Day 42: The Coronavirus Countdown – 100 Days of Great Music

The staff of the College Football America Yearbook is on the road every weekend of the college football season, shooting games and gathering information for the following year’s book. That means a lot of driving and listening to a lot of music.

Earlier this year our College Football America Yearbook publisher Kendall Webb and our director of editorial content Chuck Cox put together ‘The Coronavirus Countdown – 100 Days of Great Music.’ Each of them sat down and compiled a list of 100 great albums. Their goal was not to select the ‘100 greatest albums of all time.’ It was simply to select 100 great albums to write about as they passed the time during quarantine and shelter-at-home orders.

This 2020 college football season will be unprecedented in so many ways. It’s very likely none of us will be on the road for games because, like most people, we’re trying to stay healthy. And we hope you are too.

So, for the next 100 days, we’re going to publish their countdown here at CollegeFootballAmericaPR.com (the list was originally published on Webb’s personal site, kendallwebb.net). Consider it the ultimate playlist for the ultimate college road trip — music for every taste, from every genre and from every decade of the modern era of music. When the staff of the College Football America Yearbook is back on the road, you can bet these will be some of the tunes we’re listening to.

And, if you missed the previous installments of our series, just click here to head to the Coronavirus Countdown — 100 Days of Great Music home page.

Here’s Day 42

With many of our bonus picks, we’ve tried to make a direct connection. That’s a little harder to do when your artists of the day are current country music superstar Miranda Lambert and 1930’s blues legend Robert Johnson.

So we’ll do the best we can. Lambert hails from the same neck of the woods that Chuck calls home and where I grew up. She was raised in Lindale, Texas, a school I competed against in high school sports including football. And she was born in a hospital in Longview, Texas, where Chuck attended Spring Hill High School.

It’s an area well-known for producing country stars (Kacey Musgraves, Neal McCoy, Lee Ann Womack, Jim Reeves, Ray Price and others), but it may come as a surprise that it also has deep roots in the acoustic country blues. Artists like Lightnin’ Hopkins, Blind Willie Johnson and Blind Lemon Jefferson all got their start in East Texas playing street corners and other small venues. Like Robert Johnson, Jefferson also died young at the age of 36, and it’s presumed that he died of a heart attack after becoming disoriented in a Chicago snowstorm. But rumors have persisted that, similar to Johnson’s story, he was poisoned by a jealous lover.

Nobody knows for sure, but after making 79 recordings that are considered essential to the blues canon and that are included on your bonus pick of the day, Jefferson was buried in an unmarked grave — a fate that he also shares with Robert Johnson. Jefferson is interred in an unmarked location at a cemetery that now bears his name in Wortham, Texas, where he was born. Johnson, on the other hand, has memorials placed at three cemeteries where he is rumored to be buried.

— Chuck Cox and Kendall Webb

CHUCK’S ALBUM OF THE DAY

Miranda Lambert

The Weight Of These Wings (2016)

Why I Love It

If you have been following our countdown, you know by now that I am a sucker for a great double album. I was already a big fan of East Texas product Miranda Lambert before she released this masterpiece. Lambert is one of the few mainstream country artists today making great music, and she outdid herself on this one. The record is an emotional roller coaster that will have you laughing on one track and fighting back tears on the next. Lambert shows her songwriting prowess on several of the 24 tracks. I believe “Tin Man” is the best song she has ever released. And that’s saying something.

Album Highlights

“Runnin’ Just in Case,” “Vice” and “Tin Man”

Kendall on Chuck’s Album of the Day

I haven’t cared for much of what Nashville has been releasing in quite some time, at least when it comes to male singers. But the females? Well, that’s a different story. Miranda Lambert has consistently put out the best albums in country music over the past 15 years, and this 2016 release is no exception. To put it in its proper perspective, it was the fifth straight album by Lambert to win an Album of the Year award from either the Academy of Country Music or the Country Music Association — a feat that nobody else has managed to date.

KENDALL’S ALBUM OF THE DAY

Robert Johnson

The Complete Recordings (1990)

Why I Love It

I didn’t listen to any old acoustic blues growing up, so my introduction to the genre didn’t come until I was in college in Austin. One of the first blues musicians I explored was Robert Johnson, and I was astounded the first time I heard this collection.

Johnson only made the 41 cuts contained herein which includes alternate takes. Nevertheless, it’s enough to capture what made him so special and influential on later generations. Johnson, hailed as the King of the Delta Blues Singers, was poisoned at the age of 27 and died on August 16, 1938 — the same date as another musical “king.” Elvis Presley, the King of Rock and Roll, died 39 years later to the day on August 16, 1977.

Album Highlights

“Sweet Home Chicago,” “Come On In My Kitchen” and “They’re Red Hot”

Chuck on Kendall’s Album of the Day

It’s easy to sometimes dismiss music from a bygone era. This collection is one of the best reasons that can be a huge mistake. A pioneer of the Delta Blues, Johnson is one of the most gifted players to every strap on a guitar. Whether or not Johnson sold his soul to the devil at the crossroads to become a great musician, he remains one of the all-time greats more than 80 years after his death.

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