Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time – #489: Steve Earle – Guitar Town (1986)

Justin’s Dad (see what I did there?) at his finest, this album is a country-rock treasure.


Some of the albums I’ve covered so far on this project have been less than “top 500 of all time” in my book, but this one fits the bill.  Often overlooked, Steve Earle has been making interesting and passionate music for over thirty years, and this one is my favorite effort of his. It surely sounds like it was recorded in the late 80s, but all the while has aged remarkably well.

Country throughout, with a rock bent and consistently strong songwriting, this album moves between a few different themes.  Youthful joy and ambition are found on the excellent title track and “Hillbilly Highway”, while heartbreak is found on “Goodbye’s All We’ve Got Left” (complete with Bob Seger-esque piano flourishes) and “Little Rock N’ Roller” (written for his son Justin), and downright despair takes over on “My Old Friend the Blues” and “Someday”.

If you only have four minutes, check out “Good Ol’ Boy (Getting’ Tough)”. This gem is the lament of a man who tried hard but came up short, with this chorus: “Getting’ tough, just my luck, I was born in the land of plenty now there ain’t enough; getting cold, I been told, well nowadays it just don’t pay to be a good ol’ boy”.  If you only have two minutes, well, I feel bad for you, that sounds stressful, check out “Think It Over”.  It has that classic “Bakersfield” Buck/Dwight sound, and is a real treat.

Worthy Tracks: Every GD one, folks.  All ten of ‘em.

Final Verdict: My only complaint is that this one should be considerably higher on the list.

Spotify album link: