Day 78: 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 (the list was originally published on Webb’s personal site, 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 78.

Our two albums today were released in the same general time period — Jackson Browne’s Running On Empty (Chuck’s pick) was released in 1977 while George Strait’s debut Strait Country arrived just four years later in 1981.

We’ve been on a country kick the last few days, and while Strait is, arguably, country music’s most accomplished artist of all-time, Browne was also a founding member of a pioneering country-rock group that found mainstream success on the country charts starting around the time Strait hit the scene.

Browne was long gone by the time the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band released a string of top country singles in the ’80s, but he was a founding member in 1966 when the band released its self-titled debut album — your bonus pick of the day.

— Chuck Cox and Kendall Webb


Jackson Browne

Running On Empty (1977)

Why I Love It

I’ve talked a lot on this countdown about albums of my youth. There’s not one that I heard more than this classic. My mom and dad adored this record, which sort of surprises me when I listen to it now. It also affirms my belief that my parents never paid a lot of attention to lyrics. I’m looking at you, “Rosie.” It’s such an amazing record, and the concept behind it led to an all-time great artist recording an all-time classic. Some tracks on the album were recorded live at shows, while others were recorded while Browne was on tour. The overall feel of the theme of life on the road is as authentic as it gets. I love every track on the album — especially “Rosie.” Even though it was recorded across the United States, the album is also such a great example of the California sound of the late 1970s. It’s one of my favorites. Thanks, mom and dad.

Album Highlights

“Rosie,” “Shaky Town” and “The Load Out”

Kendall on Chuck’s Album of the Day

This is Jackson Browne’s best-known and, not surprisingly, best-selling album with a number of well-known singles that you’ll recognize. This is one of those classic albums that’s listed on a lot of critic lists for the best albums of all-time, and for one very good reason – it is. Solid pick from Chuck.


George Strait

Strait Country (1981)

Why I Love It

It’s hard to believe almost 40 years have passed since this debut album from George Strait dropped.

I was going on nine years old when it surfaced, and Strait’s music has been a key part of the soundtrack of my life ever since. He’s the kind of artist where I download his album the day it’s released. And I’ve got every one of the dozens of albums he’s released ever since.

This album included the hits “Down And Out,” “Unwound” and “If You’re Thinking You Want A Stranger,” but like every Strait album, it’s the quality of the album cuts that make the whole album a must listen.

Album Highlights

“Honky Tonk Downstairs,” “Blame It On Mexico” and “Her Goodbye Hit Me In The Heart”

Chuck on Kendall’s Album of the Day

All hail, King George. This debut album and debut single, “Unwound” launched the career of one of the most legendary artists in country music history — straight out of Texas. Much like Kendall’s Gary Stewart selection yesterday, this is an absolute honky-tonk classic. I love listening to this album because it’s so cool to hear Strait before he was more polished and every music fan on the planet knew his name. He has a ton of great albums to choose from, but I love that Kendall went with the one that started it all.

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