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20 Best Songs by Al Green

20 Best Songs by Al Green

Soul crooner Al Green found his greatest success with a string of 70s hits like “Let’s Stay Together,” “Full of Fire,” and “Love and Happiness.” His effortless vocal talent created a soaring, distinctive style that transcended all musical genres.

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His range from gritty, husky funk to falsetto garnered multiple Grammy Awards and a well-deserved place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995.

With the exception of a well-publicized incident that took him off the scene in the mid-1970s, Green has never really lost his stride. He has a legion of fans that span generations.

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1. Back-Up Train

This is a song Green didn’t particularly care for, but critics say it’s one of his best works. It’s not quite as polished as his later works, but his undeniable vocal talent shines through.

This one definitely put him on the map, even sometimes Green says he loathed performing it.


2. Tired of Being Alone

Green shows his full range from baritone to simmering falsetto in this tune. This 1971 classic reached number 11 on the pop charts for all the right reasons. Green says the idea for the song came after he awakened from a nap after a stint in Detroit.

The song’s uncomparable grittiness was a recipe for his signature sound that many tried but was never able to duplicate.


3. I’m a Ram

Another song that bounced between gospel and secular. Green’s vocals, guitar riffs, and a funky horn section show a side of Green that few knew existed.

This fascinating piece of heaven seems a bit on the experimental side but it delivers. Pure musical madness at its finest.

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4. Let’s Stay Together

One of his biggest hits, Let’s Stay Together was his first number one hit. The song has proven to be a timeless song filled with a fraught yet soft appeal.

Penned by Green along with singer-songwriter Willie Mitchell, Let’s Stay Together brought out his pleadings with warmth and subtlety it deserved.


5. Love and Happiness

In this smash, the powerful organ playing of Mabon “Teenie” Hodges’ organ perfectly complements Green’s powerful voice.

The Acapella introduction sets the song’s mood. The duality of right and wrong, thumping horn section will keep you on the dance floor.


6. Beware

This minor hot of Green’s 73′ Livin’For You album has it all: blues, jazz, funk, and a heaping helping of soul.

Green’s warm, albeit unsettling warnings of lovers and ulterior motives work really well. There is a short version along with an 8-minute extended play.


7. Take Me to the River

One of his greatest songs, bar none. Green dedicates the song to a distant cousin, Little Junior Parker — the one who stole his money and cigarettes.

Again, the funky horn section accompanying Green’s powerful vocals is a treat for the ears. While Green dismisses the song, it is highly appreciated by those who admire his works.


8. Sha La La (Make Me Happy)

This smooth soul hit relied heavily upon strings to turn it into a smash. This million-dollar seller also permanently cemented Green’s name in pop culture.

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It was only a few weeks after its release that his on and off married girlfriend Mary Woodson dumped a hot bowl of grits on him while he bathed.

Green went into hiatus. After a long healing process, he emerged a new man delving into more spiritual music. He also became Reverend Al Green.


9. Georgia Boy

After the Green-Mitchell partnership dissolved in 1976, Green decided a full makeover was needed. That was the genesis of Georgia Boy off the Belle Album. It is also his first album after the split that had no gospel recordings.

On this catchy tune, Green’s own guitar work is on full display. Although this was recorded through a tumultuous time in Green’s life, he is able to deliver this throbbing, synthesized sound.


10. Standing in the Rain

Standing in the Rain is highly-revered by Roots member Questlove. It is the last offering off of Green’s 2008 Lay It Down album. Green’s honeyed vocals set against the horn background is a perfect blend. At the age of 62, Green proves that he still has it.

Some rank this effortless performance among his finest offerings. His work with Questlove, while sometimes a bit shaky, delivers. The lyrics are a telling of Green’s most successful, yet colorful career when he speaks of standing in the rain and withstanding pain.

Due to time constraints, Questlove says there was no room for error. Green more than delivers.


11. L-O-V-E

As a soulful musician, Al Green delivers an eloquent love story through this cheerful melody. Be sure to wear your dancing shoes when this song comes on. This feel good jam will definitely have you dancing the night away.

Al Green is known for producing timeless music, and this jam is no exception to the rule. Originally released in 1975 on his album “Al Green is Love”, this chart topping hit has withstood the test of time as it still streamed today.


12. Driving Wheel 

The Al Green rendition of this blues composition follows a different arrangement. Making the song a bit more soulful, Al Green delivers a delightful testament of his love that will transport you back to a simpler time.

Although many people can attest to being a fool for love, only Al Green could do it so beautifully. With a raspy falsetto and his distinctive style, Al Green delivers a beautiful masterpiece. 


13. For the Good Times 

In this woeful ballad, Al Green takes listeners on a sorrowful journey of an ending love. In his version of this beautiful melancholy number, Al Green pours his soul to deliver the message that life goes on.

While he may not have been the first to sing this tune, Al Green definitely made it his own. Although the message is a bit dampening, the song has a bittersweet vibe. If you have ever lost a love or have never loved at all, you may be able to relate to this tune. 


14. Here I am 

This upbeat hit record was recorded in 1973 for the “Call Me” album and has been covered by several different performers since its creation. If you are looking for a blast from the past, this should be at the top of your list.

Despite having a cheerful tune, “Here I Am” is Al Green’s plea of love to a woman that has broken his heart. Although this song was an instant hit, it gained more popularity with Al Green’s live performance of it on Soul Train. 


15. Look What You Done For Me 

“Look What You Done for Me” is one of the sweetest love songs ever written by Al Green.

Written in 1972 on the “I’m Still in Love with You” album, this chart topping single will remind you of what love truly is. Although it is never perfect, love’s tender kiss is forever heartwarming. 


16. Belle

Although it is one of the lesser known Al Green songs, this subtle and sweet song was Al’s first venture into creating Gospel music.

The track features a trip to the confession booth with passionate lyrics that tell the story of why Al Green has chosen God over the woman he loves.

In this song, Al Green shows a glimpse of his transition into a spiritually introspective vocalist. 


17. Simply Beautiful 

Another treasure off of the “Still in Love with You” album, this charming ballad is just as the title suggests, simply beautiful.

Its soulful sound has inspired many songs today. Artists like Kanye West and Destiny’s Child have sampled the song in their own works. 


18. Light My Fire 

In his version of this classic rock tune, Al Green shows off his musical range and guitar skills. With versatility and a raspy tone, this song is beautifully executed.

As a single on the album “Al Green Gets Next to You”, this song tells a tale of inspiration. 


19. Everything’s Gonna Be Alright

Although it is not as popular as some of Al’s other hits, this powerful tune is an upbeat song with an important message. As one of Al’s gospel testaments, this song delivers a message about faith and belief.

While most Gospel songs in this era were slow and sad melodies, this upbeat tune goes against the grain. If you are looking for a song to lift your spirits, this may be right up your alley. 


20. Oh Me, Oh My 

Another classic single from the album “Al Green is Love” is this little charming song. Evoking nostalgic feelings of simpler times, Al sings a song of love and the fear of losing it.

Al takes listeners on a journey through his sweet dreams and nightmares. If you have ever been in love, you may be able to relate to this bittersweet song.