Thursday Open Thread

Entertainment Weekly sure does love its lists.  They recently ranked the 100 Essential Albums of the Last 25 Years.   The top 25 includes one country album: Shania Twain’s Come On Over at #24.  Ranked elsewhere on the list are Johnny Cash’s American IV: The Man Comes Around, Lucinda Williams’ Car Wheels on a Gravel Road, Emmylou Harris’ Wrecking Ball, and Dixie Chicks’ Home.

For the artists above, I think they nailed their most essential albums, with the exception of Cash.   I would’ve chosen one of the first two American sets instead. I actually like Up! quite a bit more, but Come on Over is the essential Twain album.

Of course, the real question is…what did they miss?

I would start by adding Loretta Lynn’s Van Lear Rose,  Dolly/Linda/Emmylou’s Trio and Randy Travis’ Storms of Life.

If you had to add more essential country albums from that period (1983-2008), what would they be?


  1. Where do I start – staying only with “name brand” artists

    LAST OF THE BREED – Ray Price, Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson
    KICKIN’ OUT THE FOOTLIGHTS – George Jones & Merle Haggard
    STORMS OF LIFE – Randy Travis
    TIME – Ray Price
    TRIO – Emmy Lou Harris, Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt

    I probably should add one of Brad Paisley’s albums as well – MUD ON THE TIRES is probably the best of an outstanding group of albums.

  2. dwight yoakam – “this time”
    clint black – “killing time”
    patty loveless – “the trouble with the truth”
    george strait – “beyond the blue neon”
    alan jackson – “don’t rock the jukebox”
    trisha yearwood – “hearts in armour”

  3. I agree with John W. with Patty and Lee Ann.

    And I know it was not a big commercial hit, but Mark Chesnutt’s “Savin’ the Honky Tonk” s pretty damn good. Alan Jackson’s “Drive” is another good one. And I gotta give a shout-out to Vince Gill’s “These Days”.

  4. Alan Jackson – Drive
    Alan Jackson – Don’t Rock the Jukebox
    Garth Brooks – No Fences
    Clint Black – Killin’ Time
    Randy Travis – Storms of Life
    Vince Gill – Pocket Full of Gold
    Dwight Yoakam – This Time
    the Judds – Rockin’ With the Rhythm
    George Strait – Blue Clear Sky
    Patty Loveless – Only What I Feel
    Wynonna Judd– Wynonna
    Pam Tillis – All This Love

  5. WANTED! – The Outlaws (Jennings-Nelson-Colter-Glaser)
    Willie Nelson – Red-Headed Stranger
    Dixie Chicks – Fly
    Any/all of the Johnny Cash American recordings
    Any/all Merle Haggard

    I fully agree with the suggestions by other readers–some great listening there.

  6. I’d like to clarify that my two choices are what I would include from an all-genre perspective like the one the list used; my complete essential country list would be a good deal longer and include many of the choices others have cited. Although it has to be said that EW’s “all-genre” list doesn’t exactly present a fair cross-section of popular music; there’s a clear bias toward “cooler” artists, thus the overwhelming amount of indie rock present on it (not that the choices they cited from that genre aren’t strong in their own right, but…will Cat Power’s set really be regarded as one of the top 20 classics of our era in any genre of music thirty years from now?) It’s worth noting that the only country-leaning picks on their list are either a) exceptionally successful commercial (Shania and the Chicks, who sold so many albums it would be outrageous to exclude them) or b) acceptable for maintenance of hipster cred (Emmylou, Cash, Williams). It’s a shame country music is still getting this kind of shaft from mainstream media.

  7. WANTED! – The Outlaws (Jennings-Nelson-Colter-Glaser) and Willie Nelson’s RED HEADED STRANGER do not fall within EW’s 25 year parameters

    I completely agree with what Dan M said above. The mainstream media normally shafts real country music while rewarding the flotsom and jetsam at the fringes of country music. This is evident in magazines like PEOPLE, EW, newspapers like the NEW YORK TIMES and THE WASHINGTON POST and organizations such as NARAS

  8. Dan,

    When I got the issue and started reading the list, I was on board until #5, which was Madonna’s self-titled debut album. The idea that Madonna’s first album was anywhere close to her best album was ridiculous, let alone that it was the fifth-best album of the past 25 years. She’s made six or seven classic albums above that one.

    So once I got to the few country albums, I was already not taking the list seriously. I actually think it’s impossible to do all-genre album lists anyway. Apples and oranges.

    Now their TV list, on the other hand, they absolutely nailed. Actually, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” should’ve been a bit higher than #10, but “The Simpsons” is definitely the best TV show of the last 25 years, and possibly of all-time.

  9. Hey Kevin, where can I see that TV list? I have to agree about The Simpsons … I’ve loved that show for as long as I can remember. Comedy Central’s South Park should be on there in the top 10 too … Got a link?

  10. I agree, the TV show list was terrific. Although I don’t think “Desperate Housewives” (#56) belonged anywhere on the list, “Spongebob” (possibly the best children’s cartoon of the 25-year era) deserved much higher than #89, and they lose so many points from me for including “The Hills” over “Boy Meets World,” which has become an enormous favorite of my generation thanks to period of time where it aired on the Disney channel.

  11. hmmm……

    Reba- “What If It’s You” or “For My Broken Heart”
    Sara Evans- “Born To Fly”
    Martina McBride- “Timeless”
    Faith Hill- “Breathe”, “Cry” or “Fireflies”
    Wynonna- “What The World Needs Now Is Love”
    Lee Ann Womack- “I Hope You Dance” or “There’s More Where That Came From”
    LeAnn Rimes- “Family” or “this woman”

    course… that’s just me…..

    AND maybe a Trisha Yearwood album (preferably “Jasper county”)

1 Trackback / Pingback

  1. Willie Nelson Tune Lands On List Of Most Unusual Funeral Songs -- The 9513

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.