Monday, 5 November 2012

Top 102 Albums. No. 102 Red Headed Stranger

My Top 102 Albums

Two of my favourite bloggers are currently going through their top albums on a daily basis.

Friend of Rachel Worth at Cathedrals of Sound is blogging their Top 125 Albums  and Trevor Jones at Hissyfit joined in to blog his Top 110.

I thought I'd try to join in today, at 102, although keeping it to 102 is quite difficult. At this stage I have a still growing list of 140 plus albums. I'm going to start blogging an album a day and edit this list as I go along. It's sure to lead to some fraught choices when it gets to the what do I leave out stage.

There are some rules - no compilations, no live albums and I'll try to stick to these but will probably break them a few times. That is what rules are for.

So Album No. 102, what will I choose? I haven't been even able to start trying to put my list in any order. Every time I look at the list it grows. I know that no matter how long I look at it there will be sighs of frustration when I remember some album that somehow slipped my mind.

I make no claims for any sort of definitive guide - I find music and albums inseparable from memory. Many of these were close companions during defining moments in my life, particularly during the eighties and nineties when I had little to get in the way of listening to music and so did it non stop.

I've decided to pick one I know won't be culled as my no. 102, Willie Nelson's Red Headed Stranger.

This is, I guess, a classic album but there isn't always a need to turn and run when approaching one of these. It's an album that works when you're paying attention and also in the background when doing other things. When you have kids this tends to increase in importance.

I always loved SOME country music but tended to limit that to Hank Williams and Johnny Cash. I held off Willie Nelson for a long time because I heard some stuff that was over saccharine. Willie clearly felt the same. To make this album he left his label, moved away from the industry to Texas and stuck to the simple formula of guitar and voice. Even though I bought this after my obsessive listening phase was over it has been played many, many times. It was full of familiar songs to start with - here's one:

Google has just told me that there is a movie based around this album and that makes sense. The album is very much a suite of songs which sound like they belong together. The title track is one of the great story songs.

The themes are those staples of country, love, jealousy, murder, guilt, redemption etc. Just saddle up and ride out with your ipod in a leather holster loaded with just this album and you'll be fully armed for a long trek through the whole gamut of emotion. It's way higher than 102 but I'm not making any claims to be ordering these albums in a coherent way. They will just come out whatever way they do.

by the way, here's a trailer for the movie:


  1. Blimey Seamus, you've raised the bar with you analysis here.
    Love this album too, a fine first entry from you sir...
    I have a soft spot for 'Across the Borderline' and 'Teatro' but agree that this is his defining album.
    His guitar solo playing is almost as brilliantly bad as Van's sax!