The harmonica is seemingly one of the most underrated musical instruments of all time. When people think about musical instruments they are more than likely to stick to more of a mainstreamed instrument such as a guitar, keyboard, piano, saxophone, or violin.
The fact of the matter is, there are many great sounds that the harmonica can produce but people have never been enlightened to the point of wanting to pursue playing the instrument or even listening to songs with a harmonica feature or simply the harmonica as the main tune.
Many can hear harmonica features in blues songs, country songs, rock songs, and many more. Here we have composed a list of the top fifteen best harmonica songs. This list is in no apparent order however it will be packed full of gems that will hopefully inspire you to pick up the harmonica or add a few of these songs to your go-to musical catalog.
Best Harmonica Songs
1. Shape of My Heart- Sting
This song was about a card player, where the player was not focused on winning but more so was focused on finding the logic and mystery behind chance. It was focused on the idea of a card player whose sole purpose was to show no emotion either positively or negatively thus being able to identify the meaning of life beyond just winning.
2. Long Train Runnin- Doobie Brothers
The vivid percussion of this song exemplifies and intensifies the meaning behind it. In this song by the Doobie Brothers, they seem to tap into senses and feelings of where would you be without love. One of the lines in the song goes “you know I saw Miss Lucy, down along the tracks, she lost her home and her family and she won’t be coming back”.
As sad as that line is, that can be a reality for a lot of people and one could even take it a step further to say that perhaps this song is diving deep into the ideologies of depression. Without love where would you be? Would you crumble under the pressures or would you be able to maintain your life and prosper?
Expert Tip: This song, even though it is depressive at times, there are encouraging words such as “got to keep on pushin’ mama” that set the tone and make this piece such a classic.
3. Cryin- Aerosmith
This song is an absolute classic. In this song, the artist is describing a very up-and-down song relationship. They are in love yet they are not able to get the love they deserve from their partner in return. This song makes exemplifies what would be termed a “toxic” relationship in today’s era.
“You opened your mouth with bated breath” was such a powerful line in this song. Their lover was waiting in anticipation of something great, yet they were not able to give the same energy that they were looking for. “You love me, you hate me, you cut me down to size, you blinded me with your love and yeah, it opened my eyes”.
This was yet another powerful line in the song alluding to the fact that this was such a love-hate relationship and the partner was just blinding them with love thus forcing them to not see the true and deeper issues that were pertinent in the relationship because they were in fact so in love.
Keep this song on your list of oldies but goodies if you haven’t listened before.
4. Whammer Jammer- Magic Dick
This song is AMAZING although it does not have any lyrics to analyze, it is just as magical as if it did. This song is entirely made up of the artist playing a solo on the harmonica. It is very upbeat and light-hearted. This is a song that should be played at any festival or party alike. It is intensely a “get on your feet” type of song.
5. Shape of my Heart- Sting
This song is such a classic. This song has been remixed and the ballad has been used so many times over the years and that is how you know that it is a gem. This song has a harmonica solo that is so smooth and uplifting and just all-around easy on the ears.
6. Road House Blues- The doors
This song is a really solid song. The theme of this song is to simply have a good time. Driving down the road with friends and just grooving out. There is an undertone and a hidden context behind the song which is that you can not control what happens in life so you just have to let it roll.
Expert Tip: “Let it roll baby roll” is the hook of this song and it is so catchy you might even find yourself singing that out loud in any sticky situation that you can not change the outcome to.
There was a powerful verse at the end which was “The future is uncertain and the end is always near”. The artist was trying to drive the narrative of just living your life day by day and don’t sweat the small stuff because the future is uncertain and you’ve just gotta let it roll, baby, roll.
7. Blackfoot- Train Train
This is a vivacious southern rock jam. The opening of this song is a strong harmonica solo. This song is talking about getting out of their town and the fact that the train is going to take them to a new place.
For many songs like this, you would not assume that the meaning behind them would be so simple due to the lyrics, however, it is possible that some songs are just as they are written and do not necessarily have a deeper meaning.
This song, although it is simple, it is packed with powerful riffs of the harmonica that many would deem as simply amazing.
8. Love Me Do- Beatles
This song is such a classic by the Beatles and seriously, who doesn’t love the Beatles? This song is about professing one love to another and wanting the have that sense of being loved in return. Throughout this classic, there are harmonicas blazing with harmonious riffs that only can be described as pure bliss and magic to my ears.
9. Supertramp- School
This song is simply electrifying. This song was released back in 1974 and many have been rocking to it ever since. This song also includes a heavy harmonica emphasis but is just as unique in its own way.
10. The Promised Land-Bruce Springsteen
This song by Bruce Springsteen talks about taking a trip to the “Promised land”. This song came to fruition and was inspired by taking a trip to Utah and Nevada, where Springsteen and his photographer and guitarist were essentially looking for photo ops, and Springsteen wanted to venture to all of the destinations that he had once dreamed of as a kid.
“I’ve done my best to live the right way, I get up every morning and go to work each day. But your eyes go blind and your blood runs cold, sometimes I feel so weak I just want to explode”. How many of us can relate to this? Sometimes you can get so bogged down with your day-to-day life and feel as though there is not an outlet for you to just feel free.
Expert Tip: With this song, it seems as though Springsteen was just “freeing” himself so to speak. He was able to for once take on something that was bigger than himself and was able to do so with such an eagerness.
11. Fingertips- Stevie Wonder
You have heard this song in so many of your favorites. Maybe it was in a movie, or perhaps a commercial, or maybe even an extremely long elevator ride. Trust me, you have heard this song before believing it or not but may have not been able to put a name to the beat. This magical wonder of music was one of Stevie Wonders’s hidden gems.
If you don’t know how talented this man truly is, at the age of twelve, he was able to play the harmonica, piano, organ, bongo as well as drums. This song is simply magnificent and certainly showcases Stevies amazing gifts.
12. On the Road Again- Willie Nelson
This wonderful song is such a classic and just immediately puts a smile on your face anytime that you hear it. This song should be included on your next road trip because of its light-hearted and upbeat nature it truly puts everyone in a great mood. The lyrics are self-explanatory yet so intensely electrifying.
“On the road again, Goin places that I’ve never been”. For those who enjoy road trips, you can identify with this statement. There is something so enjoyable about being with your friends and your loved ones on the road.
Being able to pack a bag and be spontaneous and sometimes even going on the road without any destination in mind can make the best of memories with those who you love. Also snacks you can’t forget about the snacks.
13. Blues Traveler-Carolina Blues
This song is a quality song with a quality harmonica solo in the middle of it. This song just gives you some good rocking out feelings. Although this song does not have much to decode, it still packs a powerful tune for all to enjoy!
14. You Don’t Know How it Feels- Tom Petty
This is yet another song that we have all heard many many times, however, we have not been able to put a name to the tune. I am here to enlighten you, my friends. The song “You Don’t know how it feels” by Tom Petty is such a classic that has been remixed many times and played all across the land.
Even though this song has a light-hearted beat to it, the meaning behind the lyrics is dark and you can sense the artist was truly going through an intense time in his life. “I’m too alone to be proud”. That line alone can bring out many emotions in someone who is currently battling through loneliness.
15. My Babe – Little Walter
This blues song is such a classic. Many have used this song in many different projects such as movies, television shows, commercials, and things of that nature. The lyrics are so simple yet so powerful. “My baby don’t stand no cheating, my baby”. In this song, the artist is just showcasing how good of a woman he has.
He repeatedly says that his partner doesn’t stand “cheating” or “foolin” which is simple slang for committing the act of infidelity. The artist goes on to say how his partner is so infatuated with him in a sense because all she does is “Kiss and Hug” him. This song is riddled with a harmonious harmonica throughout the entirety of the song.
Expert Tip: This would be a great addition to your playlist if you are just looking for an upbeat bluesy type of song that has the harmonica continuously playing.
There have been so many reasons that the harmonica has been underrated as an instrument. Most people either find it too difficult of an instrument to learn or perhaps they were unaware of how to incorporate it into day-to-day music.
In this article, we have gone over the top 15 best harmonica songs that have such a wide range of versatility. However, many of these songs did have one common theme which was they all seemed to be going somewhere. Either by a train or a road trip or just escaping their everyday life.
These artists and these specific songs all had some form of a path to follow. I hope that with this article you were able to identify some songs that you would enjoy adding to your playlist due to the unique sound of the harmonica. The harmonica isn’t as intimidating as you would think.
Comment down below any other favorite songs of yours that have a booming harmonica sound. We would love to hear!