1. “I’m Looking Over a Four Leaf Clover,” Art Mooney, 1948
The first song I ever sang for my parents. I was four years old, sitting in the back seat of our ’49 Buick Roadmaster. They were in stunned silence, then they said, “He can sing!” That was the moment I knew.
2. “Hound Dog,” Elvis Presley, 1956
“Hound Dog” is the reason we all did it. It’s Elvis at his youngest and most explosive. When I was 10, I picked up my father’s bass ukulele, and this was the first thing I learned to play — this and “Don’t Be Cruel.”
3. “Running Scared,” Roy Orbison, 1962
Absolutely stunning to this day. Roy’s voice is one in a million. This is really his version of Ravel’s “Boléro.”
4. “It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding),” Bob Dylan, 1965
Dylan opened up limitless possibilities for lyrics in one fell swoop. Everything you want to know about him is right here — he’s absolutely lucid and direct, which was unusual for him back then. He taught me how to sell a song.
5. “Me and Bobby McGee,” Kris Kristofferson, 1970
This is the definitive narrative song that really got my songwriting going. I don’t think I would have written “Night Moves” without hearing it.
6. “Gimme Some Lovin’,” the Spencer Davis Group, 1967
When I heard this, I said, “This is the kind of music I want to write.” If you listen to my first single, “Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man,” there’s a B-3 organ — just like on “Gimme Some Lovin’.” And for 49 years now, I’ve never played a show without a Hammond B-3 organ.
7. “Didn’t You Know (You’d Have to Cry Sometime),” Gladys Knight and the Pips, 1969
Gladys was the best female singer on Motown, and this song has an unbelievable vocal. I love her.
8. “What’d I Say,” Ray Charles, 1959
After I heard this song, I had to have a Wurlitzer. A few years later, I wrote “Turn the Page” on that Wurlitzer! So it’s very important to me.
9. “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” the Rolling Stones, 1968
This is my favorite Stones song of all time. It’s pretty damn strong. It brought my guitar playing up, too – I simply had to be able to play that Keith Richards lick and sing it at the same time. I wouldn’t stop until I was able to do it.
10. “You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me,” the Miracles, 1963
I was singing this live even before the Beatles did it. The girls in the audience loved it.