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Top 54 Widespread Panic Songs of All Time

Although widespread panic isn’t a good thing, the band Widespread Panic surely is. This group is one of the legendary American jam bands in the vein of the Grateful Dead and Phish. They might not be as well known, but as we’ll see, they’ve also been making music for decades. And, Widespread Panic’s song catalog is about as long as your arm.

With so many songs to choose from, and the band’s habit of creating a set list just the day before each concert, you never know what you’re going to get with this band. So what are the top 54 Widespread Panic songs out there? It’s certainly not going to be easy to choose, but let’s see if we can’t just nail down a list of their most fun tracks to date.

Who is Widespread Panic?

Widespread Panic Songs of All Time This band got started playing together in 1981 in Georgia with just two members, guitarist Michael Houser and singer/guitarist John Bell. Houser used to have panic attacks, which is where the name comes from. But, the name cleverly attracts interest no matter where they’re announced.

In the mid-80s…

Bassist Dave Schools, drummer Todd Nance, and percussionist Sunny Ortiz joined up to form the core membership of Widespread Panic. They added a keyboardist, JoJo Hermann, in 1992 to flesh out their sound. This group wrote and toured together until 2002, when Houser passed away due to cancer.

He was replaced by George McConnell for three years, then by Jimmy Herring until the present day. Nance also left the band in 2014 and then passed away in 2020. He has been replaced by Duane Trucks.

Despite line-up changes, the band continues on. They’ve released 12 studio albums to date and ten live albums as well. They’ve released tons of material but also always continue to change and reshape their songs. So, every Widespread Panic performance is a whole new experience.

Top 54 Widespread Panic Songs of All Time

1
Chilly Water (1988)

The first track on our top 10 goes back to the very beginnings of the band. “Chilly Water” was written by Houser and Bell way back when they were just a 2-piece. But, in 1987, the band signed a recording contract with the small Atlanta label Landslide Records.

In 1988, they released their first studio album, Space Wrangler. This record was a landmark in Widespread Panic’s career and helped them to solidify a dedicated following and a place in music history.

“Chilly Water” is the lead track on the album…

And it kicks it off perfectly. The song has a great groove with a slight Latin flavor, thanks to the percussion help from Sunny Ortiz. The bass walks and wanders all over the place. And the guitars are beautiful and psychedelic.

Keyboard chords underpin the tune leaving the guitars to fly free. And Bell’s vocals are clear and Classic Rock-inspired. It’s just an all-around fun and funky track, The first of many to come.

2
Driving Song (1988)

Another great track from 1988’s Space Wrangler is “Driving Song.” This is one of the first Widespread Panic songs that incorporated different rhythms and melodies, essentially a mash-up in a single track. You have the intro part with lovely, light guitar noodling. Great percussion and fiddle parts come in with the first verse and round up the first part of the song.

But, things suddenly change course…

The song switches to a swinging Blues beat that Houser takes a nice guitar solo over the top of. The whole band is tight on the changes here, and it sounds great. Then they switch back to the mystical-sounding first part to jam it out. And repeat. This song lets your mind wander while keeping you steadily entertained – perfect for driving.

3
Porch Song (1988)

Finding it a bit ironic that a band with such a great name would have so much trouble naming their songs? “Porch Song” is another really old song that Bell and Houser wrote as a duet. They probably called it by this name for so many years that the name just stuck. But this track that was put out on Space Wrangler really does capture the feeling of sitting on the porch so perfectly.

In the guitar arpeggios, walking bass, and light percussion, you feel the sunshine, hear the birds chirping, and smell the grass growing. The best part of this song is the harmony sung by these two. It comes across as light and just so soothing.

The main melody goes on for a delightful almost three minutes. Then the drums come in, and it turns into one of the best jams ever. Guitars solo, organs shimmer, the bass grooves, and the drums get you up on your feet and dancing in the yard.

4
Space Wrangler (1988)

If we’re talking Space Wrangler, we simply can’t forget the title track for this album. This is one of the top 10 Widespread Panic songs, and you’ll find that’s a habit for their albums’ title tracks in general.

“Space Wrangler” is another multi-part song that combines all sorts of flavors. You have a groovy jam Rock sound, some Psychedelic Rock, Southern Rock, and even a bit of a Country sound here.

The track starts with an almost Honky-Tonk part that suggests a wrangler for sure. But this is blended with a funky groove that the band jams on for ages. And, although it doesn’t seem like it would, this combination just somehow works. Bell also sings brilliantly, recalling Dave Matthews’s power in places and Jerry Garcia in others.

5
Pickin’ Up the Pieces (1993)

In 1991, Widespread Panic moved to a bigger label, Capricorn Records, supported by Columbia. And their second album with that label, 1993’s Everyday, brought in keyboardist Jojo Herman to build out the band’s sound. The best song on this record and one of the greatest Widespread Panic songs overall is “Pickin’ Up the Pieces.”

This song is light and chilled out throughout its whole length. It has this mid-tempo, flowing groove that goes on and on like a river. But, the texture of the song changes as different band members add their little flourishes.

Hermann adds some cool organ bits. Schools’ bass wanders as usual. Bell and Houser play off each other. And guest musician Matt Mundy plays lead on the mandolin, making this song sound like no other.

6
Ain’t Life Grand (1994)

The very next year, Widespread Panic was on a roll and wanted to get back into the studio and record another album. Ironically, though, they started pre-recording their practice sessions at a home studio. They liked the way they sounded so much, they never even bothered re-doing them. So, the whole album Ain’t Life Grand was sort of recorded by accident.

But that’s not so strange for this incredible live band…

The title track, “Ain’t Life Grand,” is a real masterwork, a perfect encapsulation of Widespread Panic’s sound. This song has a faster, slightly swinging beat that gives it a sort of Blues-Country-Rock feel. The guitars go on long wandering solos here, and Hermann plays a really rocking piano. The lyrics are basic and light. They’re just happy and full of appreciation for life, as the title says.

7
Blue Indian (1999)

For the next track on this list of Widespread Panic’s Top 10 songs, we have to skip ahead to the band’s sixth studio album, Til the Medicine Takes. And the song that impresses the most from this album is “Blue Indian.” It’s not the title track, but the title comes from the lyrics of this song.

This is a jazzy, bluesy, swinging song that sounds very old-timey and cool. It might remind you of Dr. John, especially with Hermann’s great piano licks and the way Bell sings when he gets going. This song is light and oh-so-relaxing, with some beautiful backing vocals from Anne Richmond Boston and pedal steel from John Keane, the producers in whose home studio the band recorded it.

8
Don’t Tell the Band (2001)

Don’t Tell the Band was the next studio album by Widespread Panic. And its title track is also one of the best songs by Widespread Panic. This was also the last album recorded with Houser on guitar. He would pass away the next year.

“Don’t Tell the Band” has more of a Classic Rock influence in parts. This is the band firing on all cylinders. They’re tight and sound great here, with guitars, bass, drums, and keys all perfectly in time.

The lyrics are kind of funny. This is a song about disasters, and people overheard saying don’t tell the band and to let them just play on. That’s ironic for a band that will jam on and on forever if nobody stops them.

9
Up All Night (2008)

After Houser passed away, he was temporarily replaced, and then, things changed again. Guitarist Jimmy Herring joined in 2006, and the first album he played on was 2008’s Free Somehow. And, while he plays their older songs true to Houser’s sound, you can also hear his Jazz-inspired sound in the newer tracks.

“Up All Night” is a Blues and Big Band-inspired track. Widespread Panic recruited backup singers on this track and a host of horns to add some punch to it. Combined with some excellent piano work by Hermann, this song is big and full and just very beautiful.

10
Street Dogs For Breakfast (2015)

Our last song comes from Widespread Panic’s latest albumStreet Dogs. This album also represented a personnel change as drummer Nance had left the band and was replaced by Duane Trucks, who is now a permanent member. The last track on this album, and pretty much the title track, “Street Dogs for Breakfast,” is one of the band’s best.

This song has a real tongue-in-cheek sense to it. It’s about bottoming out, as you can see from the pretty unpalatable meal in the title. This is a fun Blues Rock track that lets the various members do their thing with little flourishes and solos. Hermann’s piano drives things along while backing up Bell’s lead vocals in a classic 12-bar Blues style.

11
Tall Boy

12
Bowlegged Woman

13
Fishwater

14
Stop-Go

15
Walkin’ (For Your Love)

16
Diner

17
Blackout Blues

18
Henry Parsons Died

19
Rebirtha

20
Pigeons

21
Greta

22
Hatfield

23
Surprise Valley

24
Heroes

25
You Got Yours

26
Climb to Safety

27
Can’t Get High

28
Arleen

29
Love Tractor

30
Red Hot Mama

31
Let’s Get Down to Business

32
Mercy

33
North

34
Don’t Be Denied

35
All Time Low

36
Solid Rock

37
One Arm Steve

38
Action Man

39
Junior

40
Pilgrims

41
Time Zones

42
Coconut

43
Conrad

44
Little Lilly

45
Aunt Avis

46
Flicker

47
Party at Your Mama’s House

48
Travelin’ Light

49
Airplane

50
Walkin’ Shoes

51
Dirty Business

52
None of Us Are Free

53
Happy

54
Blight

Need More Rock Music in Your Life?

If so, check out our thoughts on the Best Classic Rock Songs, the Best 70s Rock Songs, the Best 80s Rock Songs, the Best 90s Rock Songs, the Best 90s Rock Bands, the Best 70s Rock Bands, and the Best 80s Rock Bands for more fantastic Rock song selections.

The Top 10 Widespread Panic Songs of All Time – Final Thoughts

So, there’s my list of the best Widespread Panic songs to date. It’s probably not the same as yours, and that’s OK. The truth is, this band has produced a ton of songs across lots of styles. They also didn’t have any huge hits that stand out. So, instead, we have to look at the songs that define their sound and brilliant songwriting.

And, unlike most other bands that have a peak period that all their best songs come from, Widespread Panic continues to ripen. Their songs continue to be interesting and well-crafted as they continue to grow as musicians. So, sit back and enjoy what’s coming next.

Until next time, happy listening.

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