The Greatest Albums of All-Time, 2021 Edition

Our local public radio station, WXPN, is a treasure, and their reader poll to determine the greatest albums of all time was a lot of fun. In the end, it became a bit of a Classic Rock Fest and a little hard to listen to, as the Top 10 albums were played in their entirety. Until then, though, it was just about perfect as the first 1,900 or so albums were one-song-and-done, which gave the whole thing a rollicking speed and serendipity. For this Gen X’er who appreciates Classic Rock but cut my teeth on the music of the ’80s and ’90s before taking a twangy turn in later years, it was a lot of fun.

Take this run from a recent morning (you have to read bottom-to-top to get the sequencing):

#220 – SONGS FROM THE BIG CHAIR by TEARS FOR FEARS

#221 – VAMPIRE WEEKEND by VAMPIRE WEEKEND

#222 – KATY LIED by STEELY DAN

#223 – LADIES OF THE CANYON by JONI MITCHELL

#224 – ILLMATIC by NAS

#225 – KICK by INXS

#226 – MORRISON HOTEL by THE DOORS

#227 – EVERY PICTURE TELLS A STORY by ROD STEWART

#228 – VAN HALEN by VAN HALEN

#229 – LIEGE & LIEF by FAIRPORT CONVENTION

#230 – FEAR OF MUSIC by TALKING HEADS

#231 – PETER GABRIEL by PETER GABRIEL

#232 – TALKING BOOK by STEVIE WONDER

#233 – BRINGING IT ALL BACK HOME by BOB DYLAN

#234 – MIDNIGHT MARAUDERS by A TRIBE CALLED QUEST

#235 – BLOND by FRANK OCEAN

#236 – INDIGO GIRLS by INDIGO GIRLS

#237 – TURNSTILES by BILLY JOEL

#238 – BEFORE THESE CROWDED STREETS by DAVE MATTHEWS BAND

#239 – DESIRE by BOB DYLAN

#240 – TIME (THE REVELATOR) by GILLIAN WELCH

#241 – SURREALISTIC PILLOW by JEFFERSON AIRPLANE

#242 – MEDDLE by PINK FLOYD

#243 – THE CRANE WIFE by THE DECEMBERISTS

#244 – BOXER by THE NATIONAL

#245 – COME AWAY WITH ME by NORAH JONES

#246 – GOLDEN HOUR by KACEY MUSGRAVES

Twenty-seven songs, over 2-plus hours, that had you singing along, enjoying memories, and marveling at the different ways to make music.

The top of the survey is a bit of a Classic Rockfest — the Beatles will be at #1, Bruce will be #2 or #3 with Born to Run, and the Stones will fill the other spot (editor’s note: I wrote this before the countdown ended and was mostly correct, but it was Pink Floyd, Dark Side of the Moon, not the Stones, at #2), but it’s still been a great week to listen and enjoy our public radio station, even with the fan’s frustrations. (Isbell’s top-ranked album, Southeastern, checked in at #128, between the Pixies’ Doolittle and Led Zeppelin’s Houses of the Holy. I’m OK with that, but kinda pissed that John Hyatt’s Bring the Family ended up at #431. A travesty!)

And just because all this talk has got me thinking, here are the favorite albums of my adult life, in no particular order:

Bring the Family, John Hyatt

Living with Ghosts, Patty Griffin

Making Movies, Dire Straits

The Rising, Bruce Springsteen

I and Love and You, The Avett Brothers

Southeastern, Jason Isbell

American Band, Drive-By Truckers

Indigo Girls, Indigo Girls

Nevermind, Nirvana

Traveller, Chris Stapleton

Ten, Pearl Jam

Come Away with Me, Norah Jones

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