Eddie called me out to comment on EW’s top 25 country albums you have to hear, even if you don’t like country music. Since I pretty much do whatever Eddie requests – he asks so nicely – I could do naught but respond, albeit reluctantly. I am not what I’d call a big country fan; I don’t dislike it, just don’t follow it much.
Once, though, I did. Back in the days when AM radio was king, there were many stations that operated pretty much from sunrise to sundown. Then there were these mega “clear channel” stations that one could hear from a great distance at night. From my home in Binghamton, NY, I could hear stations in New York City and Cleveland. I could also get WWVA, Wheeling, West Virginia, a country station.
Also, my grandfather brought home this album “50 Stars, 50 Hits” on “two long-playing albums”, as the pitchman said it.
Now to the list:
*means I Have It
*1. Johnny Cash At Folsom Prison, Johnny Cash
Maybe it’s because I heard it first, but I prefer San Quentin. Not that this is a bad album. I also liked the American Recordings John R. did later in his life. In fact, if you considered that best of American Recordings album that came in the posthumous box set, I might pick that.
*2. Home, Dixie Chicks
As I mentioned recently, bought this to protest the protest of the Dixie Chicks. Ironically, this album has one mighty patriotic tune in particular that was on the charts when the controversy developed. I like it, but it seems terribly high in the pantheon of all country music.
3. Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc., Dwight Yoakam
I like him when I see him on TV or when he appears on a compilation album I have, but have none of his albums.
*4. Van Lear Rose, Loretta Lynn
I’m quite fond of this Jack White-produced disc.
5. Red Headed Stranger, Willie Nelson
Have some Willie, not this.
6. Carnegie Hall Concert, Buck Owens and His Buckaroos
No Buck except on 50 Stars.
7. Modern Day Drifter, Dierks Bentley
Don’t know him. See he already has a greatest hits album.
8. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Miranda Lambert
I heard her name mentioned in a positive review on CBS Sunday Morning, I believe.
9. The Complete Reprise Sessions, Gram Parsons
The only Gram I have is on the expanded version of the Byrds’ Sweetheart of the Rodeo CD.
10. Time Well Wasted, Brad Paisley
Know the name. He’s playing around here soon.
11. Coat of Many Colors, Dolly Parton
Eddie will probably hate me, but I own no solo Dolly.
*12. Elite Hotel, Emmylou Harris
Own it on LP, haven’t played it in years. Prefer Blue Kentucky Girl from that era.
13. Georgia Hard, Robbie Fulks
*14. Trio, Dolly Parton/Linda Ronstadt/Emmylou Harris
Bought unheard based on all those great Emmylou harmonies on Linda’s albums, and Dolly’s harmony on Linda’s “I’ll Never Be Married”. Very fond of this album.
15. Gold, Hank Williams
For all the covers of Hank Williams songs I own and songs referring to Hank, from Johnny Cash to Neil Young that I have, unless I got one in the end days of my LP collecting, I just don’t have any collections.
16. Hag — The Best of Merle Haggard, Merle Haggard
I think that I didn’t get the parody that was “Okie from Muskogee” and dismissed him out of hand. Know better now, but haven’t rectified the void in my collection.
17. Come On Over, Shania Twain
I do remember some sultry video from this, which I did hear as country particularly. And that “Man, I’m a Woman” song’s from here, too. The album sold 20 bajillion copies. My feeling: meh.
*18. Guitar Town, Steve Earle
My first Steve Earle was a live album I didn’t much like. The second was I Feel Alright, which just love. Guitar Town is a really good album, but it was so hyped in my circle of friends, it couldn’t bear the weight.
19. These Days, Vince Gill
Own none Like to watch him on TV occasionally.
*20. Almost Blue, Elvis Costello
It was an acquired taste for me. Grew to like and respect it, rather than embrace it.
21. Here for the Party, Gretchen Wilson
I know who she is, but not this album.
22. The Definitive Collection, the Flying Burrito Brothers
Know them, have heard them on FM radio, but own none.
23. Revival, Gillian Welch
If there’s one artist on this list I’m mostly likely to purchase, it’s Gillian Welch. I’ve heard her music at other people’s houses.
24. Horse of a Different Color, Big & Rich
Know them only by reputation, not all good.
*25. Raising Sand, Robert Plant and Alison Krauss
My wife loves Alison Krauss, and we saw her in April 2003 at the Palace Theater in Albany. There are tracks of hers on albums I like but I haven’t loved a whole album since that greatest hits album she put out back c. 1994 when she was still brunette and more zaftig, until this one. But is it country?
I have eight out of 25.
What, no Patsy Cline? I would also found room for Lyle Lovett, Mary Chapin Carpenter and maybe Rosanne Cash.
Your turn, Eddie.