Do you have a list of 10 albums that have changed your life? On this episode of Acoustic Tuesday, I’ll tell you about some of the most influential pieces of music I’ve encountered on my guitar journey.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: this episode is just going to be Tony ranting about some obscure guitarists. That’s not entirely wrong, but there’s something more I want you to get out of it.
Music is incredibly powerful. Whether you experience it at concerts, through a specific instrument, or in a casual conversation, music can change your entire mood in an instant.
But what’s the common denominator in all of these experiences? That music most likely had its start in an album. So, that’s why today’s episode is dedicated to the 10 albums that have changed my life.
As you go through this episode, be sure to let me know what some of your life-changing albums are! I’m excited to hear what’s impacted your guitar journey!
As always, you can catch Acoustic Tuesday at 10 am every Tuesday in these four places:
- Acoustic Life YouTube channel
- We Play Every Day Facebook Community
- Get show notes emailed directly to your inbox.
- Listen to audio-only below or in iTunes
https://amzn.to/32CAmt9 – Buy Preston Reed’s “Instrument Landing”
https://amzn.to/39fZNSC – Buy “Skip Hop and Wobble” by Jerry Douglas, Russ Barenberg, Edgar Meyer
https://amzn.to/2DXjCCt – Buy Tommy Emmanuel’s “Endless Road”
https://amzn.to/2CPYNsb – Buy Kaki King’s “Legs to Make Us Longer”
https://amzn.to/32y2Kwy – Buy John Fahey’s “Death Chants, Breakdowns, and Military Waltzes”
https://amzn.to/2Bm7Ocg – Buy Tony Rice’s “Church Street Blues”
https://amzn.to/2BgXQJ7 – Buy Infamous Stringdusters’ “Fork In The Road”
https://amzn.to/3fMNcc5 – Buy Kelly Joe Phelps’ “Tap the Red Cane Whirlwind”
https://amzn.to/3fMNpMp – Buy Mississippi John Hurt’s “1928 Sessions”
https://amzn.to/2CvsZZT – Buy Gregory Alan Isakov’s “The Weatherman”
https://amzn.to/3fOyDVj – Buy Dead Horses’ “My Mother the Moon”
Old and in the Way
Unplugged by Eric Clapton, made me want to play acoustic guitar
Yes, I could go for that album too!
Leo Kottke The Armadillo album. I’d never heard anything like it before.
Jason Isbell Southeastern. Awesome songwriting, a great guitar player.
An obvious answer but 6 & 12 String Guitars by Leo Kottke. This was my intro to real acoustic guitar playing and IMO is still the absolute high water mark for the instrument to this day. The performances and equally important the songwriting are unmatched by any other player I’ve heard… most guitarists are lucky if they write just one or two masterpieces and this album contains at least 4.
The John Hartford Aereo-plane album from 1971 was inspirational to me. Having seen him as a one-man band playing every acoustic instrument imaginable in a bluegrass format i could not help but be inspired. Sadly he has passed away but his legend lives on.
The self-titled “John Hammond” that I heard and bought the year it came out when I was in high school in 1963. That was a powerful introduction to blues since he played ‘white’ versions of songs by Robert Johnson, Mississippi John Hurt, Blind Lemon Jefferson, John Lee Hooker, and others. I still have that album, and I’m still blown away by his playing. I think he was 19 when he recorded this.
Chris Martin made his accountant carry his guitars? Premadonna
Leo Kottke – 6 and 12 string guitar
You said not “iconic” but Will Ackerman and the riffs from Shadow Fax both were the best inspiration for my on again, off again guitar journey. I had the Ackerman music (as well as most of the early Windham Hill discography). “What the Buzzard told Susanne” was what got me playing again, although I never got the song to the point, then, of wanting it heard under my fingers.
Hi Tony,I want to say a very beautiful show.your artist are very amazing and wonderful.i learn every week by listening to all of your artist.i really don’t listen to blue Grass much,I love it but I am more of a heavy metal girl.artist that I have been listening to alot this week is Jerry Cantrell solo albums.he writes beautiful music.a bit different from Alice in chains.i do think he is an underrated guitarist.i am really more of a singer then a guitar geek.but I do love my instruments alot.i love an album called rumors,by Fleetwood mac.they influenced me alot musically.and that album made me grow alot,musically.i love that album.as far as blue Grass goes I love all albums,they are fantastic.thank you, for a great show.😷🤪😁💌👍🎼🎸🎤👍
Bruce Cockburn Speechless
I would like to see some attention and analysis given to the early Rod Stewart records. Gasoline Alley and Every Picture Tells a Story are acoustic guitar heavy records, with some really interesting guitar work. They rock like crazy with predominantly acoustic guitar. It would also provide an opportunity to spotlight one of the great unsung acoustic guitarists Martin Quittenton.
Leo Kottke, Andy McKee, Paul Galbraith, Paul Dufour, Tommy Emmanuel- these are artists, not albums. The most impactful album in the Blue Grass genre was one by Rhonda Vincent. I found it on a cassette tape. I don’t know where it came from and the album’s name wasn’t on it. One of the songs was Kentucky Moon. I had to add blue grass to my list of likes after listening to this one. I appreciate your presentations, Tony.
Aerial Boundaries–Michael Hedges
Hello, Yes, I could compile 10 albums that changed my life. Easily. But unfortunately, none of them would be entirely Acoustic. There would be the obvious string of Folk-type Singer/Songwriters. And probably a Joe Pass album from back in the day that I couldn’t tell you the name of. But as far as what you have asked, I could not name 10 that were all acoustic. Take care all ! Be safe !
I think the album that may have left its mark on me is the John Fahey, Leo Kottke, Peter Lang album.
I took lots of lessons as a youngster and can fingerpick like crazy. I can sound just like John Fahey. What’s funny is l was once told l sounded as if l was influenced by John Fahey. This was before I’d ever heard of him. I love playing Sunflower River Blues. Or used to. I’m old and stagnant now.
I just got to the end. That’s an amazing collection. Thank you!
Acoustic guitar album influences? Leo Kottke’s “6 & 12 String Guitar”, and Michael Hedges’ “Ariel Boundaries” , of course. Also a self released album called “Yr” by Steve Tibbitts (who eventually wandered from wooden ambient to new-agey jazz on ECM), and an obscure release of Nashville session greats (Norman Blake, Tut Taylor, Vassar Clements, Sam Bush, Butch Robins, Jethro Burns) with British jazz bassist David Holland (who just prior to this recording, sessioned with Miles Davis on ‘In a Silent Way”)- the disc, from 1975, doesn’t have a name but is sometimes called “Sauerkraut n’ Solar Energy”. Finally, my bluegrass gateway drug album was probably “Aeroplane” by John Hartford.
One of my favorite acoustic instrumental albums is LARRY CORYELL & PHILIP CATHERINE Twin House. This is jazz so a bit different from what you’re discussing in today’s show.
Both super artists on all their albums!
What is the device Kaki King uses to raise the strings so that it has a dulcimer-like sound? Thanks.
Tony called it a Passarell bridge (I don’t know if I spelt it correctly).
Hey – Dawg music lead me to BLUEGRASS and Tony Rice. Love him so much. His Manzanita album
solidified my love for bluegrass and him. Bluegrass is amazing wonderful awesome music. It’s the
Friday Night in San Francisco
Steve Forbert’s “Little Stevie Orbit”
Have you heard slack key guitarist Jeff Peterson?
His music opens my heart and soul.
Take a listen…..he’s on classical guitar.
Driving and listening to him is a dream……..Seen him live, too.
The most inspirational guitar instrumental Album that I own is by Paul Adams entitled A view from the Plain.
But, the most inspirational album that I own is also likely iconic and is none other than The Innocent Age by Dan Fogelberg. For me , every song on that album is a pleasurable walk through nostalgia.
Dan Fogelberg – Home Free
Chet Atkins Caribbean Guitar- Yellow bird and others- Really influenced me
High Country Snows by Dan Fogleberg
Check out the cast on this record:
Hillman. Pedersen. Perkins. Doc Watson. String virtuoso David Grisman. Keyboardist David Briggs. Bassist Emory Gordy Jr. Drummer Russ Kunkel. Dobroists Barry (Byrd) Burton and Jerry Douglas. Fiddler Jim Buchanan. Michael Hanna on synthesizer. Harmonicist Charlie McCoy. With vocal backup by Hillman, Pedersen, Ricky Skaggs, Tracy Nelson, Vince Gill, Anita Ball and Diane Davidson.
Hey Tony, Thanks for all your hard work/another great show & the introduction to a new inspiration, or two 🙂
Raised on Rock, Jazz & a smattering of Folk, in 2006 I stumbled across this one album (by a Jazz Great) & thus was born my true love for the Acoustic Guitar.
In fact, on the strength of this one album, I purchased my first guitar + to this day carry the desire for a…must have, must own Baritone…Warning….there is a Santa Cruz Baritone, with my name on it!
One Guitar, One Mic…”Pat Metheny One Quiet Night”. Pull up a chair & a glass & dim the lights…
If this is not an album you have stumbled across yet…Please, Please, Please. take it for a spin….You will not be disappointed.
From Across The Pond.
6 & 12 String Guitars by Leo Kottke then later Aerial Boundaries by Michael Hedges.
Keola Beamer – Wooden Boat
Will soothe your soul and make you smile!
I stumbled across “5 riffs that made me” on YouTube that was featuring some guy named Jason Isbell. (I know I was late to the party and realized later that my favorite DBT songs were written by him). After some digging I came across his Southeastern album and man was i hooked. Incredible songwriter and guitarist. Discovering Jason isbell at this time was perfect bc it had been a while since a “newer artist” truly inspired me from a listening point of view. Also, by listening to his station on pandora I was introduced to so many great new artists including none other than Gregory Alan Isakov who’s weatherman album had a similar effect on me. This album had such a great effect on me, my guitar journey and music in general. Since then I have discovered countless “new” and “older” artists and bands that continue to inspire me and keep me reaching for my guitar!! Thanks Tony
Koerner, Gay, and Glover “Blues, Raggs and Hollers in the 60s
Strength in Numbers- Tulleride Sessions
Strength in Numbers – Tulleride Sessions
Edgar Winter Group – Album – They only come out at night
Tony: Please do a show or at least a segment, on Peter Green. Even though we are primarily an acoustc group as opposed to electric, this guy was so good he should not be overlooked. Tom Zborowski
Great show. My favorite bluegrass album :Old and in the way’, my favorite instrumental acoustic album is 6 and 12 string guitar by Leo Kotke.
Instrumental album : Sean Watkins – Let it Fall This one was recommended to me by a guitar teacher years ago. Really good!
Bluegrass: Church Street Blues My cousin recommended Tony Rice and this was the album that go me hooked on bluegrass. Good choice Tony!
Movie sound track: I Brother Where Art Thou This is my favorite movie.I’ve probably watched it 30+ times since high school (17 years ago). I love the soundtrack. This was my first exposure to bluegrass/old timey folk music. Really formative for my musical taste.
Leo kottke Armadillo
One album that changed my musical life was “Friday night in San Francisco ” Al Demeola, John McLaughlin & Paco Delucia 1981 I was blown away, these guys opened my eyes to the incredible beauty of the acoustic guitar. I had never heard playing on this level on acoustic before, still one of my favorites. If you haven’t listened to it check it out.
Cole S @ tac
Singer songwriter category: Simon & Garfunkel – Bridge over Troubled Water. Truly magical moment: watching (from my home in the Netherlands) the live broadcast of their famous Central Park concert: two voices plus one guitar and 500,000 people silently listening. Goosebumps!
Instrumental category: Harry Sacksioni – Optima Forma. Recommended to me by a guitar playing friend. Up to that time I had mostly been concentrating on electric guitar playing, but this one opened my eyes to the world of amazing guitar players on the acoustic guitar. I’ve seen him live several times, but his rendition of ‘Blue Rondo a la Turk’ absolutely blew me away and made me want to give up guitar playing all together: I was never going to achieve that level of playing, which he seemed to do without any effort…
Strength in Numbers- Tulleride Sessions
Ian Anderson -acoustic
Pete Townsend- acoustic
Anything Doc Watson
Papa john Creech
Bela and the Flecktones
Anything Jerry Douglas
And foremost— old n in the way
A guitar solo that has impacted my life was Slash from Guns and Roses during his solo in November Rain.
I’d like to comment on a couple of songwriters/performers who had a profound influence on me.
“Gord’s Gold” would be a representative album of Canada’s most prolific songwriter spanning the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and is still performing now well into his 80’s. Early songs such as “Early Morning Rain”, “The Way I Feel”, “The Long River Flows”, “Did She Mention My Name” and “The Pony Man” got me started. Later, “The Canadian Railroad Trilogy”, “The Wreck of the Edmond Fitzgerald”, and “Sundown” kept the fires burning. He relied heavily on his trusty 12 string guitar for most of his over 50 years of performing. His music book, “Gordon Lightfoot Anthology Volume 1” provided me with my first chords and finger picking patterns that still challenge. I have to say that it isn’t so much the guitar mastery but the message of so many of his great songs. I saw Gord perform in person at the University of Calgary in about 1967. In 1974 I was moving to Australia and the last song I heard on the car radio in Canada on the way to the airport was “Sundown”. When I climbed into a cab at the airport in Sydney about 3 days later the first song I heard on the radio in Australia was “Sundown”!
The second artist that has drawn me in over the years with one specific instrumental recording is Mason William’s “Classical Gas” which I hope to play in some fashion some day before my time runs out and the arthritis takes over!
Any Jason Isbell. Gram Parsons. Try either of the Small Glories albums.
Also, try Pharis and Jason Romero. Simple and beautiful.
Andy Statman.” Nashville Mornings and New York Nights.”Sublime bluegrass.
After the Ball…John Fahey
Hi Tony, if i had to pick one guitar player who’s inspired me to persist on the guitar, it’d be Pat Metheny.
B.t.w., we have something in common. We both are gung-ho on Gregory Isaakov. Keep coming back to that album.
Like you so aptly said, no pretensions/ego when it comes to this artist. Melts my heart.
Hello Tony, i have only been a member since March 2020 but loved the joy you show for the acoustic guitar. This episode reminded me of my journey of music and the guitar. I wanted to go back to where my first love music was sowed, The Beatles SGT Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band(yes i know i am that old!). That album blew me away and made me want to have music in my life which led me to listen to music and albums that i wanted to learn to play. I love the sound of a well play guitar( Big Eric Clapton fan) but its the acoustic guitar that i want to play and still play( sold my strat as i always picked up my Martin when i wanted to play.
Albums that made me a Music Geek hence a guitar geek, follow the theme
Cat Stevens – Tea for the Tillerman
Gordon Lightfoot – if you could read my mind
Bob Dylan – blood on the tracks
Shawn Phillips – Contributions( i fell in love with 12 string)
CSNY – debut
Jim Croce- Photographs and memories
The Eagles – on the border
JJ Cale – Naturally
murray mclauchlan Boulevard
America – America
Harry Chapin – on the road to kingdom come
I know these are older artists ( and i broke the 10 album rule 🙂 , but they made me want to play guitar and have music in my life. You Tony are helping me to achieve a dream of playing the songs that I love.
Hello Tony , I grew up on Country Music, My Dad Played Pedal Steel Guitar and when i was 10,11,12 i would love to watch and listen to the music , and it was so much fun. I asked Pop to show me how i can learn to Play, but Mom said NO because i don’t want you playing music in Bars and Night Clubs , so as i got older i did things on my own, and loved playing and learning Music. Bought a lot Music in my time growing up ,One day my best friend asked me if i had any of CSN Music and told oh gosh yes , those guys are great, well my Buddy gave an Album of Stephen Stills his first and it just blew me away, Loved how he made the Guitar sound with the Different types of tuning. I now keep 3 of my Acoustics tuned Differently . That album which is called Stephen Stills is the one that I believe had a big Impact on me. Oh and i Really do in joy watching your show and learning learning things from your Acoustic Tuesdays. Sherman
Guitar Recital John Williams sent me down the classical path.
Great show Tony! Albums that changed my life were two by Stanley Jordan. I have to say that his ‘Live in New York’ disc, and also the ‘Flying Home’ album, opened my horizons to instrumental guitar in a major way. An relative was a huge fan, and turned me on to recording from the 80’s. For those who don’t know, Stanley Jordan was a pioneer of what’s now known as finger-style guitar. While at Princeton, he played with jazz greats Benny Carter and Dizzy Gillespie, and it was there that he developed his aptly named ‘touch technique’. It’s a style of tapping (or hammering) on the fretboard that allow for melodies and chords all at once. His guitar work still resonates today.
Jesse Cook, Gravity
Carlos Santana, Moonflower
For Blues – Lightening Strikes by Lightin’ Hopkins. Lightin’ brings out the darkness and despair that spawned this music, brilliantly. He changed blues from a style of music to a real world phenomena for me with these songs.
For song writing, I must mention Vienna Teng’s “Waking Hours”. You won’t find much guitar on this album, but bear with me. With her intelligent lyrics, that she rhymes and meters with careful cleverness , she restored my faith and interest in modern popular music. Until I heard this album, I had composed and arranged music for steel string and classical guitar, but I did not write lyrics. She inspired me to write songs, with lyrics, of my own. To add one more note, the popular music world gained one of its most skillful pianist when she began performing her music.
Applegate & Co – Applegrass This was my first exposure to bluegrass.
I was driving to work in the 1980’s with a college radio station on and they played the song I Can’t Believe by Tony Trischka and Skyline. I was stunned by it and don’t recall ever having had quite the same experience. Amazing playing. On vinyl Stranded in the Moonlight and cd Ticket Back: A Retrospective.
The Circle album was definitely the one that got me into bluegrass. I thought flatpicking was a second rate style until I heard that. I found I could do a lot with three chords and the truth. That also got me into banjo picking which sort of crawdadded me back into fingerpicking on the guitar.
Hey Tony, for some reason I don’t remember I didn’t get around to seeing AT151 until today. I’ve been going to Nashville for over 20yrs and spending usually 6weeks there every year. I have many friends in the music business there and have visited all of your picks many times, and also some you didn’t mention eg the ‘Exit In’, ‘Grimey’s’ and ‘McKays’, the best secondhand music store I’ve ever been in!. There’s also a live music night every week in the Maxwell House Hotel, I think it’s either Thursdays or Fridays, my memory is nearly as old as the rest of me! Every time I go to Gruhn’s I end up bumping into someone famous, the last time, it was Don McLean. But the real reason I’m commenting here is because George Gruhn holds a webinar every Friday at 11am local time. It goes on for over an hour and you can email him questions and he’s happy to give you answers. I watch it every week, it’s like getting a master class from a true gentleman. Past webinars are available on YouTube, but it’s not like watching live and taking part.
Just discovered your show about eight months ago and have made it part of my weekly routine. Great stuff! I grew into music awareness in the 60’s and so folk music is, and has been very influential in my life. I loved to hear the stories told to the beautiful musical backgrounds, and that is what started me on my guitar journey. Even today, I find some of my folk licks slipping into things that I play or write. Somewhere along the line, I realized that the musical story isn’t always verbal, but is often told through the instrument. That being said, the following are some albums which have made a significant impact on my life:
– Kingston Trio “from the ‘hungry i'” and “Children of the Morning” – these actually started my musical journey.
– Gordon Lightfoot – especially his first album “Lightfoot”
– All things Peter, Paul and Mary
– All things early Dylan
– James Taylor – “Sweet Baby James”
– Joan Baez/5
– Dan Fogleberg – “High Country Snows” (bought this as a tape and wore it out. Still play “Go Down Easy” on a regular basis)
– The Eagles – “Greatest Hits” (IMHO, the greatest band ever)
– CSN&Y – “Deja Vu”
After I send this, I know I’ll dope-slap myself because there are dozens of albums that have made a mark on me.
– Bill Mize – “Sugarlands” and “Coastin’ ” (amazing fingerstyle guitarist)
Thanks for your show, Tony. Keep up the good work.
I will have to say that Jorma Kaukonen has influnced my passion for acoustic guitar. First was Hot Tuna doing “Hesitation Blues”. Then I discovered “My Blue Country Heart”. History and amazing acoustic guitar all in one. Blew me away.
Check out Trevor Gordon Hall, we went to see him at the Sellersville Theatre in PA. I bought his CD , en tel e chy and thought it was one of the best percussive, melodic al bums I’ve heard. The more you listen, the more you love, as with a lot of music out there.
Ugh. A week behind. Just catching up today. Another great show. Great music and I LOVED seeing your wedding photos. I feel like we’re all family, so these were special. Cheers!
Room to Move – John Mayall.
Love this activity. I first thought of Tommy by the Who. Then Jethro Tull, CSN, Sgt. Peppers and the White Album, Led Zepplin 1 and 2, Simon and Garfunkle’s Bridge over trouble waters, High Tide and Green Grass by the Rolling Stones, Jim Croce. I traded Red, White and Blue Grass for a John Fahey album. Think I got the best of that trade. Then it came to me. The song in my past that had a spiritual effect on me and my desire to create music. “Witchi Tai To” by Brewer and Shipley a group that was known for their hit “One toke over the line”, created a masterpiece in Witchi Tai To a peyote ritual chant. Fusing it with a timeless 70’s folk acoustic blend, It’s a song of life, love and togetherness. It gave me inspiration to play guitar and even though I put the guitar down, I’m back on track with TAC and Tony. My new goal is to learn the song with hammer-ons, pull-offs and tripulets. Besides, now I can play an ‘F’ bar chord!
Duane Eddy and the Rebels: Have Twangy Guitar Will Travel.
Leo Kottke “Armadillo’ One spring day in 1972 my best friend brought over two albums – and a controlled substance well paired for the event . One was Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks “Where’s the Money” and the second, Leo Kottke. Both changed my musical experience to this day. Before that, I had been listening to Mississippi John Hurt, and thought that was what you could do with an acoustical guitar. Boy was I wrong.
Nitty Gritty Dirt Band: Will The Circle Be Unbroken around 1971.
Enjoyed the show. It reminded me of the first time I heard Mike Cross. He was live from the Pier in Raleigh on WRDU. I was blown away and switched on my recorder and still have that on tape and have since burned it to CD. I don’t remember which album of his I bought 1st. It was probably Child Prodigy or the Bounty Hunter. Both are excellent, but still don’t bring out the life he brings to a live performance.
Stefan Grossman and John Renbourn
I was watching an older episode 10 albums that changed my life #153
An artist that influenced my playing: Davy Graham an english guitarist, Paul Simon plays one of his songs called Anji (not the Rolling Stones song)