Favorite Albums of All Time: 60-51

Having listened to every album on the Rolling Stone list of 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, I’m making my own list.  This list will be only 250 albums, although I had to make some tough cuts.  The list includes a mix of works of musical genius with the pure nostalgia of some albums I’ve loved throughout my life.  As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts about these albums and what your favorite albums are. I will continue the countdown every other Wednesday throughout 2022.

250-241 200-191 150-141 100-91
240-231 190-181 140-131 90-81
230-221 180-171 130-121 80-71
220-211 170-161 120-111 70-61
210-201 160-151 110-101


Artist: Pete Seeger
Title: Singalong
Year:  1980
Favorite Tracks:

  • Lonesome Valley
  • Amazing Grace
  • Old Time Religion (Filksong)
  • Abiyoyo
  • Cristo Ya Nacio
  • Homestead Strike Song
  • The Young Woman Who Swallowed a Lie
  • If I Had A Hammer
  • The Water Is Wide
  • Old Devil Time

The First Time I Heard This Album …: early 90s

Thoughts: Pete Seeger wanted to record a demonstration album for song leaders, so naturally he chose to record it in Cambridge, Massachusetts where people join a sing-a-long in full harmony at the drop of a hat.  Recorded at Sanders Theatre (where I’ve also performed) the audience sings like angels, although if I recall correctly, Pete seeded the audience with a prepared choir.  Nevertheless, this is folk music as an experience rather than performance.

Bonus Sounds: Pete Seeger’s “folk music is for everyone” tradition has been kept alive by Bruce Springsteen and his We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions recording.


Artist: Various
Title:Trainspotting Motion Picture Soundtrack
Year: 1996
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Lust for Life” – Iggy Pop
  • “Deep Blue Day” – Brian Eno
  • “Temptation” – New Order
  • “Perfect Day” – Lou Reed
  • “Mile End” – Pulp
  • “For What You Dream Of” – Bedrock featuring KYO
  • “A Final Hit” – Leftfield
  • “Born Slippy (Nuxx)” – Underworld

The First Time I Heard This Album …: I saw the movie in 1997, but picked up the album when I was visiting Scotland in 1998

Thoughts: Some soundtracks feel as if they emerge whole cloth from the movie they’re associated with, and none more so than Trainspotting. The music perfectly captures the aimless lives of young, working class Scots who attempt to fill their emptiness with heroin and violence. Surprisingly, most of the songs were previously released and yet somehow form a seamless collection of Britpop, techno, and 70s glam/punk

Bonus Sounds: The initial soundtrack was so popular it prompted a second soundtrack with additional songs from the movie, remixes, and some songs that inspired the movie.


Artist: The Flaming Lips
Title: Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots
Year:  2002
Favorite Tracks:

  • Fight Test
  • Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Pt. 1
  • Ego Tripping at the Gates of Hell
  • Are You a Hypnotist??
  • Do You Realize??

The First Time I Heard This Album …: I want to say 2005?  I think it was in a Pitchfork list of the best albums of the first five years of the century.

Thoughts: I knew of The Flaming Lips as the “She Don’t Use Jelly” band so this album surprised me with its spacey electronic sounds and ruminative lyrics.  The sort-of concept album about a Japanese girl fighting evil robots has been adapted into a musical.

Bonus Sounds: The Flaming Lips continue to release imaginative new music of varying quality including standouts like The Terror (2013) and American Head (2020).


Artist: The New Pornographers
Title: Challengers 
Year: 2007
Favorite Tracks:

  • My Rights Versus Yours
  • Challengers
  • Myriad Harbor
  • Unguided
  • Go Places
  • Mutiny, I Promise You

The First Time I Heard This Album …:Late 2000s, maybe a year or two after release?

Thoughts: This is peak Pornographers, featuring big bold sounds and provocative lyrics.  The title track is one of my all time favorite tunes.

Bonus Sounds: I did an in depth review of The New Pornographers in a Music Discovery in 2016.


Artist: Yo-Yo Ma and Bobby McFerrin
Title: Hush
Year:  1992
Favorite Tracks:

  • Grace
  • Double Mandolin Concerto in G, RV 532: Andante
  • Stars
  • Musette for keyboard in D Major (AMN II/22; doubtful), BWV Anh. 126
  • Coyote
  • Hoedown!
  • Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D Major, BWV 1068: Air

The First Time I Heard This Album …: 1992

Thoughts: Yo-Yo Ma is a celebrated cellist.  Bobby McFerrin is creative vocalist who is unfairly tagged as a one-hit wonder for “Don’t Worry Be Happy” (a song I nevertheless still love), but made an impressive variety of music with his voice and body.  Together they introduce children to classical music.  I knew a lot of big kids who loved this album too, back when I was in college.

Bonus Sounds: Bobby McFerrin’s Medicine Music (1990) is an excellent example of his solo work.  Yo-Yo Ma has excellent collaborations on Appalachia Waltz (1996) with Edgar Meyer and Mark O’Connor and The Goat Rodeo Sessions (2011) with Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer, and Chris Thile, among many others.


Artist: Stevie Wonder
Title:Songs in the Key of Life
Year:  1976
Favorite Tracks:

  • Love’s in Need of Love Today
  • Sir Duke
  • I Wish
  • Knock Me Off My Feet
  • Isn’t She Lovely
  • As
  • Easy Goin’ Evening (My Mama’s Call)

The First Time I Heard This Album …: Late 80s

Thoughts: A sprawling album of 21 tracks, many of them over 5 minutes long, that originally was released as a two LPs with a bonus EP. It’s reminiscent of the Beatles’ “white album” both in the exploration of musical styles and the thought that maybe this could be trimmed down to a solid single album, but which tracks would you cut? Nevermind, splendor in the surplus of sound.

Bonus Sounds: More Stevie coming up in this list since he is a classic album producing machine!


Artist: Crosby, Stills, & Nash
Title:Crosby, Stills, & Nash
Year:  1969
Favorite Tracks:

  • Suite: Judy Blue Eyes
  • Guinnevere
  • You Don’t Have to Cry
  • Pre-Road Downs
  • Long Time Gone
  • 49 Bye-Byes

The First Time I Heard This Album …: Late 80s

Thoughts: One of the first rock supergroups brought together David Crosby of The Byrds, Stephen Stills of Buffalo Springfield, and Graham Nash of The Hollies.  Soon they would be one of the first bands playing arena tours as well. Before the band devolved into in-fighting, substance abuse, and various solo albums and side projects, they created this terrific collection of beautiful harmonies and thoughtful songwriting of the flower power era.

Bonus Sounds: A year later, Neil Young joined the firm and they recorded another excellent album called Déjà Vu.


Artist: The Beatles
Title: Rubber Soul
Year: 1965
Favorite Tracks:

  • Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)
  • Nowhere Man
  • Think for Yourself
  • The Word
  • Girl
  • I’m Looking Through You
  • In My Life
  • If I Needed Someone

The First Time I Heard This Album …: Late 80s

Thoughts: It kind of boggles the mind that in the years 1963-1965, the Beatles averaged two new albums per year plus singles and eps, toured the world, and made two movies. And yet their 6th album, released at the end of 1965, shows no sign of exhaustion and decline. Instead the band were beginning their transition to a studio band with inventive new song stylings and production. One demerit for ending this album with “Run For Your Life,” a hateful stalker song.

Bonus Sounds: I was somehow able to winnow down The Beatles to three albums on this list (one more to come) even though they’re all great in their own ways.  The Beatles’ solo careers are more of a mixed bag.  Check out my Music Discovery on the first decade of the Beatles’ solo work for more of my thoughts on that.


Artist: Tom Waits
Title: Franks Wild Years
Year:  1987
Favorite Tracks:

  • Hang on St. Christopher
  • Straight to the Top (Rhumba)
  • Temptation
  • Innocent When You Dream (Barroom)
  • Yesterday Is Here
  • Way Down in the Hole
  • Cold Cold Ground
  • Innocent When You Dream (78)

The First Time I Heard This Album …: Late 80s

Thoughts: I heard “Innocent When You Dream” on some random compilation I checked out from the library at a youthful age.  Later I got this entire album which sounds like something primal and yet entirely new at the same time.  The songs written by Waits and his wife Kathleen Brennan support a play of the same name which I’ve never seen.

Bonus Sounds: More Tom Waits to come, but in the meantime check out my Tom Waits Music Discovery.


Artist: They Might Be Giants
Title:  Lincoln 
Favorite Tracks:

  • Ana Ng
  • Purple Toupee
  • Where Your Eyes Don’t Go
  • Pencil Rain
  • The World’s Address
  • They’ll Need a Crane
  • Shoehorn with Teeth
  • Kiss Me, Son of God

The First Time I Heard This Album …: Around 1990

Thoughts: They Might Be Giants’ second album was my introduction to the band and I was won over by the catchy hooks and clever lyrics.  Named for John Flansburgh and John Linnell’s hometown of Lincoln, Massachusetts, the songs at first appear comedic but on reflection contain a profound sadness.

Bonus Sounds: Gigantic: A Tale of Two Johns is a documentary about the band and their loyal fanbase that’s worth watching.

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