Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time (2020 Edition)

Rolling Stone has published the third edition of its 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list, and it’s more inclusive of country (and country-adjacent) albums than either of its previous incarnations, even though only two of them cracked the top 100.

Here’s a list of the albums from the “Country Universe” that made the list. Titles in bold are on the list for the first time:

#98: Lucinda Williams, Car Wheels On a Gravel Road

#99: Taylor Swift, Red

#118: Eagles, Hotel California

#132: Hank Williams, 40 Greatest Hits

#149: John Prine, John Prine

#164: Johnny Cash, At Folsom Prison

#207: Eagles, Eagles

#224: Dixie Chicks (The Chicks), Fly

#229: Patsy Cline, The Ultimate Collection

#237: Willie Nelson, Red Headed Stranger

#257: Dolly Parton, Coat of Many Colors

#270: Kacey Musgraves, Golden Hour

#284: Merle Haggard, Down Every Road: 1962-1994

#300: Shania Twain, Come On Over

#348: Gillian Welch, Time (The Revelator)

#393: Taylor Swift, 1989

#419: Eric Church, Chief

#426: Lucinda Williams, Lucinda Williams

#440: Loretta Lynn, Coal Miner’s Daughter

#480: Miranda Lambert, The Weight of These Wings

#490: Linda Ronstadt, Heart Like a Wheel

What do you think of this year’s additions?  What albums would you like to see added to the list? Share your thoughts in the comments!

6 Comments

  1. No country album in the top 75, and basically none in the top 100, is absurd. But I doubt they polled many country artists for this list.

  2. Not many really country albums at all – I would call the likes of Lucinda Williams, Eagles, John Prine, Gillian Welch and Linda Ronstadt “fellow travelers’ or Americana rather than country artists.

    STORM OF LIFE by Randy Travis and WAYLON JENNINGS – LIVE both belong in the Top 100

  3. I think it’s important to not take these things either too seriously or as a personal affront against country music, because it’s really just “clickbait”. Some of these choices are, admittedly, eccentric to say the least, including the two-time inclusion of Taylor Swift (though perhaps it was inevitable that she would show up anyway).

    As for Heart Like A Wheel: I think it behooves me to point out Linda was the first female artist to have an album sitting at #1 on both the Billboard Top 200 Album Chart and their C&W Album Chart, plus a #1 hit on the Hot 100 Singles chart (“You’re No Good”) during the same reporting week (February 15, 1975); meanwhile, “I Can’t Help It If I’m Still In Love With You”, was at #7 on the C&W Hot Singles chart as well, headed for #2. It’s true that Linda didn’t consider herself a one-genre singer (much to a lot of critics’ chagrin, as they love to pigeonhole artists constantly), nor even a country artist in the strict Nashville sense of the term; but without her and Heart Like A Wheel, the female country music boom of the 1990s that included such acolytes as Trisha Yearwood and Martina McBride might not ever have happened.

  4. I think Heart Like a Wheel deserved a higher ranking, like it’s received in the previous editions.

    However, Taylor Swift’s two albums being included are anything but eccentric. Both sets are critically acclaimed and excellent from start to finish.

    Expect folklore to be on future editions as well. You can’t make a list of albums that includes the past ten years in its criteria and not have a heavy Swift presence.

    I was very happy to see Frank Ocean’s two albums on there, too. Absolutely brilliant music.

  5. Albums that I would add:

    Jim Croce was an outstanding vocalist and songwriter and a Croce record could never be accused of being over produced. He didn’t need gimmicks – and the man could tell a story, often a very funny one. For those unfamiliar with Jim’s music, you could start out by buying his 14 song collection, “Photographs & Memories”, His Greatest Hits.

    Don Henley’s Cass County

  6. How about the Chicks? A couple years ago Wide Open Spaces made the NPR list of the 150 greatest albums by women, Fly is singled out here, the crew here at CU crowned Home as the best album of the 21st century (I can’t remember if that’s the correct superlative) and Taking the Long Way got all the Grammy love (and is my personal favorite). Gaslighter is great and I can’t wait to see what accolades await it.

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