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Top 25 Songs of The Southern Rock Era

by Michael Buffalo Smith

1. Freebird - Lynyrd Skynyrd
    As if there was any doubt whatsoever. Not only Southern Rock’s number one, but one of the Top Two in classic rock. Ronnie Van Zant’s crowning glory.

2. Can't You See- Marshall Tucker
   The Marshall Tucker Band’s biggest hit ever wasn’t sung by their lead singer, it was sung by it’s writer, the great Toy Caldwell. Toy said many times that he was not really a singer, but the honest truth is, nobody else, even Doug, could have sung this song. It is Toy all the way.

3. Whipping Post-Allman Brothers
   Especially the live version from Fillmore East. Never has there been a more passionate vocal - Gregg Allman sings his own composition with heart and soul to spare, and the band, lead by brother Duane, simply smokes.

4. The Devil Went Down to Georgia-Charlie Daniels Band
    Charlie hit his stride with this, his biggest hit ever, a song that received as much air play on country radio as on rock radio. The tale of the fiddler battling the devil has become one of the most recognizable songs in history, and Charlie’s fiddle couples with Tommy Crain’s guitar and a brilliant story lyric to create a timeless masterpiece.

5. Queen of Hearts - Gregg Allman
    When I asked Gregg his favorite song of his own, he didn’t hesitate in telling me it was “Queen of Hearts.” No small wonder, as Gregg sings his song straight from the heart, and plays some amazing B-3. The Laid Back album’s centerpiece.

6. Sweet Home Alabama- Lynyrd Skynyrd
    No, Ronnie didn’t hate Neil Young. That was record company hype. Things have really changed since the single originally dropped. The record is now a staple of country radio, which is a perfect example of how much Southern Rock has influenced today’s country.

7. Green Grass and High Tides- The Outlaws
   An epic Southern Rock song, like “Free Bird,” a real classic, with Hughie Thomasson singing and playing to beat the band.

8. Highway Song- Blackfoot
   The third “epic” in our trilogy, featuring the patented “start slow and then speed up” formula. Powerhouse drums from Jakson Spires, bass from Greg T. Walker and guitars from Rick Medlocke and Charlie Hargrett. Classic, man.

9. Melissa- Allman Brothers
    Although Gregg had recorded it before, the definitive version recorded for Eat a Peach took on a whole new meaning following the death of brother Duane Allman. You’d be hard pressed to find a Southern Rock fan who doesn’t immediately think of Duane when they hear “Melissa.”

10. Sang Her Love Songs- Winters Bros. Band
     Another “long” song, and perhaps the best loved of the Winters Brothers catalog. Moody and rockin’ the country, like Marty Robbins meets Marshall Tucker Band.

11. Blue Sky- The Allman Brothers Band
     Dickey Bett’s love song to his former wife Sandy Blue Sky, a beautiful, country rock track with amazing guitar twin leads. A song I never, ever get tired of.

12. Please Be With Me - Cowboy
     Scott Boyer’s classic, with Tommy Talton and all the rest, and with Duane Allman on Dobro. One of the downright prettiest songs ever.

13. Mean to Your Queenie - Point Blank
     The Texas rockers rip it up. What the hell did you expect?

14. South's Gonna Do it Again - Charlie Daniels Band
     The ultimate roll call for Southern Rock bands, and a rebel yell if ever there was one. Be proud you’re a rebel!

15. Jessica - The Allman Brothers Band
     The greatest instrumental in Southern Rock history, with amazing piano from Chuck Leavell and some of Dickey’s best lead work ever.

16. Don't Misunderstand Me- Rossington Collins Band
     One kick ass Southern Rock song, with Dale Krantz wailing like Janis Joplin and Ann Wilson combined. Damn that woman can sing! My favorite part is the cowbell solo.

17. Dreams (I'll Never See) - Molly Hatchet/ Allman Brothers Band
     A true Allmans classic, but the Hatchet version just plain freakin’ rocks the house. Danny Joe rules.

18. Fire On The Mountain - Marshall Tucker Band
     George McCorkle wrote one hell of a western themed song, and Toy’s pedal steel is as smooth as Tennessee sipping whiskey. Doug Gray outdoes himself on the vocal.

19. Ramblin’ Man - Allman Brothers Band
     Another Dickey Betts tune I could listen to over and over. I just love Dickey’s voice as well as his guitar style.

20. Flirtin’ with Disaster - Molly Hatchet
    Can I get a big “Hell Yeah!?” Every time I have heard this on radio or on record I have automatically turned the volume up to eleven. The song begs to be played loud.

21. Heard it in a Love Song - Marshall Tucker Band
    True confessions. The first tim I heard it, I would have sworn Doug was singing “Purty little love song.” That being said, the song is another all time favorite. Jerry’s flute makes the song.

22. Homesick- Atlanta Rhythm Section
    I love the signature riff, I love the lyrics. An amazing song that is great live and  also fun to perform live.

23. In Memory of Elizabeth Reed -Allman Brothers
     Dickey Betts’ absolutely breathtakingly beautiful instrumental. Nuff said.

24. La Grange - ZZ Top
   Ah, that little ol’ band from Texas singing about a Texas whore house. It don’t get no better than that, does it. My favorite song when I was a Junior in High School.

25. Hold On Loosely - 38 Special
     Okay, “Caught Up in You” is my personal 38 favorite, but “Hold On” was my first ever exposure to Donnie Van Zant and Don Barnes, so it holds a special place in my heart, as well as in the hearts and minds of Southern Rockers the world over.

Agree? Disagree? We welcome your comments.

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