1. American Recordings, Johnny Cash. Last night, with a sick baby girl, I packed her up in her car seat and took her for a drive. For all the nonparents, or soon to be parents, this really does work. I guess they like the bouncing around.
Anyway, for some reason, my 2 month old loves Johnny Cash. She will sit in her bouncy seat and listen to him, whether it is Live At San Quentin, American Recordings, or any of the three CD’s from Love, God and Murder. But, it’s American Recordings that she loves the best. And I do to. Everything you could ever want from Cash is on this CD. A tale about a man who kills his woman for being devilish and mean, songs about coming back from Vietnam, and riveting, dark gospel songs about the Beast in Me and how the Blood washes us as we cling to the tree of life. And, the album standout, about a man who couldn’t cry, makes me laugh every time. It’s all there, with only an acoustic guitar and a voice deepened and cracked by years of experience.
2. Joshua Tree, U2. Self Explanatory.
3. Ten, Pearl Jam. I don’t know if I couldn’t live without this album because it reminds of a time when Rock and Roll really meant something, or if just because the album Rocks. But, when stuck for something to listen to, Ten is what I turn to.
4. Ask the Fish, Leftover Salmon. This is my Saturday morning with nothing else to do CD. 100% Cajun Slam Grass
5. For the Record: The First Ten Years, David Allan Coe. I know, it’s probably gauche to have the greatest hits of an artist and call it your favorite. But, I have other, later David Allan Coe records and nothing matches the collection found here. He is a hit and miss songwriter and you are better off with just the hits. Besides, “The Ride” gives me chills ever time I listen.
6. This Time, Dwight Yoakam. Let me be clear up front, I love Dwight Yoakam and own just about everything he has put out. But, This Time is his masterpiece. The whole Bakersfield sound comes together on this record and every song is beautifully sung and beautifully crafted. “Thousand Miles from Nowhere,” supposedly written after breaking up with Sharon Stone, is a solid gold, make you sad every time song . . . “I’ve got heartaches in my pocket/I’ve got echoes in my head/And all that I keep hearing are the cruel, cruel things that you said.”
7. Sister Sweetly, Big Head Todd and The Monsters. This is my midnight radio CD, when it’s dark and you are facing the demons.
8. Strait Out of the Box, George Strait. Yeah, yeah, it is a box set. You know what? It also makes Baby Girl happy, so whatever makes her happy right now, makes me happy. Worth owning just for the song (and no this is not the real title, just the chorus), “I know she still loves me, but I don’t think she likes me anymore.”
9. Viva Hate, Morrissey. I’ve hung on to this one since I was an angst-ridden sophomore in high school. The Smiths stuff doesn’t always stand up, and Morrissey’s later solo efforts are . . . well . . . an extended pity party. And, for the most part, Viva Hate is an extended pity party. It’s the beginning of the party though and doesn’t drag on. Worth owning for “I Don’t Mind if You Forget Me” and “Every Day is Like Sunday.”
10. Performance and Cocktails, Stereophonics. The second CD from the blue collar band from Welsh. I got a chance to see them while on my honeymoon in Dublin, Ireland at the Olympia Theater. The show was sold out, but I told the theater manager I was an A&R Rep for Maverick Records, the division of Interscope Records owned by Madonna. He took my (then new) wife and me in the side door and told us to enjoy the show. I think he knew I was lying, but was impressed with my brazenness and decided to reward it