Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Story of My Top Ten List, Part II

As you will remember from my last post, I was assigned the task of listing my top ten folk/roots albums of all time by Penguin Eggs Magazine. So far, I've got six on my list, and I will carry on here by telling you about the last four to make my top ten list.

My first six albums all represented music that I had absorbed pretty early in life. So for my last four choices, I thought I would pick some albums that I have come to know and love more recently. I stayed away from anything too new-- for me an album can't become a keeper until I've had the experience of listening to it intensely for a while, putting it away, and then digging it out again because I love it so much.

Linda Morrison is one of my favourite singers of all time. She doesn't perform too much outside her hometown of Montreal. Her album "Line By Line" lived in our car for many years and got played on every car trip. And I mean EVERY car trip. Her music is jazzy, bluesy, her voice is heavenly, and her writing is beautiful.

Every once in a while you hear an artist who redefines everything. Eliza Gilkyson is one of those artists for me. When I first listened to this album, I had to stop and repeat most of the songs because I couldn't believe what she was doing in the space of a few minutes. Her songs are tiny masterpieces.

Penny is one of my musical heroes -- she can sing the blues, she can sing old Scottish songs, heck she could sing the phone book and I'd sit at her feet and lap it up. This album, produced by Roma Baran, is a gem.

I miss Oliver, but I am grateful to have basked even a little bit in the glow of his incredible spirit and creativity. It was hard to choose one of his albums, but this one, recorded during the time he was ill, certainly stands among his best.

And that friends, was the end of my list. After I finished my painstaking process, I held onto the list for a few days, and returned to it a bunch of times to see if I wanted to reconsider any choices. And surprisingly, the list held up (at least for those few days). Without meaning to, I created a list that was exactly split down the middle in terms of American and Canadian albums, which seemed poetic and right (as someone who was born in the U.S., but has lived in Canada for many years). There are some artists that will be familiar to lots of people, and a few that will be complete unknowns, and I liked that. Lots of powerful women in the list, and I liked that. There's old stuff, and (fairly) new stuff. There are many genres and traditions represented. All in all, it seemed like a nice mix. So I held my breath, and sent it off to Penguin Eggs.

And that's the story of my top ten folk/roots albums of all time.

I already wish I could do it all over again, but so be it. I hope that it inspires you to check out some of this music. Here's the list all in one go:

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