Top Ten Organ Songs

Okay, stop you’re grade 8 snickering, I’m talking the musical instrument organ, not what ever you might be laughing at. The organ has had a pretty good run in rock. It’s not used regularly but when it is, it tends to be with great effect. And while this list is pretty much all classic rock, you might be surprised on what made it.Take a look at the list below and you’ll see what I mean.

10) The Wallflowers – 6th Avenue Heartache

A bit of a personal choice, I absolutely love the guitar and organ parts in this song. While not as stand out as on some of the other tracks, the organ gives 6th Avenue Heartache a nice backing track and feel to the tune. And don’t worry, Jakob Dylan’s Dad also makes the list.

9) Emerson, Lake & Palmer – Karn Evil 9

twenty nine minutes of prog rock organ greatness.

8) Yes – Roundabout

http://youtu.be/-Tdu4uKSZ3M

If I didn’t include a song by Yes, I’m pretty sure the cult of Rick Wakeman would show up at my door. To be fair however, this is really good work, Wakeman’s hands blazing through solos, cool stuff.

7) The Spencer Davis Group – Gimme Some Lovin’

http://youtu.be/MVZxiQnOA-A

Steve Winwood just wailin away, it’s an easy lock for this list. It may not be as flashy as his organ work with Traffic or his solo career but I think this may be the most fun.

6) Led Zeppelin – Your Time Is Gonna Come

http://youtu.be/oLuE6ftUI2g

Epic is probably the best way to describe the organ work on this song and while Zeppelin did use the organ a fair amount (“Thank You” is another great example), “Your Time Is Gonna Come” is where it really gets noticed

5) Deep Purple – Hush

Deep Purple found great use for the organ on many of it’s tracks (the intro to Perfect Strangers is just fantastic) but on “Hush”, it’s really used as the driving force behind the tune. What a lot of people don’t realize is this is actually a cover of a song performed by Billy Joe Royal, best known for “Down In The Boondocks”.

4) Booker T and The M.G.s – Green Onions

Used in a metric ton of movie trailers and films, everyone and their grandmother can instantly recognize this tune but very few people can tell you it’s name.

3) The Doors – Light My Fire

http://youtu.be/deB_u-to-IE

One of the few rock bands to have the organ as a front row instrument, Ray Manzarek’s keys took front and centre on Light My Fire, that opening riff becoming one of the best rock songs intros ever.

2) Procol Harum – A Whiter Shade Of Pale

How can anyone not like this song? Okay, I may be a little biased (my Dad had a tape of this when I was a kid and it was heard on the way to the cottage from time to time when it was just the two of us) but honestly, it’s a great song with a tremendous use of the organ despite the fact that the lyrics don’t make a heck of a lot of sense.

1) Bob Dylan – Like A Rolling Stone

http://vimeo.com/20289762

Probably the most popular song in Dylan’s vast catalogue, it almost didn’t happen. Dylan was having issues with the song but felt they hit pay dirt with the organ sounds of session musician Al Kooper. The song also signalled the start of Dylan’s move away from strictly folk music and into a more rock oriented sound.

So my friends, did I miss any? Or do I have someone up there with the wrong song? Feel free to leave me your comments below!

 

 

 

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Brent Chittenden

Brent Chittenden is a freelance writer with a gift for the geek. Currently a writer with A Journal Of Musical Things and a podcaster with True North Nerds, he's also written for Comic Book Daily, Explore Music and a dozen other places. Currently, he is the co-host of the True North Nerds podcast. You can find out more at www.facebook.com/bcchittenden

11 thoughts on “Top Ten Organ Songs

  • March 28, 2014 at 10:17 am
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    The Band- Chest Fever

    Reply
    • March 30, 2014 at 7:49 pm
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      Agreed! Garth Hudson was a mad genius on the organ.

      Reply
  • March 28, 2014 at 11:36 am
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    Head Smack! YES! Iron Butterfly should be on the list. I kinda like some newer stuff I’ve heard from Alan Hawkshaw but might be to new to qualify for this list.

    Reply
  • March 28, 2014 at 12:00 pm
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    I think Mr. Lord deserves number one with his style and creativity on this awesome instrument! Nobody played it like him!

    Reply
  • March 29, 2014 at 9:47 am
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    My personal fave is Don’t Dream it’s Over by Crowded House. It’s not an organ dominated song but when it comes in on the solo and the outro it just crushes it.

    Reply
    • March 29, 2014 at 9:55 am
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      Great pic that I completely overlooked (probably because I don’t usually associate organs with Crowded House) . LOVE Crowded House.

      Reply
  • November 12, 2016 at 9:16 pm
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    One of the best up there near the No1 spot has got to be Sylvia by Focus.

    Reply
  • January 12, 2017 at 3:33 am
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    No Vanilla fudge, or Atomic Rooster?

    Reply
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