Rolling Stone is one of the biggest music publications in the world. Founded in the mid-60s, the monthly magazine originally focused on rock music and featured the political writings of Hunter S. Thompson. Later, the publication broadened its range to cover pop culture, TV, actors, and the popular music of the time. Over the years, the publication has released several best-of lists that featured some of the most important albums ever pressed. Most recently the publication shared its list of the 100 greatest country albums of all time.
Country music as we know it today began back in 1927 with the Bristol Sessions. Jimmie Rodgers and The Carter Family became the first country stars. Since then, the genre has grown and changed significantly. It went from the Hillbilly Music of Appalachia to one of the most commercially viable genres in the United States. However, their list of the greatest country albums doesn’t go back quite that far.
As the list’s introduction points out, some of the greatest artists from the early days of country music didn’t press albums. Instead, folks like The Carter Family and Jimmie Rodgers released stacks of double-sided singles. It wasn’t until the 60s that country artists started focusing on releasing full-length albums.
With that being said, this list contains some killer records from country royalty from the past and present. You’ll find folks like Kenny Chesney, Bob Wills, Waylon Jennings, Taylor Swift, and many more. In short, the RS staff did their homework while compiling their picks for the greatest country album of all time.
Rolling Stone’s Pick for the Greatest Country Album Ever Pressed
As you’d expect, the top ten features albums from some of the greatest country artists to ever step into a studio. Merle Haggard, Randy Travis, Shania Twain, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, and other unsurprising names populate the top of the list.
Coming in at number one, though, is Dolly Parton’s Coat of Many Colors. As far as picks for the greatest country album of all time, this one is hard to argue with. Dolly is an icon. She has influenced countless artists. However, her influence doesn’t end with her music. Instead, Parton has shown us all what it means to be humble, loving, and generous.
In 1971, Dolly Parton was still pulling away from Porter Wagoner and trying to strike out on her own. This album really set her solo career in motion. It showcases her Appalachian roots through the bluegrass-tinged arrangements in most of the songs. Additionally, Dolly tells a touching story from her childhood in the title track. In many ways, the iconic album Coat of Many Colors is the origin story of one of the greatest artists in country music.
Both Dolly and Coat of Many Colors have aged like wine. It’d be hard to pick an album that was more important to country music as a whole than this one.