OK so it’s kind of a lazy Saturday, so rather than getting into anything too deep or serious I’ll just throw a list at you. The following albums are not exactly my favorite albums, although they were my favorites at the time. And while they are all influential to me, it’s more than that. Each of these albums marked some kind of shift in my thinking, or were a first in some way. Anyway, take a gander at this list, and let me know your thoughts.


  1. Saturday Night Fever soundtrack – My parents had this soundtrack when I was really little. It was the first album that I was truly even aware of. I still love the Bee Gees, and not in that guilty pleasure kind of way. They were amazing songwriters, and this is probably the culmination of their craft.
  2. Van Halen – 1984. The first cassette I bought with my own money was Billy Joel’s Innocent Man. Great album. A few weeks later I bought 1984 by Van Halen. This would have been the first album I bought without parental consent. The cover showed a baby angel smoking cigarettes. My mom did what any sensible parent would do and threw it in the trash. I responded like any idiot kid would: I pulled the cassette out of the trash and hid it in another case. I’m not proud of it, but that was a pretty dang cool record.
  3. Yngwie Malmsteen – Trilogy. This might be the reason I play guitar. My brother borrowed my Georgia Satellites cassette (I’m pretty sure that was it) and couldn’t find it. As an appeasement he gave me Yngwie’s record. I was absolutely blown away – the lyrics sounded like they were straight out of a Tolkien book, and the guitar playing was just mesmerizing. I’ve never been able to play like Yngwie. Not even close. But he inspired me to pick it up.
  4. R.E.M. – Life’s Rich Pageant. I still remember the day I first heard these guys, riding in a car after school with friends on a perfect autumn afternoon. Putting this album on takes me back instantly. Way beyond any kind of influence, this album has been my musical center.
  5. Cinderella – Heartbreak Station. I was massively into heavy rock music in high school. My favorite songs were the ones where they were able to blend blues and country into the mix and still come out full on RAWK. This album probably perfected that blend better than any other.
  6. Rich Mullins – World As Best as I Can Remember It, Vol. 1. I didn’t start listening to Christian music until after high school. This was one of the very first I came across. And what a great one it was. I still pull out my Rich collection on occasion. This stuff is timeless.
  7. The Byrds – Sweetheart of the Rodeo. I discovered this one in college. It’s the nexus of my musical universe. Rock, country, folk, gospel, all collide here to brilliant results. Any other album is just a shuttle off the mothership.
  8. Toad the Wet Sprocket – Dulcinea. I didn’t get into the CD game until I worked in the music department at Circuit City. This was a promo record they played in the store. I was allowed to take it home at the end of the month, which was great except for one thing: I didn’t own a CD player. Good thing I worked at an electronics store. Bought a CD player the next day and ushered in the ’90’s.
  9. John Mayer – Room for Squares. Something happens when you turn 30. Music doesn’t impact you in that formational way anymore. So even though new music has come out that I’ve liked, nothing has truly impacted me since the early 2000’s.
  10. The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan – This album represents something to me that I can’t quite articulate. It feels like the past and the future all wrapped up into one. The simplicity of the guitar and the harmonica really speak to me right now, as well as the depth of the lyric. Maybe it’s an influence. Or maybe it’s just a memory of an influence.

Questions? Comments? Concerns? Use the comments section below to let me know!