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The 25 Best Songs: The Mashall Tucker Band

by Michael Buffalo Smith

I will never forget the first time I heard the music of The Marshall Tucker Band. Not only were they a blend of every kind of music I loved, from blues to country rock to jazz, they were from my home town of Spartanburg, SC. It was an immediate bonding between band and fan. A bond that has lasted over 35 years.

While I love almost every song the band ever recorded, I decided to list what I truly feel are their 25 best songs. Please let me know if you agree or disagree.

1. Can’t You See
    I always say if I had a dollar for every time I have ever sang this song or heard someone else do it, I’d be rich. This has been the perennial “jam” selection ever since 1974, for bar bands and pros alike, and it's Toy Caldwell’s best known composition ever. It has been recorded by everyone from Alabama to Hank, Jr, to Bo Bice and of course Waylon Jennings. A timeless, classic country blues standard.

2. Heard it in a Love Song
    Tucker’s biggest chart hit, summer of ‘77. What a great time that was. The summer they played their Homecoming show in Spartanburg and people all over the country were asking if Doug was singing “Purty Little Love Song.” Jerry’s flute helped to make the melody timeless.

3. This Ol’ Cowboy
    My own personal favorite MTB tune. Summer of ‘75. I was in Myrtle Beach, and I kept pumping quarters into the juke box to play this one, “No More Mr. Nice Guy” by Alice Cooper and “Bad Time” by Grand Funk. Paul Riddle's Buddy Rich style drums. Toy did a smoking version on his solo album as well.

4. Fire On The Mountain
    George McCorkle’s most popular song and another timeless staple of classic rock radio. Toy was the primary songwriter, but George turned in some major classics.

5. Last of the Singing Cowboys
   Like I said.... This was one I always told George was another favorite of mine. I could listen to it every day. Paul T. Riddle shines on the percussion. I love the story songs.

6. Silverado
    Can anyone say “three in a row?” George’s son Justin told me this is his favorite MTB song, and it was always one of mine. Anyone remember the excellent music video they shot for this? George played the bad guy and man was he good!

7. Runnin’ Like the Wind
    Another tune I never tire of. Everybody gets a solo to shine on, and the melody and lyrics are prime choice cuts. The band’s first record after moving from Capricorn to Warner Brothers.

8. Long Hard Ride
    Remember when MTB was nominated for a Grammy for Best Country Instrumental? They were beat out by “Chester and Lester” (Chet Atkins and Les Paul) but their crossover appeal gave my country loving daddy and his rock and roll son something to talk about.

9. Ramblin’
    Especially the live version on Where We All Belong. Doug Gray’s ultimate vocal. Amazing. And the song rocked like nobody’s business.

10. 24 Hours at a Time
    An MTB classic live, with solos and serious jams, especially when Charlie Daniels was in the house with his fiddle.

11. Desert Skies
    If you were riding a horse slowly across the desert at sunset it would sound like this song. A beautiful, lazy melody with some beautiful Jerry Eubanks sax.

12. Take The Highway
     The first MTB song I ever heard, and it blew me away. I knew I’d be a fan for life, and I have been. Another simply amazing Toy composition, with Toy and his brother Tommy wailing on their instruments.

13. This Time I Believe
     After Tommy was killed and the band hired Frank Wilkie, they put out the Dedicated record and this was the single. I have never been a beach music kind of guy, and this song does fit that category, but I never get tired of hearing this track. The band ended up  playing it on a bunch of national TV shows, including a fun lip sync version on Solid Gold with their instruments unplugged, just hamming it up.

14. Blue Ridge Mountain Skies
     A true classic from the band’s second album. A perfect example of what they were all about at the time.

15. Asking Too Much of You
    An absolutely beautiful song Doug Gray performed at their SC Hall of Fame induction in 1995 with George McCorkle and Rusty Milner on acoustic guitars.

16. Searching for a Rainbow
    Another signature MTB song. Dickey Betts played lead on the original album version.

17. In My Own Way
     Country to the bone, I remember when I was running sound for The Silver Travis Band back in 1981 or so, they did a great version of the song.

18. Ride in Peace
    The band’s tribute to brother Tommy Caldwell following his death. A sad but beautiful tune that closed out the Dedicated album.

19. King of the Delta Blues
     From the Beyond the Horizon record just a few years back, this great Chris Hicks song was written about blues legend Robert Johnson, and is a rocking duet between Hicks and Jimmy Hall.

20. Face Down in the Blues
     The title track of their 1998 album and quite a catchy tune.

21. Stay in the Country
     Written by Tim Lawter for their Southern Spirit record of 1990. All of us fans were sure this song was going to put the band back on top, but even with a lot of air play, it never realized its full potential. Still, the fans were happy to have a real MTB sounding song.

22. It Takes Time
     A powerful opening set number during their Tenth tour, the song set the bar pretty damned high for the rest of the show.

23. Fly Like an Eagle
     The band’s 1977 Carolina Dreams record was just packed with goodness, and this track was no exception. They simply smoked this song live, and I have so many happy memories of watching Toy lean back and rip into his 335 during the solos.

24. Time Don’t Pass By Here
      Just a really great country song written by Ronnie Godfrey when he was in the band. A unique spin on death for sure.

25. Cattle Drive
     One of the most powerful songs they ever played live, with Tommy Caldwell and Paul Riddle driving the herd right through the middle of your head.

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