Day 50: 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 50

There isn’t a lot of common ground between our two artists of the day, but suffice it to say, they are both known for redefining boundaries for what was acceptable or, at the very least, expected in their respective genres.

In Loretta Lynn’s case, she rewrote the playbook for female artists in country music singing about “The Pill” and teenage virginity and other topics that were previously considered out of bounds for females.

Michael Jackson, meanwhile, is hailed as the “King of Pop” in part because he, more than any other artist, helped reshape pop music as a visual art at the beginning of the video era. Prior to his solo career, he was a member of the family group, The Jackson 5, another groundbreaking group that was one of the first African-American groups to develop a large crossover audience. Their Greatest Hits collection from 1971 is your bonus pick of the day.

— Chuck Cox and Kendall Webb

CHUCK’S ALBUM OF THE DAY

Michael Jackson

Thriller (1982)

Why I Love It

There’s a reason this classic is the best-selling album of all time. Spawning seven hit singles, including a pair of number ones, “Beat It” and “Billie Jean,” this is the record of the 1980s. Although Michael Jackson was already a household name before its release, Thriller solidified him as one of the biggest artists of all time. The moonwalk didn’t hurt, either. Everywhere you turned back then, “The King of Pop” was there — MTV, radio, Pepsi commercials. The video for the title track is easily the most revolutionary in history and included a dance that is still part of today’s pop culture. This record stands the test of time as an incredible chapter in the history of pop music. It earned every accolade it every received.

Album Highlights

“Thriller,” “Beat It” and “Billie Jean”

Kendall on Chuck’s Album of the Day

There probably aren’t any words that can do this album justice, but Chuck pretty much gave you the rundown. I think he said it about as well as you can say it – this is the album of the ’80s from, arguably, the artist of the ’80s. We’re talking about the King of Pop after all, and this is his definitive statement. Enough said.

KENDALL’S ALBUM OF THE DAY

Loretta Lynn

Van Lear Rose (2004)

Why I Love It

Loretta Lynn’s comeback album in 2004 happened at an age when most artists have hung it up for good. In fact, Lynn had retired in the ’90s to take care of her husband who was dying, and it was presumed that her recorded catalog was complete.

Then, suddenly, she was everywhere again with this album produced by Jack White of The White Stripes. For good reason, too — it’s actually one of the best albums of her entire career.

Now, this isn’t the Loretta Lynn that recorded a long string of country hits starting in the late ’60s and running through the mid-’80s. That is to say, this album wasn’t recorded with an eye on traditional country radio, but it was a hit at progressive country and Americana stations. The batch of songs here rank among the best ever written by Lynn, and the album is no less stunning more than 15 years after its initial release.

Album Highlights

“Van Lear Rose,” “Portland, Oregon” and “Miss Being Mrs.”

Chuck on Kendall’s Album of the Day

This album came within a whisker of being on my list. Since I saw the biopic “Coal Miner’s Daughter” as a kid, I have been a huge Loretta Lynn fan. But this record took my appreciation of this tremendous artist to another level. It is raw, honest and unexpected. I mean, who saw a Loretta Lynn duet with Jack White coming? But “Portland, Oregon” is amazing. That song, “Miss Being Mrs.” and the title track are some of my favorite Loretta Lynn songs. And that’s saying something.

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