Etta James was no one-note talent, by any means.
"At Last" may have been the ubiquitous hit, the go-to number for momentous occasions, commericals, movie soundtracks and wannabe pop stars on TV singing competitions.
But the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, who died today at the age of 73, had an arsenal full of slow-dance worthy tunes, some songs tailor-made for when you're in love and others that make perfect accompaniments for a good cry.
Here are five of them:
1. "All I Could Do Was Cry," 1960: Case in point: This James original, written especially for her by Chess Records' Billy Davis and Berry and Gwen Gordy, is like an arrow through an already-mangled heart. Just listen to the first two lovelorn words, "I heard," and instantly you're thinking, "Adele!" Not to mention Janis Joplin, Amy Winehouse, Beyoncé and countless others who counted James as a major inspiration.
2. "Tell Mama," 1968: Got a bounce in your step? Feeling fierce? Well, if you're not, you will after listening to this, James' highest-ranking single on the Billboard Hot 100 at No. 23. (If that sounds low, remember she rated much higher on the R&B chart.) This one goes out to all the guys who were dating the wrong girl...until they met you.
3. "I'd Rather Go Blind," 1968: One of the greatest sad songs of all time. Not only can she do nothing but cry if her man walks away, but this time she would rather lose the gift of sight than see him with someone else. Dramatic, yes, but the simply expressed sentiment speaks to everyone. Off of 1960's Tell Mama, the B-side wasn't a huge hit at first, compared to the title track, but it has since been covered by everyone from B.B. King to Rod Stewart, and it's one of three James songs that Beyoncé recorded for the Cadillac Records soundtrack.
4. "The Wallflower (Dance With Me Henry)," 1955: Along with "At Last," James' recording of this let's-get-up-and-swing jukebox standard is in the Grammy Hall of Fame. There's also a slightly more mellow version—you heard it in Sister Act as "Roll With Me Henry"—but this faster version is just major toe-tappin', double-entendre fun. Not to mention, it's proof that it's not all hell and heartbreak out there for a soulful chanteuse.
5. "Something's Got a Hold On Me," 1962: Did you ever get a feeling that you "never, never, never, never had before, no, no?" Well, you will now! The Top 40 hit, which peaked at No. 4 on the R&B chart 50 years ago helped Flo Rida get to No. 3 on the Billboard 100 just last year when he sampled James' gospel-inflected, "it must be love" hit on "Good Feeling."
May Etta James—fierce, soulful, sexy, full of heart and one-of-a-kind—rest in peace.
Share your favorite Etta James songs with us in the comments section!