The Most Important Curtis Mayfield Songs

The Most Important Curtis Mayfield Songs | I Love Classic Rock Videos

Curtis Mayfield performing Give Me Your Love live - RolIsToIn / Youtube

American singer-songwriter and instrumentalist Curtis Mayfield is considered one of the most influential figures behind soul music, but has dabbled with rhythm n’ blues in his career as well. Breaking out to the mainstream with his success in The Impressions, Mayfield went on to have a successful solo career that lasted for almost five decades. Known for his impeccable groove and feel, Mayfield won the crowds over with his silky smooth vocals, especially his falsetto. Whether it be whimsical imagery, or hardcore political commentary, here are some of Curtis Mayfield’s most essential tracks.

“Do Do Wap Is Strong In Here”

The track’s brimming energy only does so much to hid the grim realities of the lyrics. Blue funk is laced all over the song, with a strong supporting rhythm, accentuated by Mayfield’s guitar parts, he draws out the scene with his falsetto the harsh realities of jail, even witnessing a rape taking place. The track shows the lawless place striking depression into the heart of the character.

“Right On For The Darkness”

Fitting in with the recent events, especially the conclusion of the Vietnam War, Mayfield imagined himself as one of the battle-hardened veterans who came home from the violence-ridden events in ‘Nam. The track features a writhing, brooding progression that envelopes the bitterness of his lyricism, the “blindness” caused by the evils of men and its consequences.


One of the standards of soul and funk, “Superfly” graced the soundtrack of a film of the same name. Mayfield says he wrote the song to counter the seemingly “drug promotional” going on in the crime drama, with his funky arrangement that gained the acclaim of many a critic. The level of depth going on in the lyrics is driven by the groove brought by wah-wah effects and impressive guitar work makes the track a masterpiece in itself.

“Freddie’s Dead”

Another song on the Superfly film’s soundtrack, “Freddie’s Dead” is featured on the film as an instrumental arrangement only, though there is a full version for the track. Following the movie’s events, the track mourns the death of Fat Freddie, who was run over by a car. Featuring a melancholic progression and a driven bass line, the track ranked second on the RnB charts for 1972 with its unmistakable groove.

“Move On Up”

Taking influences from his gospel roots, Mayfield created the track with soul in mind. Initially a 9 minute jam on release, a shorter edit proved to be more successful with the masses, even charting at the 12th place on the UK singles chart in 1972. The track is most notable for using horns that accentuate the rich progression, and has been considered one of the quintessential soul tracks of all time.