| music | 12 comments

In January of 2012 I began listening to every album on Rolling Stone's list 'The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time'. I finished in October. This is a summary of my experience and some observations I've made.

Back in January of this year I decided to tackle listening to every album on The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, a list published by Rolling Stone magazine in 2003. I predicted I would finish some time in October, and it turns out my prediction was spot on.

Why do something like this? I've always wanted to gain a better understanding of music across as many decades and genres as I could, and I think lists like this are a good starting point. I am no stranger to this kind of task—over the past few years I've gone through several others, although none as large as this. I am also lucky enough that my job permits me the freedom to listen to music through pretty much most of the day, otherwise I don't know if I would even be half way done by now. So I should say that even though I did listen to all 500 albums, it was mostly always as background music. I figured if the album was absolutely amazing, it would have made an impact by violently jolting me out of my work groove. That happened a few times.

The following is a list of lists that I've listened to over the past several years (they're mostly from Pitchfork):

I don't know much about how those were compiled, but the Rolling Stone list was decided "based on the votes of 273 rock musicians, critics, and industry figures, each of whom submitted a weighted list of 50 albums." (more details on Wikipedia). It should also be noted that the list has been revised a couple times, once in 2005 and again in May through July of this year (while I was about half way through—more on this hilarious fact later). Anyhow, I decided to start from #500 on the original list compiled in 2003:

  1. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, The Beatles
  2. Pet Sounds, The Beach Boys
  3. Revolver, The Beatles
  4. Highway 61 Revisited, Bob Dylan
  5. Rubber Soul, The Beatles
  6. What's Going On, Marvin Gaye
  7. Exile on Main Street, The Rolling Stones
  8. London Calling, The Clash
  9. Blonde on Blonde, Bob Dylan
  10. The Beatles ("The White Album"), The Beatles
  11. The Sun Sessions, Elvis Presley
  12. Kind of Blue, Miles Davis
  13. Velvet Underground and Nico, The Velvet Underground
  14. Abbey Road, The Beatles
  15. Are You Experienced?, The Jimi Hendrix Experience
  16. Blood on the Tracks, Bob Dylan
  17. Nevermind, Nirvana
  18. Born to Run, Bruce Springsteen
  19. Astral Weeks, Van Morrison
  20. Thriller, Michael Jackson
  21. The Great Twenty-Eight, Chuck Berry
  22. Plastic Ono Band, John Lennon
  23. Innervisions, Stevie Wonder
  24. Live at the Apollo (1963), James Brown
  25. Rumours, Fleetwood Mac
  26. The Joshua Tree, U2
  27. King of the Delta Blues Singers, Vol. 1, Robert Johnson
  28. Who's Next, The Who
  29. Led Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin
  30. Blue, Joni Mitchell
  31. Bringing It All Back Home, Bob Dylan
  32. Let It Bleed, The Rolling Stones
  33. Ramones, Ramones
  34. Music From Big Pink, The Band
  35. The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars, David Bowie
  36. Tapestry, Carole King
  37. Hotel California, The Eagles
  38. The Anthology, 1947 - 1972, Muddy Waters
  39. Please Please Me, The Beatles
  40. Forever Changes, Love
  41. Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols, The Sex Pistols
  42. The Doors, The Doors
  43. The Dark Side of the Moon, Pink Floyd
  44. Horses, Patti Smith
  45. The Band, The Band
  46. Legend, Bob Marley and the Wailers
  47. A Love Supreme, John Coltrane
  48. It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, Public Enemy
  49. At Fillmore East, The Allman Brothers Band
  50. Here's Little Richard, Little Richard
  51. Bridge Over Troubled Waters, Simon and Garfunkel
  52. Greatest Hits, Al Green
  53. The Birth of Soul: The Complete Atlantic Rhythm and Blues Recordings, 1952 - 1959, Ray Charles
  54. Electric Ladyland, The Jimi Hendrix Experience
  55. Elvis Presley, Elvis Presley
  56. Songs in the Key of Life, Stevie Wonder
  57. Beggars Banquet, The Rolling Stones
  58. Trout Mask Replica, Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band
  59. Meet the Beatles, The Beatles
  60. Greatest Hits, Sly and the Family Stone
  61. Appetite for Destruction, Guns n' Roses
  62. Achtung Baby, U2
  63. Sticky Fingers, The Rolling Stones
  64. Phil Spector, Back to Mono (1958 - 1969), Various Artists
  65. Moondance, Van Morrison
  66. Led Zeppelin IV, Led Zeppelin
  67. The Stranger, Billy Joel
  68. Off the Wall, Michael Jackson
  69. Superfly, Curtis Mayfield
  70. Physical Graffiti, Led Zeppelin
  71. After the Gold Rush, Neil Young
  72. Purple Rain, Prince
  73. Back in Black, AC/DC
  74. Otis Blue, Otis Redding
  75. Led Zeppelin II, Led Zeppelin
  76. Imagine, John Lennon
  77. The Clash, The Clash
  78. Harvest, Neil Young
  79. Star Time, James Brown
  80. Odessey and Oracle, The Zombies
  81. Graceland, Paul Simon
  82. Axis: Bold as Love, The Jimi Hendrix Experience
  83. I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You, Aretha Franklin
  84. Lady Soul, Aretha Franklin
  85. Born in the U.S.A., Bruce Springsteen
  86. Let It Be, The Beatles
  87. The Wall, Pink Floyd
  88. At Folsom Prison, Johnny Cash
  89. Dusty in Memphis, Dusty Springfield
  90. Talking Book, Stevie Wonder
  91. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Elton John
  92. 20 Golden Greats, Buddy Holly
  93. Sign 'o' the Times, Prince
  94. Bitches Brew, Miles Davis
  95. Green River, Creedence Clearwater Revival
  96. Tommy, The Who
  97. The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan, Bob Dylan
  98. This Year's Model, Elvis Costello
  99. There's a Riot Goin' On, Sly and the Family Stone
  100. In the Wee Small Hours, Frank Sinatra
  101. Fresh Cream, Cream
  102. Giant Steps, John Coltrane
  103. Sweet Baby James, James Taylor
  104. Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music, Ray Charles
  105. Rocket to Russia, Ramones
  106. Portrait of a Legend 1951 - 1964, Sam Cooke
  107. Hunky Dory, David Bowie
  108. Aftermath, The Rolling Stones
  109. Loaded, The Velvet Underground
  110. The Bends, Radiohead
  111. Court and Spark, Joni Mitchell
  112. Disraeli Gears, Cream
  113. The Who Sell Out, The Who
  114. Out of Our Heads, The Rolling Stones
  115. Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs, Derek and the Dominos
  116. At Last, Etta James
  117. Sweetheart of the Rodeo, The Byrds
  118. Stand!, Sly and the Family Stone
  119. The Harder They Come Original Soundtrack, Various Artists
  120. Raising Hell, Run-DMC
  121. Moby Grape, Moby Grape
  122. Pearl, Janis Joplin
  123. Catch a Fire, Bob Marley and the Wailers
  124. Younger Than Yesterday, The Byrds
  125. Raw Power, The Stooges
  126. Remain in Light, Talking Heads
  127. If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears, The Mamas and the Papas
  128. Marquee Moon, Television
  129. 40 Greatest Hits, Hank Williams
  130. Paranoid, Black Sabbath
  131. Saturday Night Fever Original Soundtrack, Various Artists
  132. The Wild, the Innocent and the E Street Shuffle, Bruce Springsteen
  133. Ready to Die, The Notorious B.I.G.
  134. Slanted and Enchanted, Pavement
  135. Greatest Hits, Elton John
  136. Tim, The Replacements
  137. The Chronic, Dr. Dre
  138. Rejuvenation, The Meters
  139. All That You Can't Leave Behind, U2
  140. Parallel Lines, Blondie
  141. Live at the Regal, B.B. King
  142. Phil Spector, A Christmas Gift for You, Various Artists
  143. Gris-Gris, Dr. John
  144. Straight Outta Compton, N.W.A
  145. Aja, Steely Dan
  146. Surrealistic Pillow, Jefferson Airplane
  147. Dreams to Remember: The Otis Redding Anthology, Otis Redding
  148. Deja Vu, Crosby Stills Nash and Young
  149. Houses of the Holy, Led Zeppelin
  150. Santana, Santana
  151. Darkness on the Edge of Town, Bruce Springsteen
  152. The B-52's, The B-52's
  153. Moanin' in the Moonlight, Howlin' Wolf
  154. The Low End Theory, A Tribe Called Quest
  155. Pretenders, The Pretenders
  156. Paul's Boutique, Beastie Boys
  157. Closer, Joy Division
  158. Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy, Elton John
  159. Alive, Kiss
  160. Electric Warrior, T. Rex
  161. The Dock of the Bay, Otis Redding
  162. OK Computer, Radiohead
  163. 1999, Prince
  164. Heart Like a Wheel, Linda Ronstadt
  165. Let's Get It On, Marvin Gaye
  166. Imperial Bedroom, Elvis Costello
  167. Master of Puppets, Metallica
  168. My Aim Is True, Elvis Costello
  169. Exodus, Bob Marley
  170. Live at Leeds, The Who
  171. The Notorious Byrd Brothers, The Byrds
  172. Every Picture Tells a Story, Rod Stewart
  173. Something/Anything?, Todd Rundgren
  174. Desire, Bob Dylan
  175. Close to You, The Carpenters
  176. Rocks, Aerosmith
  177. One Nation Under a Groove, Parliament/Funkadelic
  178. Greatest Hits, The Byrds
  179. The Anthology 1961 - 1977, Curtis Mayfield and the Impressions
  180. The Definitive Collection, Abba
  181. The Rolling Stones, Now!, The Rolling Stones
  182. Natty Dread, Bob Marley and the Wailers
  183. Fleetwood Mac, Fleetwood Mac
  184. Red Headed Stranger, Willie Nelson
  185. The Stooges, The Stooges
  186. Fresh, Sly and the Family Stone
  187. So, Peter Gabriel
  188. Buffalo Springfield Again, Buffalo Springfield
  189. Happy Trails, Quicksilver Messenger Service
  190. From Elvis in Memphis, Elvis Presley
  191. Funhouse, The Stooges
  192. The Gilded Palace of Sin, The Flying Burrito Brothers
  193. Dookie, Green Day
  194. Transformer, Lou Reed
  195. Bluesbreakers, John Mayall With Eric Clapton
  196. Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era 1965 - 1968, Various Artists
  197. Murmur, R.E.M.
  198. The Best of, Little Walter
  199. Highway to Hell, AC/DC
  200. The Downward Spiral, Nine Inch Nails
  201. Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme, Simon and Garfunkel
  202. Bad, Michael Jackson
  203. Wheels of Fire, Cream
  204. Dirty Mind, Prince
  205. Abraxas, Santana
  206. Tea for the Tillerman, Cat Stevens
  207. Ten, Pearl Jam
  208. Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, Neil Young With Crazy Horse
  209. Wish You Were Here, Pink Floyd
  210. Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain, Pavement
  211. Tattoo You, The Rolling Stones
  212. Proud Mary: The Best of Ike and Tina Turner, Ike and Tina Turner
  213. New York Dolls, New York Dolls
  214. Bo Diddley/Go Bo Diddley, Bo Diddley
  215. Two Steps From the Blues, Bobby Bland
  216. The Queen Is Dead, The Smiths
  217. Licensed to Ill, Beastie Boys
  218. Look-Ka Py Py, The Meters
  219. Loveless, My Bloody Valentine
  220. New Orleans Piano, Professor Longhair
  221. War, U2
  222. The Neil Diamond Collection, Neil Diamond
  223. Howlin' Wolf, Howlin' Wolf
  224. Nebraska, Bruce Springsteen
  225. The Complete Hank Williams, Hank Williams
  226. Doolittle, Pixies
  227. Paid in Full, Eric B. and Rakim
  228. Toys in the Attic, Aerosmith
  229. Nick of Time, Bonnie Raitt
  230. A Night at the Opera, Queen
  231. The Kink Kronikles, The Kinks
  232. Mr. Tambourine Man, The Byrds
  233. Bookends, Simon and Garfunkel
  234. The Ultimate Collection, Patsy Cline
  235. Mr. Excitement!, Jackie Wilson
  236. The Who Sings My Generation, The Who
  237. Like a Prayer, Madonna
  238. Can't Buy a Thrill, Steely Dan
  239. Let It Be, The Replacements
  240. Run-DMC, Run-DMC
  241. Black Sabbath, Black Sabbath
  242. The Jerry Lee Lewis Anthology: All Killer No Filler!, Jerry Lee Lewis
  243. Freak Out!, The Mothers of Invention
  244. Live Dead, Grateful Dead
  245. Bryter Layter, Nick Drake
  246. The Shape of Jazz to Come, Ornette Coleman
  247. Automatic for the People, R.E.M.
  248. Reasonable Doubt, Jay-Z
  249. Low, David Bowie
  250. The River, Bruce Springsteen
  251. The Otis Redding Dictionary of Soul, Otis Redding
  252. Metallica, Metallica
  253. Trans-Europe Express, Kraftwerk
  254. Whitney Houston, Whitney Houston
  255. The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society, The Kinks
  256. The Velvet Rope, Janet Jackson
  257. Stardust, Willie Nelson
  258. American Beauty, Grateful Dead
  259. Crosby Stills and Nash, Crosby Stills and Nash
  260. Buena Vista Social Club , Buena Vista Social Club
  261. Tracy Chapman, Tracy Chapman
  262. Workingman's Dead, Grateful Dead
  263. The Genius of Ray Charles, Ray Charles
  264. Child Is Father to the Man, Blood, Sweat and Tears
  265. Cosmo's Factory, Creedence Clearwater Revival
  266. Quadrophenia, The Who
  267. There Goes Rhymin' Simon, Paul Simon
  268. Psycho Candy, The Jesus and Mary Chain
  269. Some Girls, The Rolling Stones
  270. The Beach Boys Today!, The Beach Boys
  271. Going to a Go-Go, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles
  272. Nightbirds, Labelle
  273. The Slim Shady LP, Eminem
  274. Mothership Connection, Parliament
  275. Rhythm Nation 1814, Janet Jackson
  276. Anthology of American Folk Music, Harry Smith, ed.
  277. Aladdin Sane, David Bowie
  278. The Immaculate Collection, Madonna
  279. My Life, Mary J. Blige
  280. Folk Singer, Muddy Waters
  281. Can't Get Enough, Barry White
  282. The Cars, The Cars
  283. Five Leaves Left, Nick Drake
  284. Music of My Mind, Stevie Wonder
  285. I'm Still in Love With You, Al Green
  286. Los Angeles, X
  287. Anthem of the Sun, Grateful Dead
  288. Something Else by the Kinks, The Kinks
  289. Call Me, Al Green
  290. Talking Heads: 77, Talking Heads
  291. The Basement Tapes, Bob Dylan and the Band
  292. White Light / White Heat, The Velvet Underground
  293. Greatest Hits, Simon and Garfunkel
  294. Kick Out the Jams, MC5
  295. Meat Is Murder, The Smiths
  296. We're Only In It For the Money, The Mothers of Invention
  297. Weezer (Blue Album), Weezer
  298. Master of Reality, Black Sabbath
  299. Coat of Many Colors, Dolly Parton
  300. Fear of a Black Planet, Public Enemy
  301. John Wesley Harding, Bob Dylan
  302. The Marshall Mathers LP, Eminem
  303. Grace, Jeff Buckley
  304. Car Wheels on a Gravel Road, Lucinda Williams
  305. Odelay, Beck
  306. Songs for Swingin' Lovers, Frank Sinatra
  307. Avalon, Roxy Music
  308. The Sun Records Collection, Various Artists
  309. Nothing's Shocking, Jane's Addiction
  310. BloodSugarSexMagik, Red Hot Chili Peppers
  311. MTV Unplugged in New York, Nirvana
  312. The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, Lauryn Hill
  313. Damn the Torpedoes, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
  314. The Velvet Underground, The Velvet Underground
  315. Surfer Rosa, Pixies
  316. Rock Steady, No Doubt
  317. The Eminem Show, Eminem
  318. Back Stabbers, The O'Jays
  319. Burnin', Bob Marley and the Wailers
  320. Pink Moon, Nick Drake
  321. Sail Away, Randy Newman
  322. Ghost in the Machine, The Police
  323. Station to Station, David Bowie
  324. The Very Best of Linda Ronstadt, Linda Ronstadt
  325. Slowhand, Eric Clapton
  326. Disintegration, The Cure
  327. Jagged Little Pill, Alanis Morissette
  328. Exile in Guyville, Liz Phair
  329. Daydream Nation, Sonic Youth
  330. In the Jungle Groove, James Brown
  331. Tonight's the Night, Neil Young
  332. Help!, The Beatles
  333. Shoot Out the Lights, Richard and Linda Thompson
  334. Wild Gift, X
  335. Squeezing Out Sparks, Graham Parker
  336. Superunknown, Soundgarden
  337. Aqualung, Jethro Tull
  338. Cheap Thrills, Big Brother and the Holding Company
  339. The Heart of Saturday Night, Tom Waits
  340. Damaged, Black Flag
  341. Play, Moby
  342. Violator, Depeche Mode
  343. Bat Out of Hell, Meat Loaf
  344. Berlin, Lou Reed
  345. Stop Making Sense, Talking Heads
  346. 3 Feet High and Rising, De La Soul
  347. The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, Pink Floyd
  348. At Newport 1960, Muddy Waters
  349. Roger the Engineer (a.k.a. Over Under Sideways Down), The Yardbirds
  350. Rust Never Sleeps, Neil Young and Crazy Horse
  351. Brothers in Arms, Dire Straits
  352. 52nd Street, Billy Joel
  353. Having a Rave Up With the Yardbirds, The Yardbirds
  354. 12 Songs, Randy Newman
  355. Between the Buttons, The Rolling Stones
  356. Sketches of Spain, Miles Davis
  357. Honky Chateau, Elton John
  358. Singles Going Steady, Buzzcocks
  359. Stankonia, Outkast
  360. Siamese Dream, The Smashing Pumpkins
  361. Substance, New Order
  362. L.A. Woman, The Doors
  363. Ray of Light, Madonna
  364. American Recordings, Johnny Cash
  365. Louder Than Bombs, The Smiths
  366. Mott, Mott the Hoople
  367. Is This It, The Strokes
  368. Rage Against the Machine, Rage Against the Machine
  369. Reggatta de Blanc, The Police
  370. Volunteers, Jefferson Airplane
  371. Siren, Roxy Music
  372. Late for the Sky, Jackson Browne
  373. Post, Bjork
  374. The Eagles, The Eagles
  375. The Ultimate Collection (1948 - 1990), John Lee Hooker
  376. (What's the Story) Morning Glory?, Oasis
  377. CrazySexyCool, TLC
  378. Funky Kingston, Toots and the Maytals
  379. Greetings from Asbury Park, Bruce Springsteen
  380. Sunflower, The Beach Boys
  381. Modern Lovers, Modern Lovers
  382. More Songs About Buildings and Food, Talking Heads
  383. A Quick One (Happy Jack), The Who
  384. Pyromania, Def Leppard
  385. Pretzel Logic, Steely Dan
  386. Enter the Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers, Wu-Tang Clan
  387. Country Life, Roxy Music
  388. A Hard Day's Night, The Beatles
  389. The End of the Innocence, Don Henley
  390. Elephant, The White Stripes
  391. The Pretender, Jackson Browne
  392. Willy and the Poor Boys, Creedence Clearwater Revival
  393. Good Old Boys, Randy Newman
  394. For Your Pleasure, Roxy Music
  395. Blue Lines, Massive Attack
  396. Eliminator, ZZ Top
  397. Rain Dogs, Tom Waits
  398. Anthology, The Temptations
  399. Californication, Red Hot Chili Peppers
  400. Illmatic, Nas
  401. (Pronounced Leh-Nerd Skin-Nerd), Lynyrd Skynyrd
  402. Dr. John's Gumbo, Dr. John
  403. Radio City, Big Star
  404. Sandinista!, The Clash
  405. Rid of Me, PJ Harvey
  406. I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got, Sinead O' Connor
  407. Strange Days, The Doors
  408. Time Out of Mind, Bob Dylan
  409. 461 Ocean Boulevard, Eric Clapton
  410. Pink Flag, Wire
  411. Double Nickels on the Dime, Minutemen
  412. Mezzanine, Massive Attack
  413. Beauty and the Beat, Go-Go's
  414. Greatest Hits, James Brown
  415. Van Halen , Van Halen
  416. Mule Variations, Tom Waits
  417. Boy, U2
  418. Band on the Run, Wings
  419. Dummy, Portishead
  420. With the Beatles, The Beatles
  421. The "Chirping" Crickets, Buddy Holly and the Crickets
  422. The Best of the Girl Groups, Volumes 1 and 2, Various Artists
  423. Greatest Hits, The Mamas and the Papas
  424. King of the Delta Blues Singers, Vol. 2, Robert Johnson
  425. Changesone, David Bowie
  426. The Battle of Los Angeles, Rage Against the Machine
  427. Presenting the Fabulous Ronettes Featuring Veronica, The Ronettes
  428. Kid A, Radiohead
  429. Grievous Angel, Gram Parsons
  430. At Budokan, Cheap Trick
  431. Anthology, Diana Ross and the Supremes
  432. Sleepless, Peter Wolf
  433. Another Green World, Brian Eno
  434. Outlandos D'Amour, The Police
  435. To Bring You My Love, PJ Harvey
  436. Here Come the Warm Jets, Brian Eno
  437. All Things Must Pass, George Harrison
  438. #1 Record, Big Star
  439. In Utero, Nirvana
  440. Sea Change, Beck
  441. Tragic Kingdom, No Doubt
  442. Boys Don't Cry, The Cure
  443. Live at the Harlem Square Club, 1963, Sam Cooke
  444. Criminal Minded, Boogie Down Productions
  445. Rum Sodomy and the Lash, The Pogues
  446. Suicide, Suicide
  447. Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!, Devo
  448. In Color, Cheap Trick
  449. The World Is a Ghetto, War
  450. Fly Like an Eagle, Steve Miller Band
  451. Back in the USA, MC5
  452. Music, Madonna
  453. Ritual de lo Habitual, Jane's Addiction
  454. Getz/Gilberto, Stan Getz and Joao Gilberto
  455. Synchronicity, The Police
  456. Third/Sister Lovers, Big Star
  457. For Everyman, Jackson Browne
  458. John Prine, John Prine
  459. Strictly Business, EPMD
  460. Love It to Death, Alice Cooper
  461. How Will the Wolf Survive?, Los Lobos
  462. Here, My Dear, Marvin Gaye
  463. Tumbleweed Connection, Elton John
  464. The Blueprint, Jay-Z
  465. Golden Hits, The Drifters
  466. Live Through This, Hole
  467. Love and Theft, Bob Dylan
  468. Elton John, Elton John
  469. Metal Box, Public Image Ltd.
  470. Document, R.E.M.
  471. Heaven Up Here, Echo and the Bunnymen
  472. Hysteria, Def Leppard
  473. A Rush of Blood to the Head, Coldplay
  474. Live in Europe, Otis Redding
  475. Tunnel of Love, Bruce Springsteen
  476. The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, The Paul Butterfield Blues Band
  477. The Score, Fugees
  478. Radio, LL Cool J
  479. I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight, Richard and Linda Thompson
  480. Faith, George Michael
  481. The Smiths, The Smiths
  482. Armed Forces, Elvis Costello and the Attractions
  483. Life After Death, The Notorious B.I.G.
  484. Branded Man, Merle Haggard
  485. All Time Greatest Hits, Loretta Lynn
  486. Maggot Brain, Funkadelic
  487. Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, The Smashing Pumpkins
  488. Voodoo, D'Angelo
  489. Guitar Town, Steve Earle
  490. Entertainment!, Gang of Four
  491. All the Young Dudes, Mott the Hoople
  492. Vitalogy, Pearl Jam
  493. That's the Way of the World, Earth, Wind and Fire
  494. She's So Unusual, Cyndi Lauper
  495. New Day Rising, Husker Du
  496. Destroyer, Kiss
  497. Yo! Bum Rush the Show, Public Enemy
  498. Tres Hombres, ZZ Top
  499. Born Under a Bad Sign, Albert King
  500. Touch, Eurythmics

The list covers just about every genre imaginable, including rock (and its many, many subgenres), pop, funk, punk, soul, hip-hop, R&B, folk, jazz, blues, country, electronica, reggae, and metal. It includes recordings dating as far back as the 1940s and all the way into the mid 2000s. If I could sum up the entire experience in one word, it would have to be "interesting". I certainly learned a lot, and I do not regret any of it. One of the most surprising things I've taken away from the whole experience is a greater knowledge of just how much modern music has been influenced by previous generations (hint: a buttload). The hardest albums to listen to were the ones that were innovative for their time, but have since been imitated to death (Prince, Van Halen, and many early hip-hop albums immediately come to mind).

I will refrain from attempting to go into detail about each and every album because I don't think anyone would read it, and I think my experience would greatly differ from anyone else's if they were to attempt the same thing. Instead, I'll share some neat observations I came across and statistics regarding the list itself.

I'll start by listing the artists with the most albums, taken from the Wikipedia article:

  • The Beatles (10 albums)
  • Bob Dylan (10 albums)
  • The Rolling Stones (10 albums)
  • Bruce Springsteen (8 albums)
  • The Who (7 albums)
  • David Bowie (5 albums)
  • Elton John (5 albums)
  • Bob Marley and The Wailers (5 albums)
  • Led Zeppelin (5 albums)
  • Radiohead (5 albums)
  • U2 (5 albums)

Do you see Hank Williams on that list? I don't. Despite Hank Williams only having two albums on the list, one of them just happens to be a 10 disc compilation (yes, TEN). That means if we were only counting number of songs, Hank Williams charts in at 265 total. That's only three songs short of the total number by The Beatles (167) and Bob Dylan (101) combined! Even if you were to go by number of hours, Hank Williams has a total of 11 hours and 19 minutes of music on this list, compared to 7:23 by The Beatles and 8:17 by Bob Dylan. That's a lotta Hank. Rember earlier how I said they revised the list just this past summer? Well guess what 10 disc compilation album got removed. Yup. That's a lotta Hank for nothin'. 

A total of 38 albums were removed in the latest revision, and 38 new ones were added to the list. A full summary of the revisions made are available here. Will I listen to the new 38 additions? Eventually, but I need a break.

So just how many songs are there in a list of 500 albums? My current playlist contains 7,279 total. That's two weeks, four days, and 13 hours of music in total. It doesn't sound like a lot, considering it took me 10 months to complete, but at the same time it actually does sound like a hell of a lot. Finally, I have to admit that I did not legally purchase all 500 albums; I owned 46 of them already, before beginning, but the remaining 454 were downloaded. If somebody tried to purchase all 500 albums, it would cost between $6,000 and $7,500, assuming each album was between $12 and $15 (some are probably a little more, some a little less), which is a pretty hefty investment. In the end, I will remain comfortable knowing that my vinyl wishlist has grown significantly.

12 comments

Playcount Zero or Random Cross Fadeback Wednesdays are nice challenges or musical adventures but this one is a monster and I'm happy to hear you finished it off. The bit about Hank Williams being dropped from the list is a little hilarious, but it's the only time you would have listened to him otherwise (probably) so I guess that only adds to the "interesting" experience.

I am also happy to hear that you have finished off this monster list. Being your wife and house-mate, I involuntary found myself listening to a lot of this list with you as well though I can't say that I enjoyed all of the musical selections quite as much as you did! However, it was quite the musical journey and I'm glad you got something from it.

I think that the best part is now you are reprogrammed to think what The Man wants you to think about music. It's also funny because they only even published that list so that The Industry would make another $7,500 from every chump who forgot that old music is for fools. You skirted that at least.

Get back to Skrillex and re-establish yourself as a human, good sir.

What was your fave album of these? Who was your favorite artist that you didn't already know or appreciate?

There's a lot to choose from, and it's pretty hard to pick a favorite especially considering a lot of it depends on your mood at the time. I'm sure there were plenty of albums I didn't fully appreciate because I didn't feel *in the mood* for that type of music.

A few from the top of my head that I hadn't heard before this list:

PJ Harvey - To Bring You My Love (1995) - A pretty much perfect 1990s alternative rock album produced by Flood that I had never even heard of before.

The B-52s - Self Titled (1979) - Never knew these guys were so bizarre, plus it has the song Rock Lobster on it.

Bob Dylan - Desire (1976) - Has my now all time favorite Dylan song, Isis.

Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era, 1965-1968 - A pretty great 5 disc collection of unheard-of psychedelic rock songs

Plus a bunch more I am probably forgetting. I really enjoyed a lot of the older blues stuff, like Howlin' Wolf, too.

Jeff,

Congratulations on finishing the adventure. I am in the middle of the same project. We started it for similar reasons, have uncovered similar gems (PJ Harvey and the Nuggets albums were two of my favorite- to date) finds. My wife does not know I am blogging it as I go....her comments would be similar - but not as supportive as those from yours.

I enjoyed your post. If you are curious, apologies for the self-promotion, here is where I am on the list:

http://mygreatmusicdebate.wordpress.com/2013/12/…

Would welcome your thoughts,

Terry

Very nice! I am impressed at your motivation to write a little bit about each and every album—a task I decided to avoid from the very starts. And it sounds like you are also purchasing each album? Impressive

Spotify has been my friend. Though I am $200 into this with the albums not on Spotify.

How did you complete the journey?

This is fantastic - Thank you Jeff for doing this - How does one get a copy of this collage ? love to put it on my wall - Great conversation piece - Again thank you

Hey, Just saw this blog. I am doing both lists with a friend. We started with the new 37 first, then did the original list. I have 10 left and he has 4, we are meeting up in Chicago next Wednesday to do the top 3 together. I imagine I am going to be pretty excited to hear the St. Peppers Reprise.

We even did the full Hank Williams albums...it wasn't easy. And the Beach Boys sessions may have been even harder than that. Have you done the stats on ALL the songs from both lists? I am wondering how much of my life I have spent on this.

Thanks for this. I just started the same project and it's really kind of fun. Did you really listen to every album all the way through without just going crazy and skipping it? Even KISS?

Anne, yes I listened to every song from every album. No skipping at all. Some albums were a real chore!

The collage is good, but it ain't all of them! There's some duplicates.