I thought this would really be easy. Boy, was I wrong. I had never counted the albunms that I thought were significant to me before. Limiting it by years helped but not much. I finally had to decide on my own groundrules. First, only one album per artist is allowed. This leaves out some really good stuff, but I had to cut somewhere. Generally, this will be the first album of the group/singer that I really took notice of, even if some of their later work might have been more influential. Second, only music albums will be included. I am a great fan of stand-up comedy and have a good collection of albums starting with Stan Freburg and Bob Newhart, moving through Bill Cosby and the Smothers Brothers, with a little Steve Martin and Jeff Foxworthy thrown in at the end. But none of those made the cut, not even my very first album, The Button Down Mind of Bob Newhart, 1960. With those rules in mind, here is my list:
1. Oklahoma! (soundtrack) 1955
This was the very first album I remember my family buying that wasn’t a 78. I loved the music then and still like it just as much today. I have seen more productions than I can remember. Two of my sons played Curly in high school. I have seen it indoors and out. But I always remember the “Chicks and ducks and geese better scurry” line from that very first LP.
2. Kingston Trio…from the Hungry i 1959
While I have very eclectic taste in music, folk is my favorite. I got my first introduction to folk music from the Kingston Trio and have been hooked ever since. They did a lot of good stuff, but nothing better than this live performance from the Hungry i.
3. Joan Baez (album) 1960
Continuing the folk theme, Joan Baez is responsible for raising my awareness of the place of music in the fight for social justice. As a child of the 60s, I was never a big Dylan fan, but I loved his songs when sung by Joanie or Peter, Paul & Mary.
4. Elvis-Blue Hawaii (album) 1961
How could I be a child of the 50s and 60s and not include a Elvis album, but which one? When in doubt, go with the first. I bought a lot more later, but this one started it all. And this from a boy who once helped form a “We Hate Elvis” Club.
5. Peter, Paul and Mary (album) 1962
See what I said above about Joan Baez and the Kinston Trio. I really credit my wife’s sister Anne for introducing me to the best of all the folk groups.
6. Beach Boys-Surfin’ Safari 1962
I know many of you would not choose Surfin Safari as one of the top Beach Boys albums, but it is the one that brought me into the fold. Of course, I still think they stole some of their concepts from Jan and Dean, but that’s another story. And yes, I think Pet Sounds is one of the greatest albums of all time.
7. The Beatles-Please Please Me 1963
What more can I say, “Listen, do you want to know a secret . . .” This is the first album my college room mate bought for his brand new stereo in 1963.
8. The Best of The Animals (1966 album)
The only “best of” album I included, primarily because it has my favorite song, “The House of the Rising Sun” and the most popular song among the GIs in VietNam, “We gotta get out of this place, if it’s the last thing we ever do!”
9. Arlo Guthrie-Alice’s Restaurant (album) 1967
No folk song fan’s list of albums would be complete without at least one song from the Guthrie family and Alice’s Restaurant has long been a family favorite.
10. Simon & Garfunkel-Bookends 1968
This was actually a little past my teen years but definitely a big influence in my life. I think Simon and Garfunkel had the best sound of the 60s and early 70s. I was sad when Dave Guard left the Kingston Trio, I was upset when the Beatles broke up, I was ticked off when Dean Martin left Jerry Lewis, but I was devastated when Paul and Art parted ways.
If I went to go on to my 20s and 30s it would include a lot of John Denver and Harry Chapin, but that will have to wait for another post.