Day 37: The Coronavirus Countdown - 100 Days of Great Music

After a day of heavy contrasts, our picks line up real nice today. In fact, Kendall's artist, Woody Guthrie, was a big influence on Chuck's artist, John Mellencamp, who even received an award named in Guthrie's honor a couple of years ago.

Guthrie was also a major influence on his own son, Arlo Guthrie, who has been recording and performing since the mid-'60s. Arlo recorded his debut album at the age of 20 years old, and the first side was comprised of a single song - the sprawling title track "Alice's Restaurant Massacree," a talking blues number that lasted 18 minutes and 34 seconds. The album reportedly sold more than a million copies and has remained a staple of Guthrie's live performances throughout his career. That album - "Alice's Restaurant" - is your bonus pick of the day.

- Chuck Cox and Kendall Webb


John Mellencamp

Words & Music: John Mellencamps's Greatest Hits (2004)

Why I Love It

It seemed like every time a John Mellencamp video came on MTV back in the day, he had a new name. But whether it was John Cougar, John Cougar Mellencamp or just plain old John Mellencamp, his songs of the heartland resonated. In the 1980s, Indiana's favorite son could do no wrong. He charted hit after hit with what seemed like tremendous ease. When you listen to those hits on this collection, there isn't one of them that doesn't stand the test of time. What a gifted singer/songwriter.

Album Highlights

"Pink Houses," "Jack & Diane," "Authority Song"

Kendall on Chuck's Album of the Day

This is the kind of rock music that proved to be a big inspiration on the country music of the '80s that I grew up on as Mellencamp was an influence on everybody from Steve Earle to Garth Brooks. Considering Earle's disdain for Brooks - he once referred to Garth as the "anti-Hank" - it's a nod to Mellencamp's everyman appeal that he could reach such a broad base. I love his music, and this is a great way to get most of the goods in one place.


Woody Guthrie

Dust Bowl Ballads (2000)

Why I Love It

This year marks the 80th anniversary of the release of Woody Guthrie's "Dust Bowl Ballads," originally released in two three-disc 78 rpm albums.

They would prove to be some of the most influential recordings in history even serving as a touchstone for Bob Dylan as a vocalist and songwriter early in his career.

As for the subject material, Guthrie's own touchstone was John Steinbeck's "The Grapes of Wrath," and the ballads, collectively, represent an early example of a concept album, a format that would become more popular in the LP era 20 years later. Folk music may not have started here, but Guthrie's influence on the music that followed in the genre is undeniable influencing artists from Dylan and John Prine to Bruce Springsteen and, yes, John Mellencamp, who received the Woody Guthrie Prize just two years ago at an awards ceremony in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Album Highlights

"Talking Dust Bowl Blues," "Tom Joad (Parts 1 & 2)" and "Dust Pneumonia Blues"

Chuck on Kendall's Album of the Day

My two favorite things about Woody Guthrie's music are on full display on this album. One, his clever ways of turning a phrase. Two, how he laughs a little bit as he sings a lyric he especially likes. The guy was light years ahead of his time and is an America treasure.

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