Thursday, May 8, 2014



I can remember a time
when country music was
honest, pure and real — 
before being reduced 
to little more than  
hokey, hillbilly hip hop 
and soulless Auto-Tuned 
soundbites for alcohol 

Although I was born in Chicago, I was raised in Springfield, Missouri — the “Queen City,” located in the heart of the Ozark Mountains. My mom and dad’s sides of the family both were from Tennessee. As a kid, I spent many summers on various farms, visiting aunts who never missed a church service and prided themselves on their fried okra and homemade peach cobbler, and uncles who grew beans, wore (only) bibbed overalls and chewed lots of Red Man. I’ve experienced using a cane pole down at the ol’ fishin’ hole and I have personal knowledge of outhouses. I even know exactly how far “yonder” is. Simply put — I am a country boy at heart.

Consequently, in addition to my sister exposing me to her pop record collection, country music also was a major part of my early music experience. Not the generic, watered-down, twangy-pop version of country music popularized by the "Tobys" and "Taylors" of today, but traditional country music from authentic old school legends such as Hank Williams, Loretta Lynn, Eddy Arnold and Patsy Cline.

Having been raised on the good stuff — the real stuff, it's especially heartbreaking to see how country music has "evolved" over the last 20+ years. But for those who may be too young ever to have discovered the "good stuff," or for those who can appreciate a rediscovery, here's my list of the definitive greatest, and most authentic country albums of all time...

The Best Of 

The Virginia-based, Gospel-inspired
quartet got their start as Johnny
Cash's back-up group in the early
'60s. By the mid '70s they were
arguably the biggest act in country
music. 50 years later, many of their
earliest hits, including "Flowers
on the Wall" remain classics.

Red Headed Stranger

After years of paying dues,
this record finally put Willie
Nelson on the map. Featuring
his chart-topping break-out hit
"Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain,"
it also gave birth to a new
genre — "Outlaw Country."

Behind Closed Doors

A little Gospel, a little pop,
and a whole lotta pure country.
This multi-platinum, #1 crossover
smash snatched "the Silver Fox"
from the jaws of obscurity and
made him an overnight sensation.

The Pressure Is On

Timeless and infinitely
cool, this million-seller
made "Bocephus" a
household name. Features
Williams' only Certified
Gold single — "A Country
Boy Can Survive."

Guitars, Cadillacs,
Etc., Etc.

This record blew my mind
when it hit. And it still does!
A bona fide industry game-
changer. It's THE single
greatest and most authentic
country album of all time —
(Check out the title track)

In the spirit of full disclosure, I'll admit that I was first introduced to most of these albums back in the day on 8-track. Thank goodness for CDs and iTunes! And I encourage like-minded folks to check 'em out, enjoy and discuss!

-Christopher Long
(May 2014)

Author Christopher Long's latest book
is available NOW on Amazon.

Also from Christopher Long...


  1. I did not know there was even 1 good country album.... let alone 5.... hehehehe


    1. Vince -- you crack me up, dude! Yeah, a long time ago, there were a bunch.