Day 63: 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 63.

At first glance, our two artists of the day wouldn’t appear to have much in common. Chuck’s got an album by Steve Earle while Kendall’s got Nico’s solo debut.

But just a few years ago, Earle participated in a show featuring alt-country chanteuse and performance artist Tammy Faye Starlite as Nico. The show, Chelsea Mädchen, was a hit in New York where Earle lives, and he performed “I’m Waiting For The Man” with Starlite in at least one of the shows at The Bootleg Theater.

Nico recorded with The Velvet Underground on their debut album, and her deadpan delivery was sometimes compared to another ’60s singer and starlet named Marianne Faithfull. Both singers were noted for their beauty and their high-profile relationships. They also both had debilitating heroin habits, and Nico’s hard-living finally caught up with her when she died of a cerebral hemorrhage after a bicycle accident in Spain in 1988. Faithfull, meanwhile, had fallen so far since her days as Mick Jagger’s love interest that she lived for a while on the streets in London ravaged by her drug habit in the ’70s before eventually recovering long enough to record her masterpiece, Broken English, in 1979. That’s your bonus pick of the day, but interestingly, Faithfull had a third act starting in the 2000’s when she also released a song in tribute to Nico titled, simply, “Song For Nico.”

— Chuck Cox and Kendall Webb

CHUCK’S ALBUM OF THE DAY

Steve Earle

Train A Comin’ (1995)

Why I Love It

Like Kendall, I am a huge Steve Earle fan. I knew right off the bat that he would be on my list, but picking which album to include wasn’t an easy task. As much as I love his first three records released in the 1980s, the four that he dropped the following decade all blew me away. I decided on this one because it has some of my all-time favorite songs in his immense catalog. It’s also the one I seem to come back to more often that most of the others. The album has a few great cover songs, including a masterful version of Townes Van Zandt’s “Tecumseh Valley” to close the album, but Earle’s songwriting on the originals is next-level greatness. Of course, I also love that the first line of “Tom Ames’ Prayer” mentions Nacogdoches, Texas, where I graduated from college at Stephen F. Austin State University. The album came out the year after I graduated from SFA, and I have listened to this album ever since. It might have been released 25 years ago, but it will never get old.

Album Highlights

“Tom Ames’ Prayer,” “Ben McCulloch” and “Tecumseh Valley”

Kendall on Chuck’s Album of the Day

This is one of Steve Earle’s masterpieces, and one of several albums I considered for my own list. Of course, I settled on The Hard Way earlier in our countdown — Steve’s final studio album before he disappeared for about four years during his “vacation in the ghetto” supporting a drug habit on the streets of South Nashville. Chuck’s pick, ironically, is his comeback album that relaunched a career that now spans 45 years back to his appearance as a vocalist on Guy Clark’s Old No. 1 album in 1975.

KENDALL’S ALBUM OF THE DAY

Nico

Chelsea Girl (1967)

Why I Love It

If you’re a music fan or historian of any kind, you’ll eventually wind your way back through The Velvet Undergound and Nico, the 1967 album that introduced both artists to the world.

While the album was a critical and commercial flop at the time, it’s now hailed as one of the most influential albums of all time. It was from that album that I discovered the music of Nico which led me to this album.

Suffice it to say, the German-born artist, who spoke several languages, is probably an acquired taste. But her unique accent and the production-style of this album — it’s described as traditional chamber-folk album — is one of the most fascinating pop records I’ve ever heard. What really pulls it all together like any great album is the quality of the songwriting. It all adds up to the sound of another place and time that once was and never will be again, and it’s a beautiful testament to Nico’s unique talent. On a side note, it’s also one of my favorite album covers of all time.

Album Highlights

“The Fairest Of The Seasons,” “These Days” and “I’ll Keep It With Mine”

Chuck on Kendall’s Album of the Day

Although Nico’s dialect takes a little bit of getting used to, this is a pretty spectacular album from start to finish. What do you expect with the Velvet Underground, Jackson Browne and Bob Dylan contributing to the overall effort? It’s like a mini version of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. This is an album that continues to grow on me every time I give it another spin. The combination of Nico’s voice and the strings on “I’ll Keep it With Mine,” penned by Dylan, never fails to make the hair stand up on my arms. If you aren’t familiar with it, give this one a shot.

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