Checkout the below listed latest and best top 10 best Soul songs of all time 2017, Soul music has definitely changed over the years. Each decade has its own individual style of the genre. There is a radical difference between a Big Mama Willie Mae Thornton song (“You Ain’t Nothin’ But a Hound Dog”) and a Gladys Knight song, “Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me.” So whatever you call this genre–soul, R&B, black, or whatever–this post will celebrate 10 most influential songs that have ever graced this genre.
- 10. Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag–James Brown
- 9. The Thrill Is Gone-B.B. King
- 8. Beat It–Michael Jackson
- 7. I Will Always Love You–Whitney Houston
- 6. Soul Man–Sam and Dave
- 5. You Are the Sunshine of My Life–Stevie Wonder
- 4. You Are So Beautiful–Billy Preston
- 3. (Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay–Otis Redding
- 2. Love Train–The O’Jays
- 1. Best Thing that Ever Happened to Me–Gladys Knight and the Pips
Here we present the list of top 10 best Soul songs of all time 2017.
10. Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag–James Brown
This song came out in 1965. People are still singing and talking about it today. According to Wikipedia, this song is about an old man that was brave enough to get out on the dance floor and dance with the youngest of them. Written and produced by the late Godfather of Soul himself, Brown uses “bag” as the slang term for occupation, or thing that one does. Brown gives the song a certain reverb. This is especially apparent in the sound the electric guitar makes. And the guitarist is especially good on this song. The main instruments on this song, then, is the guitar, the bass, and the strong horn section. According to Wikipedia, the song peaked at #8 on Billboard’s Hot 100 music chart, but topped the soul chart.
9. The Thrill Is Gone-B.B. King
This is another gone but not forgotten artist. Riley B. King definitely was the king of the guitar. And in 1969, he sang and played “Lucille” on this top 10 record. According to Wikipedia, the song was cut in June, 1969, released as a single in December of the year. By early 1970 it had peaked at #15 in Billboard’s Hot 100. The song was originally written by Roy Hawkins and Rick Darnell in 1951. But King’s rendition of the tune is the best remembered version of the song, and always will be. Wikipedia rightfully points out that it became his signature song, and would be until his death in 2015.
8. Beat It–Michael Jackson
The record that sits at #8 is by yet another gone-but-not- forgotten artist. Michael Jackson, 24 at the time, was inspired to write the song by gang activity that he and his family witnessed growing up in Gary, Indiana. He wrote it as a way of saying that neither side has anything to prove, both sides should just call it a day and stop the fighting and killing. The song, according to Wikipedia, was written and co-produced by him and Quincy Jones. It features Jackson himself on an instrument called the “drum case beater,” late drummer Jeff Porcaro of Toto on drums, and the famous Eddie Van Halen on guitar. It was a #1 hit song in the spring of 1983–from the “Thriller” LP.
7. I Will Always Love You–Whitney Houston
“I Will Always Love You” was not originally by the late Whitney Houston. It was written and first recorded in 1974 by country singer Dolly Parton, who is rumored to have been crying while cutting the song. Houston, however, will be best remembered for the song–which she performed in the movie “The Bodyguard.” At the end of 1992 it became a #1 hit and stayed there a huge part of the beginning weeks of 1993. It became her most famous song. It was rereleased just after her death, and made significant headway on the charts even in 2012.
6. Soul Man–Sam and Dave
This song was written in 1967 by David Porter and the late Isaac Hayes. It was a Number 2 record for the singers, Sam and Dave. According to Wikipedia, it was inspired by the turmoil of the Civil Rights Movement of the 60s, which culminated in the 1967 Detroit riots. Hayes observed that black residents marked “SOUL” over buildings that survived the four-day event. Hayes said it was a song that told the story of one’s struggle to rise above his or her present circumstances.
The song was released in the fall of 1967, and features Stax session guitarist Steve Cropper on guitar, Al Jackson on drums, and Booker T. Jones on piano, and Hayes on organ.
The song has been covered many times over the years, most notably by Paul Revere and the Raiders, and most famously by the Blues Brothers, Canadian comedian Dan Aykroyd and the late John Belushi.
5. You Are the Sunshine of My Life–Stevie Wonder
This was a song written and produced by Motown artist Stevie Wonder. In 1973 this song hit #1, and became one of the Blind Wonder’s most remembered songs. It is a song about love between a man and a woman–pure and simple. It is a man’s serenade to the woman in his life, about the woman and how she lights up his life, and how she is the “apple of his eye.” The first two lines of the song are not sung by Wonder himself, born Steveland Judkins Morris on May 13, 1950 in Saginaw, Michigan, but by two session singers, as Wikipedia points out.
The first mentioned of these session singers is Gilstrap, now 70, best known for his co-lead vocal on the theme for the famous ’70s sitcom, “Good Times.” It’s he that sings the line, “Temporary layoffs.” Not much is known about the female voice, Lani Groves, except that she was with Wonder’s backup group Wonderlove.
4. You Are So Beautiful–Billy Preston
In 1974 the late Billy Preston, well-known for his #1 hit, “Nothing from Nothing,” also penned another song that’s a classic until this day. “You Are So Beautiful,” Preston’s version, briefly enjoyed some airplay near the end of ’74, but was updated by Joe Cocker, whose version became the bigger hit.
Today the song is a classic, although both songwriter and most famous singer of the song have both now gone on. The song has more recently been co-opted by the Gospel community, where it is sung about Jesus.
3. (Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay–Otis Redding
This sad, brooding song about a wasted life amounting to nothing was written by the late Otis Redding and Steve Cropper, who also plays the electric guitar you hear on the record. It was recorded just days before the singer’s tragic death in a Sunday, December 10th, 1967 plane crash. It was released the following year, and hit No. 1 in March of 1968, a posthumous hit for the soul singer. He was not all that respected during his life, and this is the first hit single to chart so high. But he was well-known for the Aretha Franklin song from earlier that year, “Respect.” His own children covered this song, as did Michael Bolton and Canadian group Doug and the Slugs. None of the above covers have broken the Top 10, although Bolton’s version came close, back in 1988.
2. Love Train–The O’Jays
This is a song that was appropriate for the time in which it was released. This is not a song about love between a man and a woman, but about universal love. It’s the type of emotion that’s all about respect for one’s fellow man and woman, one that will prevent the desire to fight and to kill one another because of national differences or personal beliefs. One that will prevent the desire to keep on fighting in Vietnam, as was going on at the time. It was Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff’s call to both sides in the war to stop fighting, and to end wars around the world.
It was backed by Huff and Gamble’s in-house group TSOP who had their own Number One Hit, “MFSB,” a year later.
This song is also remembered as the final track off the O’Jays “Backstabbers” LP. It went to #1 in the United States, and several other countries.
1. Best Thing that Ever Happened to Me–Gladys Knight and the Pips
This is another hit song for this family group that was written for them by Jim Weatherly. It has a sad quality to it that was in tune with the going emotion of the tunes written for radio in 1974. It was a love song about a person who has really touched the writer’s life over the years–whether it’s a spouse, a parent or a best friend, it’s unclear. Gladys Knight, with her unique, husky singing voice, took this song and made it her own. She added her own unique brand of soul to the song. It got no higher than #3, but it is still being played on oldies’ stations today. People still enjoy listening to this song because of the message behind the tune, and that is why I have nominated it as the Number One Soul Song of all time.
These are the 10 songs that I believe to have been the most excellent songs of the soul genre. They have changed our lives. They have made us laugh and dance, and sometimes even cry. They have destressed us after a long difficult day at school or at work. They have been our best friends. Some of the artists are still living, while others are not. But they will always be remembered, because their songs have left their footprint on our eardrums, and in our hearts.