listen. Mahal is a master at the harmonica. You should be aware that he sounds very different on this song. He uses an accent while he’s singing the lyrics. His tone is pretty good and easy on the ear. The only minor complaint is that he’s hard to understand. You would have to read the lyrics to understand what he’s saying on the track. He took a chance and it paid off.
# 5 – Oh Susanna
The next song on our Top 10 Taj Mahal Songs list is “Oh Susanna” from the Happy Just to Be Like I Am album. The song has a rock and blues sound to it. The controversial song is about him going to Louisiana to see his girlfriend. This is a remake of an old folk song by Stephen Foster. This track was an odd choice for Mahal to cover. He is an African American singer, but he chose to sing a song with racist undertones. He changed some of the lyrics to remove the racist portions of the song. If you can get past the origin of the song, you will find his version enjoyable.
The song features an interpolation of the folk song of the same name. The music is energetic and upbeat. The thumping drumbeat drives the song. The guitar gives the music something extra to enjoy. The horn section is fire. There’s something in it for everyone to enjoy. Mahal sounds different on this track. His voice isn’t as raspy on this track. He tries his hand at belting on the song. He didn’t do that on the other tracks on our list. The belting would have worked better if he didn’t try to sing outside of his ability, but it doesn’t hurt the song.
# 4 – Lovin’ In My Baby’s Eyes
The loving song is from the Phantom Blues album. It has a blues sound. The romantic song is about wanting to see the loving look in his baby’s eyes. The lyrics are moving and romantic. They will melt your heart and put you in a loving mood. He passionately describes the love in his baby’s eyes. Anyone who is in love can definitely relate to the lyrics. The music has an old school sound to it. It was recorded in the 90s, but it sounds as if it were recorded earlier than that.
It combines blues and folk music. You don’t have to be a fan of these genres to enjoy the music. Mahal does a wonderful job on the harmonica. The guitar and bassline are fire. The melody of the hook is similar to “Drift Away” by Dobie Gray. Mahal doesn’t use his signature raspy vocals on the track. His voice is smooth and velvety which is pleasant to hear. He sings the song passionately as if he’s dedicating it to someone in particular. The song is an earworm that will stay in your head after it’s done.
# 3 – Corrina
The heartbreaking song is from The Natch’l Blues album. It has a blues and folk sound. The refreshing song is about his love for Corrina. He wants the world to know that he loves Corrina. He wouldn’t trade her for anything. The lyrics are beautiful and breathtaking. They are bound to make anyone crumble as they listen to it. It’s designed to put anyone in a romantic mood. Your name doesn’t have to be “Corrina” to be touched by the song. Most of us want to be loved the way he loves “Corrina.” The music has a kick to it. The musical arrangement is beautiful. The drums are fire and drive the beat. The harmonica is fierce.
The musical pause is worth checking out. You can get lost listening to the hypnotic music. Mahal is at his finest while serenading the listeners. The clarity of his voice is on point. He has perfect diction on the track. Mahal sounds cool as ever while he’s singing the lyrics. His timing is superb on the track. He sings in time with the driving drumbeat. He never misses a beat while he’s singing the lyrics. Everything about the song works.
# 2 – Leaving Trunk
The striking song is from his eponymous album. It has a blues sound. The expressive song is about the blues. He sings about a sensual married woman with a dangerous husband. He finds out that his wife is cheating on him. He sings about the blues making him drunk. He wants to pack his things in his trunk and leave. The song has an unusual title, but the message is clear. The woman in the song wants to have an affair, but doesn’t want her husband to find out about it. The song is also about a one-night-stand. He debates whether he should have an affair with the woman. Who needs a soap opera when you can listen to a track like this one? The lyrics are practically a script from a movie.
The intoxicating lyrics will hold your attention until the song is done. The music compliments the story that Mahal is trying to convey. It has a bluesy sound and it’s pure magic. The instrumentation is perfect for this story. The guitar riffs make the song sound soulful with a funky beat. The harmonica and guitar riffs sell the music. Mahal proves that he’s a genius on the harmonica while he’s playing during the musical pause. The drums give the song tempo. Mahal’s vocals are excellent on this song. He sings it with a lot of soul. His vocals are strong and he can keep up with the loud music. The instrumentation doesn’t drown him out.
# 1 – You Don’t Miss Your Water (‘Til Your Well Runs Dry)
The number one song on our Top 10 Taj Mahal Songs list is “You Don’t Miss Your Water (‘Til Your Well Runs Dry)” from The Natch’l Blues album. The song has a soul and blues sound to it. The anthemic song is about a woman leaving him and not appreciating him while she had him. He lets her know that she will “miss the water” once the well is dry. This song was recorded in the 60s, but it’s still relevant today. People who are in bad relationships could relate to this track. You can also relate to this song if you have broken up with someone. This song will make you think about what went wrong in your relationship. He’s giving a message to someone that she will miss him when he’s gone. We all want the people who leave to realize how good they had it at the time.
The song is another remake on our list. He covered Otis Redding’s version of the track. Mahal’s version is bluesy and soulful while Otis Redding’s is soul and r&b. There’s a slight change to the music. The change was enough to keep the song from being a Karaoke version. The music is slow and melodic. It has a tenderness that will touch your heart. He sings the song with a lot of soul and passion. You can feel his emotion as he’s pouring his heart out. This is his best vocal performance out of the songs on our list. He proves why he should be one of the best blues singers in the music business. He wants to reach your soul with his voice and he does a great job at it. This song deserves the number one spot on our list.
Feature Photo: Millard Agency (management), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
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