3. Wilson Pickett, "I'm in Love," 1967
After Sam Cooke's sudden death in December of 1964, the Valentinos took a break and Bobby became closer to Cooke's widow Barbara, whom the 21-year-old married only months later. Negative publicity ensued (radio DJs wouldn't play Womack's music) and he left the Valentinos, focusing on session guitar work. This beautifully wrenching song was his riposte to the critics, practically an on-your-knees testimony in the court of public opinion. Pickett's version is the most gripping, with Womack's glinting guitar like a cushiony, persuasive echo of the singer. But Aretha Franklin's 1974 virtuosoic, trance-like turn on the song earned the biggest hit, topping the R&B chart and going Number 19 pop.