Discover the 10 Albums that changed Shelby Lynne’s life

By Mike Greenblatt

Singer-songwriter-guitarist-producer Shelby Lynne has traversed a long country-folk-pop-swing-rock-and-roll road since her startling 1989 “Sunrise” debut.

Shelby Lynne. Publicity photo/Lisa Van Hecke

Ten years into her career, she won a Grammy as Best New Artist for “I Am Shelby Lynne.” After her sublime 2008 Dusty Springfield tribute album, “Just A Little Lovin’,” she took matters into her own hands. For her 11th album, “Tears, Lies & Alibis,” she formed her own record label, upon which the current “Revelation Road” was released. On this most personal of all her albums, Lynne sang, wrote, produced and played every instrument on every song.

Long considered one of the most eclectic artists to emanate from of Nashville — she once shocked even her band by singing some James Brown while opening for Kenny Rogers on his annual Christmas tour — her Top 10 is as far-reaching as her artistry. “This was hard, Mike,” she said, “and they’re in no certain order.”

1. Miles Davis, “Kind of Blue”
When I hear it, I relax. Miles re-invented music every time he played.

2. John Lennon, Plastic Ono Band
It was my first introduction to John and his solo songwriting. “Mother” was unlike anything I had ever heard before.

3. Black Sabbath, Paranoid
Ozzy’s singing is stellar. What a voice! The record is recorded so well … clean. Of course, I love the original vinyl pressing best. Heavy metal had to scare people to death! No one had ever heard such a thing.

4. Willie Nelson, Willie And Family Live
My childhood: I can remember Daddy pulling up in the driveway in his pickup with this album on the front seat. He had been to a Mobile (Alabama) record store to buy it.

5. The Beatles, The Beatles (The White Album)
Well, since I have to limit my choices to only 10, I’m taking the Beatles album with the most tracks on it. I couldn’t live without “Julia.”

6. Joni Mitchell, Court and Spark
I was late to discover Joni, but when I listened to this vinyl, I was made aware of what female songwriting should be. Pure art. It’s like looking at a Monet painting with your ear bone.

7. Frank Sinatra, In The Wee Small Hours
I chose this album from The Chairman Of The Board because of the drama effect. I’m a fool for the swinging stuff — have to have a shot of that every so often — but having to make a choice, I simply went with that voice. Those Jack Daniels-soaked, Camel-scorched vocal cords aching in the melody of those tearjerkers. It closes down the joint every time.

8. Marvin Gaye, What’s Going On
If only we had someone today who could take charge as an artist, make a stand against what the record companies are so afraid of and just go with their gut about the world we live in today like this amazing man did with this record; we would have something special. “What’s Going On” is important: political in content but compassionate for the universe in its delivery. And, of course, off-the-charts sexy as hell.

9. Edith Piaf, Voice of the Sparrow: The Very Best of Edith Piaf
When she sang, you can feel her crying from inside. No matter what the language, she draws you in with the passion and acting out the lyric. It’s like hearing someone delivering their lines in the theater.

10. Django Reinhardt, Essential
When I discovered Django, I was entering into my swing phase, early ’90s. I fell in love with the music and the swing. The records he did with Stephane Grappelli were sublime. When I was doing the demos for my “Temptation” album, my fiddle player, Randy Howard, played so much like Stephane that I was in heaven. Randy died several years ago, and I can’t hear Django and Stephane play together without a tear in my heart.

 

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