Ben Harper is a three-time Grammy award winner who has graced the music scene with twelve studio albums. His songs vary in genre, including soul, folk, reggae, and rock. His fans also know him for playing the guitar, endearing vocals, live performances, and activism. According to Classic Rock History, Harper is also a seven-time nominee. The Californian-born singer/songwriter has gained a massive following thanks to his numerous musical genres. Moreover, his song, “No Mercy in This Land,” which he performed alongside Charlie Musselwhite at the 40th Blues Music Awards ceremony, was declared Song of the Year. Below are his ten best songs of all time.
10. “Jah Work” (The Will to Live-1997)
“Jah Work” is Ben Harper’s tribute song to Lewis Marnell. The latter was a professional skater and an all-around good person based on Ben Harper’s words. At his death, Marnell’s family had been undergoing financial constraints. So, Harper intervened by collaborating with the Innocent Criminals to record this song as a tribute to the fallen hero. He played Lewis’ guitar to celebrate his life and raise money for his family.
9. “Steal My Kisses” (Burn to Shine-1999)
Another fantastic track Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals released is “Steal My Kisses.” Rahzel formed the beatboxing song, helping it peak at 11 on the US Billboard Bubbling Under Hot 100. New Zealand’s RIANZ Singles chart ranked it at number two for four consecutive weeks. Its video was directed by the singer’s producer and manager, Jean-Pierre Plunier. It shows Harper driving to the beach to join his bandmates, who seem surrounded by women in bikinis.
8. “Amen Omen” (Diamonds on the Side-2003)
“Amen Omen” is a song paying tribute to a loved one who passed away. Some critics also say it could be about losing a close friend who’s been there for you through the breakups and deaths. Either way, Harper’s vocal ability comes through on this track. I find this song interesting to listen to when I close my eyes to the end. That way, I can feel Harper’s work of art and its emotional buildup. Additionally, the inclusion of the piano and cello accentuates the song’s mood, which is about grief.
7. “Waiting on An Angel” (Welcome to the Cruel World-1994)
“Waiting on An Angel” is another fantastic track by Ben Harper portraying grief. Harper opens the song by declaring that he’s waiting on an angel to take him home. He hopes the angel will arrive soon as he doesn’t want to go through the process of being in a cruel world. It seems the singer was going through rough patches in life and wants things to get better.
6. “She’s Only Happy in The Sun” (Diamonds on the Inside- 2003)
“She’s Only Happy in The Sun” is a song written by Ben Harper and Dean Butterworth. The singer uses it to express his heartache after the girl he loved left him. The girl seems happy in her new relationship, making Harper jealous. Unless you’ve never experienced how it feels for someone you cherish to leave you, you’ll never understand the mood behind Harper’s song.
5. “Another Lonely Day” (Fight for Your Mind-1995)
Loneliness and emptiness go hand in hand, and that’s what Ben Harper’s “Another Lonely Day” describes. When in such a position, you feel lost. Deciding whether you feel love or hate for a loved one makes it even more frustrating. We assume Harper wanted his fans to know that celebrities are also humans. That means they also undergo feelings of emptiness. However, what matters is how you work towards making yourself happy instead of drowning in self-pity.
4. “Like a King” (Welcome to the Cruel World- 1994)
“Like a King” is the eighth track on Harper’s debut album, released in 1994. It was the first album that the singer released before meeting and working with the band, The Innocent Criminals. Initially, their collaboration remained anonymous until they released their Burn to Shine album. Unfortunately, the Welcome to the Cruel World album never made it to the US charts. However, it peaked at 94 on the Australian Albums Chart and 11 on the French Albums chart.
3. “Forever” (Welcome to the Cruel World- 1994)
“Forever always seems to be around when it begins/ but forever never seems to be around when it ends.” These are the best lyrics of the song “Forever.” Music analysts believe it is proverbial to love. However, the type of love they’re arguing about seems unclear. I love that he acknowledges that forever is an abstract idea that no one can grasp. In reality, forever is a term that no one can accurately describe, so move along with the lyrics.
2. “Morning Yearning” (Both Sides of the Gun- 2006)
Ever woken up depressed feeling about how standard your life is? You will relate to Ben Harper’s “Morning Yearning.” It describes wanting to be something better or someone after waking up in the morning. Dawn represents hope and optimism, but that’s not how everyone sees it. Overall, it’s a fantastic song that instills hope in people battling various life circumstances.
1. “No Mercy in This Land” feat. Charlie Musselwhite (No Mercy in This Land-2018)
Of all the songs Ben Harper has released over the years, “No Mercy in This Land” is the most sensational. He sang alongside Charlie Musselwhite, an American electric blues harmonica player, and bandleader. It featured on an album with a similar title, helping it peak at six on the US Folk Albums (Billboard), 19 on the US Top Rock Albums (Billboard), and six on the French Albums (SNEP). According to Wikipedia, it was declared the Song of the Year at the 40th Blues Music Awards.
Declaring Ben Harper as your regular musician would be an understatement. He’s a brilliant artist known for mixing multiple music genres into an original sound that he owns. These ten songs deeply support these sentiments. Listen to all of them to come up with your verdict.