The Band Songs Ranked

The Band was a roots-rock group consisting of four Canadians and one American: Rick Danko (bass guitar, vocals, fiddle), Garth Hudson (keyboards, accordion, saxophone), Richard Manuel (keyboards, drums, vocals), Robbie Robertson (guitar, vocals), and Levon Helm (drums, vocals, mandolin, guitar). Their influence on several generations of musicians has been substantial: Roger Waters called their debut album, Music from Big Pink, the second “most influential record in the history of rock and roll,” and music journalist Al Aronowitz called its “country soul….a sound never heard before. The original configuration of The Band ended its touring career in 1976 with an elaborate performance at Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco, California, that featured numerous musical celebrities of the era. This performance was filmed for Martin Scorsese’s 1978 documentary The Last Waltz. Although the members of the group intended to continue working on studio projects, they drifted apart after the release of Islands in March 1977. The group was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 1989 and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994. In 2004 Rolling Stone ranked them No. 50 on its list of the 100 greatest artists of all time,  and in 2008 they received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2004, “The Weight” was ranked 41st on Rolling Stone‘s list of the 500 greatest songs of all time. Here are all The Band songs ranked.

Don’t miss out on the famous The Band albums below! Click to experience classic songs at it’s finest.

15. Strawberry Wine (Stage Fright, 1970)

““Strawberry Wine” is a brilliant creation. Levon Helm provides the vocal and Garth Hudson drives the song along with his keyboards. It is lyrically a song about a drunk who wants to be left alone, yet the song comes across as a joyous romp. It was part of Robbie Robertson’s genius that he could write songs for the other members of the group on which they could shine.”

14. Sleeping (Stage Fright, 1970)

“Sleeping” was co-written by Manuel. The song is about loneliness and staying out of the limelight but retains a subtle romantic underpinning. Whether this is a story about his life is unknown but it fits in many ways.”

13. Rag Mama Rag (The Band, 1970)

“One of the more popular off of The Band’s self titled album, “Rag Mama Rag” is a catchy little tune, though I wouldn’t say it is one of The Band’s better songs. Still, a merely ‘good’ song by The Band is better then most from loads of other bands.”

12. Whispering Pines (The Band, 1970)

“Whispering Pines” fully displays the democratic nature of a group that was actually worthy of being known simply as “The Band.” Each member’s contributions stand out, from Garth Hudson’s Lowery organ washes, Rick Danko and Levon Helm’s understated backing, Robertson’s vivid lyrics, and Manuel’s heartbrokenly vulnerable vocal performance. I’m content in picking it to be the ambassador for one of the greatest albums of all-time.”

See more: The Band Albums Ranked

11. The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down (The Band, 1970)

“Dixie” wonderfully evokes in words and music the fate of an ordinary working man caught up on the wrong side of the American Civil War. Just brilliant story-telling, ironically written by a Canadian, Robbie Robertson. Joan Baez had the sizeable U.K. hit with it but the original is best and doesn’t involve any awkwardness in the autobiographical narration being sung by a woman.”

10. Stage Fright (Stage Fright, 1970)

“The title track with its urgent keyboard intro and anxious lyric, the latter convincingly sung by Rick Danko, especially when he hits that tremulous “Ooh” before the instrumental break, well conveys that failing of nerve which befalls musicians and other professions at key moments”

9. The Shape I’m In (Stage Fright, 1970)

“The Shape I’m In” features another Manuel lead vocal but this time he is in rock mode, which is a place he would not visit enough during his career with The Band.”

8. When I Paint My Masterpiece (Cahoots, 1971)

“One of the highlights from the “Cahoots” album (even if the picture sleeve depicted is from two albums before) and one of the better songs Dylan wrote during his fallow period at the start of the 70’s. The lyric is a hoot, a travelogue around Europe with forced rhymes (“Colosseum” and “see ‘em”, “gondola” and “Coca-Cola” ) and weird and wonderful images planted in your head (“young girls pullin’ muscles”, “big police”). The tune and arrangement have that certain “je ne sais pas” too, especially down to the accordion which adds just the right pinch of garlic to proceedings.”

7. The Great Pretender (Moondog Matinee, 1973)

“Nice version of the lovely old Platters classic by the Band, well sung by Richard Manuel while Garth Hudson’s wraparound organ dominates the backing track.”

6. Right as Rain (Islands, 1977)

“This track may sound smooth and dare I say it, even M.O.R. by the Band’s high standards, but it’s undeniably pretty and gets a nice lead vocal from Richard Manuel.”

See more: The Gap Band Albums Ranked

5. The Rumor (Stage Fright, 1970)

 “The Rumor,” which closes out the album, features a soulful lead vocal by him. It is a wistful and poignant song which is ultimately about hope.”

4. Out of the Blue (The Last Waltz, 2002)

““Out Of The Blue” features a better-late-than-never lead vocal by the group’s main songwriter Robbie Robertson (understandably so when you consider the singing talent amongst his band-mates) over a beautiful, spare melody”

3. Up on Cripple Creek (The Band, 1969)

“Up on Cripple Creek” seems to conjure up the spirit of a more innocent time on the American frontier. This album along with a couple of Byrds releases helped reverse the trend in American music towards psychedelia and experimentation and took things ‘back to their roots’. The folksy sound of the early 1970’s was often just a pale imitation of what The Band had already achieved in the closing years of the 60’s.”

2. Third Man Theme (Moondog Matinee, 1973)

“Here’s a goofy, out-of-left-field cover by the Band of Anton Karas’s famous theme tune to Carol Reed’s great “The Third Man” film. It is what it is, as they say, quirky and odd to the extent that you wonder why they recorded it, but then I remembered the Beatles recorded it during the “Let It Be” sessions too, and think that groups probably used it as a warm-up piece.”

1. The Weight (Music from Big Pink, 1968)

“The Band’s most famous song has to be “The Weight”, a song that is seemingly so simple but tells one of the greatest stories set to a song. I have always found the simple acoustic guitar playing and piano to be greater then they sound, it makes it sound more laid back, which I enjoy.”