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My Favorite Live Songs

Updated on July 10, 2013

Every chance I get, I will pay to see my favorite rock acts when they come to my home town, or even remotely close to my home town. I love live music, and every time I hear a live recording, it makes me feel so good inside. The following is a list some of my favorite live performances, whether they be live at concerts, or even just live on television shows. Even though I have only actually seen a couple of these acts live in my lifetime (Styx and Elton John), I still love listening to some good live music at home.

**Keep in mind that I wasn't always able to find the exact corresponding videos on YouTube to match the live versions I am talking about, but you get the idea.**

16. "Tiny Dancer" by Dave Grohl

So I know this isn't his original song (if you read my previous Hub on cover songs, you know I absolutely adore covers), but I couldn't help but include this certain appearance on the short-lived Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn. I am a huge fan of Dave Grohl and an even bigger fan of "Tiny Dancer" so when I saw his live performance on Kilborn, I was immediately in love. Even though he doesn't sing the song in its entirety, he pays respects to my favorite director, Cameron Crowe, and the movie in which this song is featured. Dave Grohl can do no wrong in my book. He is a great musician and an equally great human being in general.

15. "Albert Flasher" by The Guess Who

The Guess Who are probably most famous for the song "American Woman". And on their album Live at The Paramount (1972), it is featured in great lengths. But my favorite on this live album is "Albert Flasher". I first heard the song on the soundtrack to Almost Famous and I really enjoyed the piano. The song has a playful nature to it that instantly drew me in. I'm really not sure what this song is about, but I know Albert was a workshop owner.

14. "Miss America" by Styx

Styx has got to be one of my favorite bands to come out of the 70s and 80s. I have seen them live about 5 or 6 times, and every time, I love them more and more. Some of them are in their early sixties, and they still rock as hard now as they ever did! I love their live version of "Miss America" from 1984's Caught In The Act because of James "JY" Young's intro. He has such great stage presence, and he can always get the crowd going at concerts.

13. "One Way Out" by The Allman Brothers Band

I love hearing live songs on regular albums because of the sound of the audience. When you hear the first few notes of a song, and when the audience recognizes that song, everybody gets into it. Included on their 1972 album Eat A Peach, "One Way Out" is one such song that gets the audience really going, even with only the first few notes on the guitar. This song always reminds me of a scene from Almost Famous when William Miller is first showed on the tour bus with Stillwater. A very mellow song to ride to.

12. "America" by Simon & Garfunkel

Simon & Garfunkel are still one of the greatest folk acts from the last few decades, and even though they went their separate ways eventually, they still continue to make great music. My favorite live song of their would have to be a version they recorded for The Bridge School Concerts album in 2005. Put on by Neil Young and his wife, this live concert raised money for The Bridge School for children with physical disabilities. "America" is still one of my all-time favorite songs, so hearing a live version is just that much better. I own The Concert in Central Park album on vinyl, and I still love listening to it. Their harmonies are just flawless.

11. "Turn the Page" by Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band

When I hear this song on the radio, it sometimes gives me chills. It is such a great live recording, that I forget from time to time that it is, in fact, live. Bob Seger is an amazing performer, and when he sings, he fills his songs with passion. "Turn the Page" comes from Live Bullet (1973), and even though it has been covered by the likes of Metallica, the original live recording is still my absolute favorite. The sound of that saxophone is simply haunting.

10. "I Want You To Want Me" by Cheap Trick

I just can't get enough of listening to the live version of "I Want You To Want Me". Recorded at Budokan in 1979, this version always puts me in a good mood. The audience participates in the greatest way possible by echoing the lyrics and cheering as loud as they can. Cheap Trick has always had a reputation for putting on amazing live shows, and this recording is no exception. If they ever came close to my home town, I would not hesitate to see them at all! Such a great band of guys.

9. "Candle In The Wind" by Elton John

Elton John is one of my favorite singer/songwriters of all time. I saw a show of his a few years back and I was amazed at his stamina. We were graced with over three hours of non-stop music, and I left feeling so happy to hear my favorite song performed live. I always knew that "Candle In The Wind" was written for Marilyn Monroe, but I didn't really care for the song until I heard the live version they started playing on the radio in the late 80s. I am simply in love with Elton's piano playing, and this live version is more of a piano "unplugged" version, if you will. I would see his show again in a heartbeat!

8. "Carolina On My Mind" by James Taylor

In 2009, a friend of mine and I went to see Funny People in the theatre. Although this film didn't get very good reviews, I still enjoyed it very much. It was a tragic love story that might not have ended the way we wanted it to, but it was accompanied by an amazing soundtrack. When Seth Rogan's character is going with Adam Sandler's character to a party for MySpace, we hear a little tune play as they board the plane. "Carolina On My Mind" begins softly with light applause, and then we actually see James Taylor himself performing in front of all the MySpace nerds. This live version was included on the soundtrack, and it has since become one of my favorite versions of this song; (I just can't get enough of hearing James Taylor sing my name: "Karen, she's a silver sun...").

7. "Hotel California" by The Eagles

When Hell Freezes Over was released in 1994, it made a ton of fans of The Eagles very happy. This live album is one of the greatest, in my opinion, because no song on it is a letdown. The first time I heard this live version of "Hotel California" I was blown away by the intro. It is so nice to see that some musicians, while still remaining true to their original music, can also reinvent themselves in a subtle way. I thoroughly enjoy the live version because it is fresh yet timeless.

6. "Brian Wilson" by Barenaked Ladies

I have been a huge fan of Barenaked Ladies ever since my brother introduced me to them when I was in middle school. They are most definitely a talented group of good Canadian boys, with original lyrics and engaging melodies. When I heard their live album, Rock Spectacle (1996), for the first time, it was the very first track that hooked me. The sound of the audience cheering and singing along to "... just to check out the late night record shop..." always puts a smile on my face. As an artist, this has to be the greatest feeling in the world: to have your entire audience, no matter how big or small, sing your songs along with you at live shows. I can't imagine what a rush that must be!

5. "Fourth Time Around" by Bob Dylan

There is no doubt in my mind that Bob Dylan is one of the greatest singer/songwriters in the history of popular music. Whether you love to love him, or love to hate him, his music endures over the decades. I am able to ignore the fact that his is not the very best singing voice because he is an amazing writer, performer, and all around rock star. His live version of "Fourth Time Around" is one of my favorite songs of all time. Recorded in 1966 at The Royal Albert Hall, this version was featured in the film Vanilla Sky (2001). Cameron Crowe has a way of choosing very specific music for certain scenes in his movies that match perfectly. I enjoy this stripped version more than the original recording because it helps me to understand the meaning of Dylan's lyrics and the passion he felt when writing them.

4. "The Load Out/Stay" by Jackson Browne

Nothing makes me angrier than the fact that I was born in the wrong decade. What I wouldn't give to be able to see acts like Jackson Browne live in the prime of his rock and roll days. While I have watched some live concerts of his on Netflix, it just doesn't add up to actually being there live to witness the passion and love for music he shared with his audience. In one particular song featured on Running On Empty (1977), Browne pays tribute to the behind the scenes aspect of rock and roll. His medley of "The Load Out/Stay" begins as a soft, piano melody, giving credit to all the hardships he and his roadies have to face while on tour. It then transitions into a cover of an oldie by Maurice Williams & The Zodiacs, begging the audience to "stay just a little bit longer" and enjoy an encore.

3. "Do You Feel Like We Do" by Peter Frampton

"Woke up this morning with a wine glass in my hand / whose wine / what wine / where the hell did I dine?" Frampton Comes Alive (1976) has to be one of the greatest live albums of all time. And "Do You Feel Like We Do" is just an amazing example of how live versions of songs can be just as good, and even better, than their studio recorded counterparts. Clocking in at almost 14 minutes long, it is definitely the longest song on this countdown. It is filled with solos from every instrument, from keyboards to guitars, and even features a solo from Frampton on his "talk box", an effect that distorts the singer's voice to the playing of his guitar. The audience is engaged from the beginning to the very end.

2. "Waiting For The Man" by David Bowie

I first heard this live song on a movie soundtrack. You've got it - Almost Famous. David Bowie is one of my favorite musicians because he has changed his act so many times over the decades. He has reinvented himself enough to shock audiences, but he always remains true to himself. When I finally found this live version on Live: Santa Monica '72 I was so happy because it just rocks! Lou Reed's original recording with The Velvet Underground doesn't even touch Bowie's live cut. I idolize this man, and I probably always will.

1. "Big Love" by Fleetwood Mac

Originally recorded for Tango In The Night (1987), "Big Love" was never a favorite of mine. But when I heard the live version on The Dance (1997), I was immediately impressed! I now own the concert on DVD after all those years of listening to my mom's copy of the recording on CD. Lindsey Buckingham is an amazing guitar player, and this live song is living proof. I still can't get over the fact that it is only one man playing the guitar and singing, all at the same time. This song is a stand-out performance compared to the rest of the show, and it is my favorite live song of all time. I can listen to this song, or watch this video, over and over again. Even my husband is impressed and can watch along with me. We are going to see Fleetwood Mac live at the Rose Garden in Portland, OR at the end of the month, and we are super excited! Buckingham better do this song!!


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