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Time isn't on my side

Country Musings by Robert Loy, December 2006

I should know better by now. In fact, I do know better. I know they're lying when they try to lure me in, promising it'll be different this time. I'm completely onto their game.

But somehow or other I fall for it time and again.

No, I'm not talking about Sarah Evans inviting my wife and me over for another "quiet, wholesome" evening at home. I'm talking about those damn lists that media people love to make, especially at this time of year. The latest one to roil my blood pressure is Time Magazine's list of the 100 greatest and most influential records ever made. (If your systolic and diastolic are a little low, you can jump start them at http://www.time.com/time/2006/100albums/)

Even before I look at any of the specific albums, I can see Time has gotten off on the wrong foot with me. They've broken down the albums by decade and there's only 4 from the 1950's and nothing earlier than Frank Sinatra's "In The Wee Small Hours" from 1954. So what about Jimmie Rogers, the father of country music, and the Carter Family, the first family of country music? What about Louis Armstrong, who maybe didn't have a great nickname, but still was more influential than R.E.M. (who are on this list twice) and AC/DC and Metallica - unless by "influential" you mean "influencing crappy garage bands who will never know more than a couple of chords."

Well, all right, let's take short-sightedness and rock-centricity as a given and look at what is here.

While the usual suspects, "Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" and "Led Zeppelin IV," make me briefly think this is actually a list of the most overrated albums ever, I see there ain't much country music - 1 from the 2000s, 2 from the '90s, none from the '80s, 2 from the '70s, 2 from the '60s (although one of them is by Ray Charles, not primarily considered a country artist - and that's the kind of thing that gives me an insight into how these lists are compiled; they probably get close to the end, and somebody realizes there's nothing by Ray Charles and somebody else notes they could use another country album from the 60's and voila, 2 birds meet their demise with 1 LP ("Modern Sounds in Country Music").)

There's no Merle Haggard and no George Jones.

Let me repeat that now that you're up off the floor and fully conscious. No Haggard. No Jones. On a list of the greatest and most influential albums of the century!

So somehow country music, which has become arguably the dominant musical genre of modern times, and inarguably was one of the building blocks of rock and roll, did all this without the Hag or the Possum or the Singing Brakemen - despite the fact that you'd be hard-pressed to find any country singer worth his cheese grits who wouldn't list one or more of these people as influences.

How is that even freaking possible? All right, all right, I'm going to take a deep breath, try to relax. I know these lists are not meant to be definitive, they're just to fill pages or bandwidth during the holiday season. At best all they're meant to do is get readers thinking.

And it's working. Me, I'm thinking of canceling my subscription to Time.

The views in this column are those of Robert Loy and do not necessarily reflect those of CST.