Hootie & the Blowfish are undefinable. Some would call them college rock, others would call them alt-whatever. Adult contemporary has even been thrown around, but the quartet – consisting of Darius Rucker, Mark Bryan, Dean Felber, and Jim Sonefeld – can be defined simply as Hootie & the Blowfish.
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They have spent decades mastering middle-of-the-road, creating an inoffensive blend of blues-alt-soft-roots-heartland-country rock with a touch of mainstream pop and jam band-leaning sensibilities.
Their songs have the ability to make you feel or the ability to fill the void. They’ve soundtracked good times, hard times, and just … times. Need a good cry? Hootie. Need a smile? Hootie. Need to fold laundry? Hootie. Their music can offer everything and nothing at times when you need either the most.
Here are 10 essential Hootie & the Blowfish songs, perfect for whatever you need them to be.
10. “Get Out of My Mind”
The underrated “Get Out of My Mind” plays like one hard pill to swallow as the song hits all the break-up bases. The biting, punchy 2005 hit chronicles heartache, rehashes old feelings, and toys with emotions in a relatable medley of mid-range grooves and hey get out of my minds.
9. “Old Man & Me”
The 1996 hit “Old Man & Me” graced Hootie’s second album, Fairweather Johnson, however, an early version of the song first appeared on the band’s 1993 EP, Kootchypop. The origin of the song is detailed in the liner notes of that release.
“I was walking on Santee Street in Columbia leaving Monterrey Jack’s and an older man came up to me,” the notes read. “He asked for some change and me being in a bad mood (not me) I gave him some smart ass ‘BUM’ remark. I went for a block on my way to the Elbow Room and I felt like the biggest pompous asshole. So I woke up the next morning and wrote this fictitious conversation about his life because you never know what has happened to these unfortunate people.”
8. “Not Tonight”
She can dress up, she can get down / Cool blue jeans or an evening gown / My baby don’t care, my baby don’t care / No, not tonight, no, not tonight, plays the infectious chorus of “Not Tonight.”
From the band’s 2019 album, Imperfect Circle, their first release in 14 years, “Not Tonight” shows off what the Blowfish do best – upbeat, cheerful, and down-right fun tunes to hold a solo cup and sway to.
7. “I Will Wait”
“I Will Wait” topped the Adult Contemporary charts upon its release in 1998. Another Hootie hit that goes straight to the feels, the song rocks heavy to lyrics that feel even heavier.
I’ll be there waiting for you / In the morning when times have changed / I’ll be there through the lies and all / Standing like your soldiers / You hold your secrets / Through the days when I need to be alone / I will wait for you / Through the rise and fall, the chorus plays out in both hope and desperation.
Frontman Darius Rucker once told Billboard that “I Will Wait” was about his best friend’s parents. The father was in the military while the mother spent her time waiting for him to come home.
Time why you punish me, ask Rucker’s distinct vocals, echoing against the sparse acoustics and kick off the iconic “Time.” From the band’s 1994 debut album, Cracked Rear View, “Time” topped charts around the world.
Quintessential Hootie, “Time” is the perfect example of the bright jangle pop, dirty alt-rock mix the early band became known for.
5. “Hey, Hey What Can I Do”
Most bands have a cover or two in their back pockets and Hootie is no exception. They know the art of the cover song and have the ability to make the classics their own.
The band took Led Zeppelin’s finest, “Hey, Hey What Can I Do,” and put a stripped-back spin on it that only Hootie could.
4. “I Go Blind”
Every time I look at you, I go blind, plays the Hootie hit “I Go Blind.”
Another cover, Hootie & the Blowfish popularized the song by Canadian alt-rock group, 54-40. With the same tip-toeing beat and musical inflections, the band didn’t do anything particularly different to the song. Rucker’s smooth and cheerful, yet seasoned voice just carried the song perfectly throughout and straight to No. 2 on the Adult Top 40 charts.
3. “Let Her Cry”
Inspiration for “Let Her Cry” reportedly struck Rucker after he heard The Black Crowes’ song, “She Talks to Angels,” for the first time. He said he went home and wrote “Let Her Cry” in “one stream of consciousness.”
Appearing on the band’s debut, the song is undoubtably Hootie. Lyrics are heavy with emotion and evoke so many feelings at once. Rucker’s voice shines and everything else just seems to fall into place.
2. “Hold My Hand”
Released as the band’s debut single in 1994, “Hold My Hand” introduced Hootie to the world and to the Billboard Hot 100’s Top 10.
The good vibes classic kicks off with a thick bass line and goose-bump inducing drums as Rucker’s voice explodes with the chorus’ Hold my hand / Want you to hold my hand.
1. “Only Wanna Be With You”
Gracing unconsenting ears in grocery stores, in malls, on public transit to this day, everyone knows the 1995 classic “Only Wanna Be With You.” If you don’t, turn on a rock radio station and wait 20 minutes.
“Only Wanna Be With You” is signature Hootie. A sweet, nonsensical, feel-good bop, it is impossible not the bob along to the upbeat, jangling tune.
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