Music Discoveries: Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time 10-1

In September 2020, Rolling Stone magazine released their most recent list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, which includes a greater variety of artists and genres than previous lists. Looking through the list, there were many albums I’d never listened to before and a few I’d never even heard of. In fact, counting it up, I found that I’d only listened to 140 of the albums, although I’d heard songs from many more. So I’ve decided my project for 2021 is to listen to 10 albums each week and write up some thoughts about each one.

Previous Posts:

500-491 400-381 300-291 200-191 100-91
490-481 390-381 290-281 190-181 90-81
480-471 380-371 280-271 180-171 80-71
470-461 370-361 270-261 170-161 70-61
460-451 360-351 260-251 160-151 60-51
450-441 350-341 250-241 150-141 50-41
440-431 340-331 240-231 140-131 40-31
430-421 330-321 230-221 130-121 30-21
420-411 320-311 220-211 120-111 20-11
410-401 310-301 210-201 110-101

Artist: Lauryn Hill
Album: The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill
Year: 1998
Label: Ruffhouse/Columbia
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: No
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: No
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: Yes
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Ex-Factor”
  • “Doo-Wop (That Thing)”
  • “Forgive Them Father”

Thoughts: Here’s another album that was not at all on my radar in the late 90s, if you need any more evidence of my cluelessness. But, yeah, it’s pretty damn good.

Artist: Bob Dylan
Album: Blood on the Tracks
Year: 1975
Label: Columbia
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: No
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: Yes
Would I Listen to this Album Again?:
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Tangled Up In Blue”
  • “Lily, Rosemary, and the Jack of Hearts”
  • “Buckets of Rain”

Thoughts: If you’ve been reading this series, you are probably aware that while I appreciate Bob Dylan’s contributions to music, his work is not something I would typically choose to listen to.  I don’t feel different about his highest-ranked album on this list.  In fact, I’m a bit surprised that with all of Dylan’s experimentation with different types of music that stylistically this doesn’t all that different from Highway 61 Revisited from a decade earlier.

Artist: Prince and the Revolution
Album: Purple Rain
Year: 1984
Label: Warner Bros.
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: Yes
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: Yes
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: Yes
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Let’s Go Crazy”
  • “Computer Blue”
  • “When Doves Cry”
  • “I Would Die 4 U”
  • “Purple Rain”

Thoughts: Prince rose to be the biggest thing in the world with a hit movie and a hit soundtrack that contains some his most memorable songs.  I remember listening to this as a kid and being creeped out by the backmasking on “Darling Nikki.”  But a lot of the rest of the album was a lot of fun and these songs remain my soundtrack of the Summer of 1984.

Artist: Fleetwood Mac
Album: Rumors
Year: 1977
Label: Warner Bros.
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: Yes
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: Yes
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: Yes
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Dreams”
  • “Don’t Stop”
  • “Go Your Own Way”
  • “The Chain”
  • “You Make Loving Fun”

Thoughts: I’ve tried to hate Fleetwood Mac, especially due to their ubiquity on retail playlists, but their songs are just too irresistible.  This album features songs about acrimonious breakups among the two couples in the band.  It’s kind of delicious that it’s basically a collection of diss tracks where the subject of derision is forced to sing backup lyrics about how bad they are.

Artist: Nirvana
Album: Nevermind
Year: 1991
Label: Geffen
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: Yes
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: Yes
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: Yes
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Smells Like Teen Spirit”
  • “In Bloom”
  • “Come As You Are”
  • “Endless, Nameless”

Thoughts: My opinion of Nevermind is colored by the fact that I was 17-years-old and a freshman at college when the album was released and seemingly changed the music industry overnight. Despite the nostalgia I might have for this album, I actually never owned a physical copy of the album, I just listened to it in other peoples’ dorm rooms.  Thirty years later, this album still sounds fresh and different to me.  Which is strange, because Nirvan were drawing on influences going back decades earlier and have inspired infinite soundalike bands since.

Artist: The Beatles
AlbumAbbey Road
Year: 1969
Label: Apple
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: Yes
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: Yes
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: Yes
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Something”
  • “Octopus’s Garden”
  • “Here Comes the Sun”
  • “The End”

Thoughts: After abandoning the Get Back sessions, the Beatles reconvened in the studio for the final time to record Abbey Road, their last but not really final album. Abbey Road is most famous for the collection of songs and song snippets arranged as a suite to finish out the album (well, except for a 20-second hidden track about the Queen).  I wouldn’t put Abbey Road as my number one Beatles album but it’s definitely in the Top 5.

Artist: Stevie Wonder
Album: Songs in the Key of Life
Year: 1976
Label: Tamla/Motown
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: Yes
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: Yes
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: Yes
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Love’s in Need of Love Today”
  • “Village Ghetto Land”
  • “Sir Duke”
  • “I Wish”
  • “Knocks Me Off My Feet”
  • “As”
  • “Easy Goin’ Evening (My Mama’s Call)”

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, just splendor in the surplus of sound.

Artist: Joni Mitchell
Album: Blue
Year: 1971
Label: Reprise
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: No
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: No
Would I Listen to this Album Again?:
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Carey”
  • “California”
  • “River”

Thoughts: Along with Kanye West and Neil Young, the appearance of another Joni Mitchell album on this list elicits a resigned sigh from me.  And I do feel bad about that and apologize to all the Joni Mitchell lovers out there.

Artist: The Beach Boys
Album: Pet Sounds
Year: 1966
Label: Capitol
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: Yes
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: Yes
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: Yes
Favorite Tracks:

  • “Wouldn’t It Be Nice”
  • “God Only Knows”
  • “I Know There’s An Answer”
  • “I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times”

Thoughts: The Beach Boys, a band known for fun songs about surfing and fast cars, put out this album with mature and introspective lyrics and more complex musicality in 1966.  It proved to be a stepping stone in the evolution of Rock to a more artistic form of music and the dawn of the Album Era. I generally think that the Beach Boys are vastly overrated, but Pet Sounds is definitely worthy of praise and a spot on this list, although the second best album of all time is questionable.

Artist: Marvin Gaye
Album: What’s Going On
Year: Tamla/Motown
Label: 1971
Have I Listened to This Album Before?: Yes
Am I Familiar With This Artist/Songs from This Album?: Yes
Would I Listen to this Album Again?: Yes
Favorite Tracks:

  • “What’s Going On”
  • “Flying High (In the Friendly Sky)”
  • “God is Love”
  • “Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)”

Thoughts: When I first saw the 2020 Rolling Stone 500 Greatest Albums List, I was so pleased to see What’s Going On at the top.  There are a lot of albums that can make the claim to greatest album of all time, and What’s Going On is definitely one of them, but in the Jann Wenner-era of Rolling Stone, Dylan/Beatles/Stones/Zep/Floyd reigned supreme.  Seeing What’s Going On at the top of the list was a sign that it was going to be at least a little bit different than what came before.  And now that I’ve listened to all 500 albums I can say that I’ve heard a lot of great music and learned of many great artists (and reconsidered some others).  That makes the list worthwhile in my mind.

Running List of Albums I’d Listen to Again

  • 500. Arcade Fire, Funeral
  • 498. Suicide, Suicide
  • 497. Various Artists, The Indestructible Beat of Soweto
  • 494. The Ronettes, Presenting the Fabulous Ronettes
  • 489. A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector from Phil Spector and Various Artists, Back to Mono (1958-1969)
  • 487. Black Flag, Damaged
  • 485. Richard and Linda Thompson, I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight
  • 483. Muddy Waters, The Anthology
  • 482. The Pharcyde, Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde
  • 481. Belle and Sebastian, If You’re Feeling Sinister
  • 478. The Kinks, Something Else by the Kinks
  • 477. Howlin’ Wolf, Moanin’ in the Moonlight
  • 469.Manu Chao, Clandestino
  • 465. King Sunny Adé, The Best of the Classic Years
  • 464. The Isley Brothers, 3 + 3
  • 462. The Flying Burrito Brothers, The Gilded Palace of Sin
  • 459. Kid Cudi, Man on the Moon: The End of the Day
  • 457. Sinéad O’Connor, I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got
  • 456. Al Green, Greatest Hits
  • 455. Bo Diddley, Bo Diddley/Go Bo Diddley
  • 453. Nine Inch Nails, Pretty Hate Machine
  • 452. Diana Ross and the Supremes, Anthology
  • 451. Roberta Flack, First Take
  • 448. Otis Redding, Dictionary of Soul
  • 446. Alice Coltrane, Journey in Satchidanada
  • 444. Fiona Apple, Extraordinary Machine
  • 443. David Bowie, Scary Monsters
  • 440. Loretta Lynn, Coal Miner’s Daughter
  • 439. James Brown, Sex Machine
  • 438. Blur, Parklife
  • 437. Primal Scream, Screamadelica
  • 435. Pet Shop Boys, Actually
  • 433. LCD Soundsystem, Sound of Silver
  • 431. Los Lobos, How Will the Wolf Survive?
  • 430. Elvis Costello, My Aim Is True
  • 429. The Four Tops, Reach Out
  • 428. Hüsker Dü, New Day Rising
  • 427. Al Green, Call Me
  • 426. Lucinda Williams, Lucinda Williams
  • 425. Paul Simon, Paul Simon
  • 424. Beck, Odelay
  • 423. Yo La Tengo, I Can Hear the Heart Beating As One
  • 422. Marvin Gaye, Let’s Get It On
  • 421. M.I.A., Arular
  • 417. Ornette Coleman, The Shape of Jazz to Come
  • 416. The Roots, Things Fall Apart
  • 415. The Meters, Looka Py Py
  • 414. Chic, Risqué
  • 413. Creedence Clearwater Revival, Cosmo’s Factory
  • 412. Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Going to a Go Go
  • 409. Grateful Dead, Workingman’s Dead
  • 408. Motörhead, Ace of Spades
  • 406. Magnetic Fields, 69 Love Songs
  • 405. Various, Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era
  • 403. Ghostface Killah, Supreme Clientele
  • 402. Fela Kuti and Africa 70, Expensive Shit
  • 401. Blondie, Blondie
  • 400. The Go-Go’s, Beauty and the Beat
  • 398. The Raincoats, The Raincoats
  • 397. Billie Eilish, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?
  • 395. D’Angelo and the Vanguard, Black Messiah
  • 392. Ike and Tina Turner, Proud Mary: The Best of Ike and Tina Turner
  • 390. Pixies, Surfer Rosa
  • 388. Aretha Franklin, Young, Gifted and Black
  • 387. Radiohead, In Rainbows
  • 386. J Dilla, Donuts
  • 385. Ramones, Rocket to Russia
  • 384. The Kinks, The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society
  • 380. Charles Mingus, Mingus Ah Um
  • 378. Run-DMC, Run-D.M.C.
  • 377. Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Fever to Tell
  • 375. Green Day, Dookie
  • 374. Robert Johnson, King of the Delta Blues Singers
  • 373. Isaac Hayes, Hot Buttered Soul
  • 371. The Temptations, Anthology
  • 369. Mobb Deep, The Infamous
  • 368. George Harrison, All Things Must Pass
  • 365. Madvillain, Madvillainy
  • 364. Talking Heads, More Songs About Buildings and Food
  • 363. Parliament, The Mothership Connection
  • 360. Funkadelic, One Nation Under a Groove
  • 358. Sonic Youth, Goo
  • 357. Tom Waits, Rain Dogs
  • 356. Dr. John, Gris-Gris
  • 354. X-Ray Spex, Germfree Adolescents
  • 351. Roxy Music, For Your Pleasure
  • 350. Stevie Wonder, Music of My Mind
  • 349. MC5, Kick Out the Jams
  • 348. Gillian Welch, Time (The Revelator)
  • 347. GZA, Liquid Swords
  • 346. Arctic Monkeys, AM
  • 345. Bruce Springsteen, The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle
  • 344. Toots and the Maytals, Funky Kingston
  • 343. Sly and the Family Stone, Greatest Hits
  • 342. The Beatles, Let It Be
  • 341. The Smashing Pumpkins, Siamese Dream
  • 338. Brian Eno, Another Green World
  • 337.  Bob Dylan, John Wesley Harding
  • 335. Bob Dylan and the Band, The Basement Tapes
  • 334. Santana, Abraxas
  • 333. Bill Withers, Still Bill
  • 332. Elvis Presley, Elvis Presley
  • 330. The Rolling Stones, Aftermath
  • 329. DJ Shadow, Endtroducing…
  • 328. Vampire Weekend, Modern Vampires of the City
  • 326. Prince, Dirty Mind
  • 323.The Clash, Sandinista!
  • 320. X, Los Angeles
  • 319. The Stone Roses, The Stone Roses
  • 317. Billie Holiday, Lady in Satin
  • 316. The Who, The Who Sell Out
  • 310. Wire, Pink Flag
  • 309. Joy Division, Closer
  • 308. Brian Eno, Here Come the Warm Jets
  • 307. Sam Cooke, Portrait of a Legend
  • 306. Al Green, I’m Still In Love With You
  • 304. Bill Withers, Just As I Am
  • 301. New York Dolls, New York Dolls
  • 299. B.B. King, Live at the Regal
  • 297. Peter Gabriel, So
  • 294. Weezer, Weezer
  • 293. The Breeders, Last Splash
  • 292. Van Halen, Van Halen
  • 289.  Björk, Post
  • 288. The Modern Lovers, The Modern Lovers
  • 287. The Byrds, Mr. Tambourine Man
  • 283. Donna Summer, Bad Girls
  • 282. Frank Sinatra, In the Wee Small Hours
  • 279. Nirvana, MTV Unplugged in New York
  • 278. Led Zeppelin, Houses of the Holy
  • 276. Radiohead, The Bends
  • 275. Curtis Mayfield, Curtis
  • 274. The Byrds, Sweetheart of the Rodeo
  • 273. Gang of Four, Entertainment!
  • 272. The Velvet Underground, White Light/White Heat
  • 267. Minutemen, Double Nickels on the Dime
  • 266. The Beatles, Help!
  • 263. The Beatles, A Hard Day’s Night
  • 262. New Order, Power, Corruption & Lies
  • 261. Beastie Boys, Check Your Head
  • 260. The Slits, Cut
  • 259. Janis Joplin, Pearl
  • 257. Dolly Parton, Coat of Many Colors
  • 256. Tracy Chapman, Tracy Chapman
  • 254. Herbie Hancock, Head Hunters
  • 252. Devo, Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!
  • 250. Buzzcocks, Singles Going Steady
  • 246. LL Cool J, Mama Said Knock You Out
  • 245. Cocteau Twins, Heaven of Las Vegas
  • 242. The Velvet Underground, Loaded
  • 240. Sam Cooke, Live at the Harlem Square Club, 1963
  • 239. Boogie Down Productions, Criminal Minded
  • 238. Kraftwerk, Trans Europe Express
  • 237. Willie Nelson, Red Headed Stranger
  • 236. Daft Punk, Discovery
  • 232. John Coltrane, Giant Steps
  • 229. Patsy Cline, The Ultimate Collection
  • 228. De La Soul, De La Soul Is Dead
  • 227. Little Richard, Here’s Little Richard
  • 226. Derek and the Dominos, Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs
  • 223. John Lennon, Imagine
  • 221. Rage Against the Machine, Rage Against the Machine
  • 220. Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young, Déjà Vu
  • 215.  Grateful Dead, American Beauty
  • 213. Fiona Apple, The Idler Wheel…
  • 212. Nina Simone, Wild is the Wind
  • 211. Joy Division, Unknown Pleasures
  • 210. Ray Charles, The Birth of Soul
  • 209. Run-DMC, Raising Hell
  • 206. David Bowie, Low
  • 205. Cat Stevens, Tea for the Tillerman
  • 202. Björk, Homogenic
  • 201. A Tribe Called Quest, Midnight Marauders
  • 198. The B-52’s, The B-52’s
  • 197. The Beatles, Meet the Beatles!
  • 195. Leonard Cohen, Songs of Leonard Cohen
  • 193. Creedence Clearwater Revival, Willy and the Poor Boys
  • 192. Beastie Boys, Licensed to Ill
  • 191. Etta James, At Last!
  • 190. The Who, Tommy
  • 189. Sleater-Kinney, Dig Me Out
  • 185. The Rolling Stones, Beggars Banquet
  • 184. Cyndi Lauper, She’s So Unusual
  • 181. Bob Dylan, Bringing It All Back Home
  • 178. Otis Redding, Otis Blue
  • 177. Rod Stewart, Every Picture Tells a Story
  • 176. Public Enemy, Fear of a Black Planet
  • 175. Kendrick Lamar, DAMN.
  • 174. Jimmy Cliff and Various Artists, The Harder They Come: Original Soundtrack
  • 173. Nirvana, In Utero
  • 172. Simon and Garfunkel, Bridge Over Troubled Water
  • 171. Sonic Youth, Daydream Nation
  • 170. Cream, Disraeli Gears
  • 169. Billy Joel, The Stranger
  • 167. Depeche Mode, Violator
  • 166. Buddy Holly, 20 Golden Greats
  • 165. R.E.M., Murmur
  • 164. Johnny Cash, At Folsom Prison
  • 162. Pulp, Different Class
  • 161. Crosby, Stills & Nash, Crosby, Stills, & Nash
  • 156. The Replacements, Let it Be
  • 155. Jay-Z, The Black Album
  • 154. Aretha Franklin, Amazing Grace
  • 153. PJ Harvey, Rid of Me
  • 150. Bruce Springsteen, Nebraska
  • 149. John Prine, John Prine
  • 148. Frank Ocean, Channel Orange
  • 146. Blondie, Parallel Lines
  • 144. Led Zeppelin, Physical Graffiti
  • 143. The Velvet Underground, The Velvet Underground
  • 142. Bruce Springsteen, Born in the U.S.A.
  • 141. Pixies, Doolittle
  • 140. Bob Marley and the Wailers, Catch a Fire
  • 139. Black Sabbath, Paranoid
  • 138. Madonna, The Immaculate Collection
  • 137. Adele, 21
  • 136. Funkadelic, Maggot Brain
  • 135. U2, The Joshua Tree
  • 134. Fugees, ‘he Score
  • 132. Hank Williams, 40 Greatest Hits
  • 131. Portishead, Dummy
  • 130. Prince, 1999
  • 127. Ray Charles, Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music
  • 125. Beastie Boys, Paul’s Boutique
  • 124. U2, Achtung Baby
  • 123. Led Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin II
  • 122. Nine Inch Nails, The Downward Spiral
  • 121. Elvis Costello, This Year’s Model
  • 120. Van Morrison, Moondance
  • 119. Sly and the Family Stone, Stand!
  • 116. The Cure, Disintegration
  • 114. The Strokes, Is This It
  • 113. The Smiths, The Queen Is Dead
  • 111. Janet Jackson, Control
  • 109. Lou Reed, Transformer
  • 108. Fiona Apple, When the Pawn …
  • 107. Television, Marquee Moon
  • 104. The Rolling Stones, Sticky Fingers
  • 103. De La Soul, Three Feet High And Rising
  • 102. The Clash, The Clash
  • 101. Led Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin
  • 99. Taylor Swift, Red
  • 98. Lucinda Williams, Car Wheels on a Gravel Road
  • 94. The Stooges, Fun House
  • 92. The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Axis: Bold as Love
  • 88. David Bowie, Hunky Dory
  • 87. Miles Davis, Bitches Brew
  • 86. The Doors, The Doors
  • 85. John Lennon, Plastic Ono Band
  • 84. AC/DC, Back in Black
  • 83. Dusty Springfield, Dusty in Memphis
  • 82. Sly and the Family Stone, There’s a Riot Goin’ On
  • 81. Beyoncé, Beyoncé
  • 80. The Sex Pistols, Never Mind the Bollocks Here’s the Sex Pistols
  • 78. Elvis Presley, The Sun Sessions
  • 77. The Who, Who’s Next
  • 76. Curtis Mayfield, Superfly
  • 75. Aretha Franklin, Lady Soul
  • 73. My Bloody Valentine, Loveless
  • 71. Bob Marley and the Wailers, Exodus
  • 68. Kate Bush, Hounds of Love
  • 66. John Coltrane, A Love Supreme
  • 65. James Brown, Live at the Apollo
  • 64. OutKast, Stankonia
  • 61. Eric B. and Rakim, Paid in Full
  • 60. Van Morrison, Astral Weeks
  • 59. Stevie Wonder, Talking Book
  • 58. Led Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin IV 
  • 56. Liz Phair, Exile in Guyville
  • 54. James Brown, Star Time
  • 53. The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Electric Ladyland
  • 52. David Bowie, Station to Station
  • 51. Chuck Berry, The Great Twenty-Eight
  • 50. Jay-Z, The Blueprint
  • 49. OutKast, Aquemini
  • 48. Bob Marley and the Wailers, Legend
  • 47. Ramones, Ramones
  • 46. Paul Simon, Graceland
  • 45. Prince, Sign O’ the Times
  • 44. Nas, Illmatic
  • 43. A Tribe Called Quest, The Low End Theory
  • 42. Radiohead, OK Computer
  • 41. The Rolling Stones, Let It Bleed
  • 40. David Bowie, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars
  • 39. Talking Heads, Remain in Light
  • 35. The Beatles, Rubber Soul
  • 34. Stevie Wonder, ‘Innervisions
  • 33. Amy Winehouse, Back to Black
  • 32. Beyoncé, Lemonade
  • 31. Miles Davis, Kind of Blue
  • 30. Jimi Hendrix, Are You Experienced
  • 29. The Beatles, White Album
  • 27. Wu-Tang Clan, Enter the Wu-Tang(36 Chambers)
  • 26. Patti Smith, Horses
  • 25. Carole King, Tapestry
  • 24. The Beatles, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
  • 23. The Velvet Underground, The Velvet Underground and Nico
  • 22. The Notorious B.I.G., Ready to Die
  • 21. Bruce Springsteen, Born to Run
  • 20. Radiohead, Kid A
  • 19. Kendrick Lamar, To Pimp a Butterfly
  • 16. The Clash, London Calling
  • 15. Public Enemy, It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back
  • 14. The Rolling Stones, Exile on Main Street
  • 13. Aretha Franklin, I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You
  • 11. The Beatles, Revolver
  • 10. Lauryn Hill, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill
  • 8. Prince and the Revolution, Purple Rain
  • 7. Fleetwood Mac, Rumours 
  • 6. Nirvana, Nevermind
  • 5. The Beatles, Abbey Road
  • 4. Stevie Wonder, Songs in the Key of Life
  • 2. The Beach Boys, Pet Sounds 
  • 1. Marvin Gaye, What’s Going On

A Song and a Story: Solve for X #AtoZChallenge

In algebra, the letter x is used to represent a number, so today I’m going to “solve for x” and write a song and a story about tunes with a number in the title.

First up,


When I was 8, 9, 10 years old, I had a weekly appointment with my radio to listen to American Top 40 with Casey Kasem.  For a time  in the spring of 1983, in order to get a bit of privacy for my Casey Kasem devotion, I would hang out in the garage.  It wasn’t quite warm enough to hang out outside, but the garage door blocked the winds, and with patio furniture in storage, I had a cozy place to recline. Obviously, the Billboard charts were not the place to find obscure music, but nevertheless I learned of artists that I didn’t hear anywhere else.  Among these were Prince and the Revolution and the breakout album 1999.  The title track was about nuclear apocalypse, but it still reminds me of chilling in my garage watching the sunlight filter through the dust in the air.

Ol’ 55

In 2000, I volunteered at the Falcon Ridge Music Festival in Hillsdale, NY.  One of my shifts was the overnight security shift at the main gate.  It seemed appropriate for me as an insomniac to work overnight, but it was lonely and it was cold.  Fortunately, nearby the main gate an artist named Terry Kitchen was leading an all-night campfire song circle.  When it was clear that absolutely no one was coming through that gate, he invited me over to the circle.  Among the songs they played were some early Tom Waits songs, which at the time I was not aware of.  “This was when his voice still sounded normal,” someone told me.  “Ol’ 55” forever reminds me of that overnight campfire song circle on the night when I wasn’t really needed to defend the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival

2019 Blogging A to Z Challenge – A Song and a Story

A: Always on My Mind
B: Baby Come Back and Baker Street
C: Cheek to Cheek
D: Don’t Worry, Be Happy and Doctor Jones
E: Everyday Sunshine
F: Fly Me to the Moon
G: Ghost Town
H: Hobo Humpin’ Slobo Babe
I: If I Were John Carpenter
J: Jungle Strut and Justified & Ancient
K: Kiss
L: Loaded
M: Marble Halls and My Moon, My Man
N: New York, New York
O: Oliver’s Army
P: The Parting Glass
Q: Qué Onda Guero
R: Rave On
S: The Servant Song
T: Thing of Beauty
U: Unworthy
V: The Voyage
W: Working My Way Back to You Babe and Walk of Life

If you want to read more, check out my previous Blogging A to Z Challenges:

And dig deep into Panorama of the Mountains, by checking out my:

And, if you like Doctor Who, I have a whole ‘nother blog where I review Doctor Who stories across media: Epic Mandates.


Resistance Mixtape – Independence Day

Over the past few months I’ve been collecting songs for what I call the Resistance Mixtape.

Music can soothe and inspire.  Songs can tell stories and instruct. And most importantly music brings people together.

Here are some songs for the Resistance Mixtape for Independence Day.

Let’s begin with Paul Robeson, singing about “The House I Live In.”

Woody Guthrie’s famous response to “God Bless America” noted that even in a land where people wait in line at the relief office and signs say “No Trespassing” that the reality is that “This Land is Your Land.”

Prince & the Revolution similarly question the premise of “America the Beautiful” and whether or not the grace of God trickles down to our children.

Kim Weston sings a stirring version of the song known as “The Black National Anthem.”

Finally, the love we have for our own nation need does not mean we hate or demean other nations as we learn in the hymn “This is My Song” written by Lloyd Stone.

What other songs would you add to the mixtape?

Favorite Songs of 1985

The project continues with my favorite songs of 1985.  Read the first post for the detail on this project.

Bitchin’ Camaro – The Dead Milkmen

Everybody Wants to Rule the World – Tears for Fears

I’m A Man You Don’t Meet Every Day – The Pogues

The Show – Doug E. Fresh and Slick Rick

Life in a Northern Town – Dream Academy

Lyin’ Ass Bitch – Fishbone

Raspberry Beret – Prince and the Revolution

Something About You – Level 42

Walk of Life – Dire Straits

West End Girls – Pet Shop Boys

And my song of shame for 1985: We Built This City – Starship

What 1985 musical memories are stirring your brain?  List them in the comments!

Favorite Songs of 1984

The project continues with my favorite songs of 1984.  Read the first post for the detail on this project.

I sense the quality of music is dropping into the mid-80s trough.  Looking at lists of songs from 1984, I can make a top ten list of songs of shame, and not even ones that are still guilty pleasures.  But there’s still enough good stuff left to make an interesting top ten favorites list as well.

Free Nelson Mandela – The Special A.K.A

Glory Days – Bruce Springsteen

How Soon Is Now? – The Smiths

Jam On It – Newcleus

Let’s Go Crazy – Prince and the Revolution

[Seek this song out on your own, but with caution as Prince does not like sharing on the internet]

The Milkman of Human Kindness – Billy Bragg

People Are People – Depeche Mode

Run Run Away – Slade

Skankin’ To The Beat – Fishbone

Stick ‘Em – Fat Boys

And my song of shame for 1984 is: Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer – Elmo & Patsy

What were you listening to in 1984 that you still remember fondly? Let me know in the comments.

Favorite Songs of 1982

The project continues with my favorite songs of 1982.  Read the first post for the detail on this project.

I remember the music of 1982 well, because I received a portable radio/tape player as a first communion gift.  That radio and I were inseparable, and every Sunday I would listen to America’s Top 40 with Casey Kasem.  Looking at the Billboard charts for 1982, I’m familiar with pretty much every song, which I can’t say for a lot of years.

Come On Eileen – Dexy’s Midnight Runners

Gardening at Night – R.E.M.

I Melt With You – Modern English

1999 – Prince and the Revolution

Our House – Madness

Pass The Dutchie – Musical Youth

Save It For Later – The English Beat

Sexual Healing – Marvin Gaye

Steppin’ Out – Joe Jackson

Straight to Hell  – The Clash

And my song of shame for 1982: Pac-Man Fever – Buckner and Garcia

What are your favorite songs of 1982?  Let me know in the comments!