Day 48: 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 48

Probably the most obvious connection between our two artists of the day is that both of them are known for their skill on the piano.

Jerry Lee Lewis was a stylist who redefined how the piano could carry a song as the lead instrument in rock and roll and country music. Billy Joel was a pop legend who would prove so influential on the instrument that he would become known as “The Piano Man” — the title of his first major hit.

Lewis comes from a musical family. His sister Linda Gail Lewis is also a fine pianist, and you may recognize the names of his famous cousins — Mickey Gilley and Jimmy Swaggart (yes, the TV preacher) — who were both skilled pianists as well. But there was another cousin who was older and was maybe even a bigger influence on Lewis — a musician named Carl McVoy who also recorded for Sun Records.

McVoy is virtually unknown today, but his music is worth digging up and listening to. You can certainly hear his influence on Jerry Lee Lewis, and the Ding Dong Presents Vol. 2 features a solid cut of McVoy on “Tootsie” that could pass as an old forgotten Jerry Lee Lewis classic.

— Chuck Cox and Kendall Webb

CHUCK’S ALBUM OF THE DAY

Billy Joel

The Stranger (1977)

Why I Love It

Few solo artists have had as prolific of a career as Billy Joel. His consistency never ceases to amaze me. He has several records that I could have easily chosen to include on my list, but I stuck with this classic, which is widely regarded as his best. There’s no denying the prowess of his fifth studio album, which yielded some of the all-time classics in his catalogue that he still regularly includes in his live set. It’s a bit of a concept album, but the songs are so strong that they could all easily stand alone. Produced by Phil Ramone, this record sounds like the soundtrack to some insanely great Broadway show. I have always loved it. If we ever get back to normal, I plan to try to see Billy at one of his Madison Square Garden residency shows.

Album Highlights

“(Movin’ Out) Anthony’s Song,” “Only the Good Die Young” and “She’s Always a Woman”

Kendall on Chuck’s Album of the Day

Like Chuck points out, this is probably the greatest album Billy Joel ever put out, and in 1977, he was certainly at the height of his powers. It had been a while since I had listened to this, and it was good to hear songs like “(Movin’ Out) Anthony’s Song,” “Scenes From An Italian Restaurant” and “Only The Good Die Young” again. A very theatrical affair.

KENDALL’S ALBUM OF THE DAY

Jerry Lee Lewis

Another Place Another Time (1969)

Why I Love It

My dad wasn’t a huge fan of the Memphis rockabillies although he did express some regret later in life that he hadn’t seen Elvis when he was just getting started.

You see, for a short time in 1954-55, Elvis was a star on the Louisiana Hayride, and in between his regular Friday and Saturday night appearances in Shreveport, he and his band would hit the road as far as they could go and still make it back to the Hayride on the weekends. Many of Elvis’s earliest dates were in East Texas where my dad is from, and certainly there were opportunities that he passed up.

But while my dad might not have been a huge fan of the Sun Records content, he was converted when another one of those rockabillies made a bid for mainstream country stardom. Struggling to find success on the rock charts in the years after his marriage to his 13-year-old cousin, Jerry Lee Lewis recorded a straight country album, and released the title track to country radio in 1968. “Another Place, Another Time” stunned everybody by racing up the country charts eventually peaking at No. 4. Lewis finally had the comeback hit he had been searching for, and in the ensuing decade, he became a mainstay on the country charts reviving a career that had once seemed all but dead. He also made a fan out of my dad who bought almost all of Jerry’s albums after his switch to country and remain part of my extensive country vinyl collection. That includes your album of the day here.

Album Highlights

“What’s Made Milwaukee Famous (Has Made A Loser Out Of Me),” “Another Place, Another Time” and “Before The Next Teardrop Falls”

Chuck on Kendall’s Album of the Day

You can’t go wrong with “The Killer.” Especially because my mom’s side of the family is also from Louisiana, I have always been a big fan. Any time he plays the piano, it’s pure magic. I love that Kendall included one of his earliest albums because you can hear him transforming into a mega star on this fantastic record. It’s a great album for a big fan or for someone just discovering his music. He is rock and roll royalty and the greatest piano player of all time.

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