“Green Onions”, Booker T. & the M.G.’s


There are few, if any, songs cooler than “Green Onions.”  No matter who you are or what you’re doing, it will make you feel like a bad motherfucker.  It’s a perfect driving song, a perfect soundtrack for a party, and let’s not forget that it also is perfect for selling Depends 

Booker T. & the M.G.’s were some cool cats themselves.  One of the greatest Stax bands of all time, they were also one of the first integrated bands—quite a feat for early 1960s America.  This was not a political move, nor was it an attempt to create a particular sound by bringing black and white musical styles together.  “It was just the people involved…it was a natural form of musical expression,” said Jim Stewart, a white man who founded Stax with his sister Estelle Axton.  “It just happened.”  The band also did not approach life or music with cultural change in mind.  Booker says that he and his bandmates played in white and black clubs, ate in white and black restaurants, and stayed in white and black hotels.  “We just looked away from the fact that it had never been done before,” he recalls, “and we just did it.”[1]

Booker T

As I listened to “Green Onions” over the past few days it suddenly occurred to me how much Ray Manzarek must have been influenced by the sound of this band.  I’m always excited when I can hear the influence of one artist one another.  He was deep into jazz and blues before getting into rock and roll, so it makes sense that the music he played came out sounding like it did.  

I’m not sure why “Green Onions” has not ranked higher on lists of the greatest songs of all time.  Rolling Stone, which really should know better, put it at 183, right after Outkast’s “Hey Ya!”  This is a fucking travesty!


The only way to listen to this song is repeatedly.  It will change you forever.  I mean it.

[1] Peter Guralnick, Sweet Soul Music: Rhythm and Blues and the Southern Dream of Freedom (New York: Little, Brown and Company, 1999), 97, 112.

6 thoughts on ““Green Onions”, Booker T. & the M.G.’s

  1. Classic songs, great writing. I can definitely feel its influence in the Doors’ songs now that you mention it.


  2. Pingback: Sunday Roundup: 5 Great Posts, Part 1 | Tangled Up In Music

  3. I know exactly where I was the first time I heard Green Onions, in the parking lot of Gerlands food market, waiting for my mother. Same place I heard Light My Fire for the first time a few years later. Only then I could drive myself. Green Onions is one of those pieces of music that every time you hear it, it’s always the first time. Thanks, Ovidiu.


  4. I really love the cultural approach of Booker T. & the MGs: people for the sake of people, color didn’t matter. As a biracial kid that’s an idea that’s always been important to me and seeing it’s connections to my favorite thing in all of time and space, music, makes this post that much better. Green Onions is 100% an ultra-badass song and, like you said, definitely deserves more recognition.


  5. If I’m not mistaken
    Donald duck Dunn was one of the musicians
    Who was one of the great back ups in his time
    He play for everyone
    I saw him with Neil Young
    Thank you for your follow
    See you on the other side of creativity


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