Rounding out 20-11:
12. The Beatles [UPDATE: moved to number 11.]
Where would the world be without The Beatles? But then again, where would The Beatles have been without Elvis? And where would Elvis have been without Big Boy Crudup? And Crudup without Lead Belly and Blind Lemon Jefferson? And Blind Lemon Jefferson without Hobart Smith? STOP! INFINITE REGRESSION! So basically Hobart Smith founded The Beatles, who would become the single most influential musical group in history. I know what some of you are thinking: ‘Beatles not in the Top 5, let alone the Top 10! Blasphemy!’ They are phenomenal, and if George Harrison had written more of their songs (I’m in love with George) and they didn’t write all of their cute pop music that preceded Rubber Soul (and even Rubber Soul isn’t entirely free of it) they’d probably be higher on my list. While The Beatles will find their way into what seems to be every other Top 10 list, their lack of longevity also plays a factor here. Still, two of their records are found on my Top 50 Albums list: The Beatles [The White Album] (1968) and Abbey Road (1969).
‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ from their 1967 album Magical Mystery Tour:
‘Let it Be’ from their 1970 album of the same name:
11. Neil Young [UPDATE: moved to number 14.]
The legendary Neil Young has often been noted for his sincerity – noticing a pattern in my preferences? It’s true that I’m a sucker for artists that I can truly believe, and among them Neil Young is the Godfather. This personal touch plus his unique vocal style (oftentimes accompanied by driving guitars) have made him an incredibly distinct artist in a music world full of clones over the last five decades. His album Harvest (1972) is featured on my Top 50 Albums list and 1970’s After the Gold Rush should probably in there as well.
‘Needle and the Damage Done’ from the album Harvest, performed on The Johnny Cash Show in 1971:
‘After the Gold Rush’, from the album of the same name, live in 1978: