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10 Albums That Changed My Life: Rita Wilson

Actress, film producer, artist and singer-songwriter Rita Wilson tells Goldmine about the 10 albums that changed her life.
Rita Wilson, publicity photo by Jim Jordan.

Rita Wilson, publicity photo by Jim Jordan.

Actress, film producer, artist and singer-songwriter Rita Wilson released her latest single, “I Wanna Kiss Bob Dylan,” this month. The song expresses gratitude for Bob Dylan as a songwriter, with Wilson's own painting gracing the single's cover. But for an artist who has already released four albums, while showing admiration for songwriters such as Joni Mitchell and Carole King, this Wilson song is deeper than a glancing tribute to Dylan.

Wilson explains, “I was going deep into Bob Dylan’s album Time Out of Mind. I was struck by what seemed to be the aftermath of a relationship that didn’t work out for him. He was so vulnerable and put himself out there. This is the album that gave us ‘Make You Feel My Love,’ as an example of his defenselessness. It got me thinking that when we are moved by music you fall in love with the person in the song. The person that is allowing you to see him or her. That doesn’t mean you’re necessarily falling in love with the actual person. And this thought that I wanted to kiss Bob Dylan came pouring out of me in a stream of consciousness, of wanting to kiss the illusion of what an artist creates, to kiss the soul of that person who lives in the ether somewhere between reality and inside our minds.” 

There have been a wealth of other musicians besides Bob Dylan that have influenced Rita Wilson over her long creative career. In fact, when asked about the 10 albums that changed her life, Time Out of Mind didn't make the cut. 

—Patrick Prince


Meet the Beatles

The Beatles
Meet The Beatles! 

Eight years old, Hollywood, California, waiting for Mary, our neighbor who worked at Capitol, to bring us the Beatles album. My sister, brother and I huddle around the hi-fi our father built, fighting over who got to hold the album. What perfect melodies, memorable lyrics, and those gorgeous faces staring back at you.


Traffic John Barleycorn Must Die

John Barleycorn Must Die 

This is when I felt that I was really growing up… a teenager, who could decide that a flute in a rock album worked. A rock album, but it had some scope to it. And that dark title… someone must die. Some of the best musicians appear on this album, like (drummer Jim) Capaldi. Driving in my girlfriend’s MG convertible down Sunset Boulevard feeling like we were hip and slightly alternative. I never felt hip or clued-in and this album made me feel like I was.


Bobbie Gentry Ode to Billie Joe

Bobbie Gentry
Ode to Billie Joe

To be honest, I didn’t really know the whole album, but I knew "Ode to Billie Joe." That song shook me to my core. What went down on that bridge? Why isn’t anyone saying what they really think? It’s like dysfunction on display through the sexy rasp of Bobbie Gentry. The drone of that song doesn’t let up like some sort of a swampy, recurring nightmare.


Joni Mitchell Blue

Joni Mitchell

Anyone who loves music and doesn’t love or understand this album, then hit yourself with this magazine's print edition, or spill your lukewarm coffee on your device. Because this is a masterpiece in every way. I still listen to this album regularly. Even if you just printed the lyrics and looked at them as poetry it would be enough. Joni was living in Laurel Canyon. I lived nearby separated by the longing that comes when you know there is only one Joni; that no one will ever be able to touch her.


Al Green Let’s Stay Together

Al Green
Let’s Stay Together 

Oh, Al, you started me on my appreciation for sexy music; a groove, those drums, horns, moans, desire, longing. On this album is one of the best covers of The Bee Gees’ "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart," a song tucked into my memory for when, in the not too distant future I would need to be consoled.


Marvin Gaye ‎– Midnight Love

Marvin GayeMidnight Love

"Sexual Healing"….whaaaat? Someone is using sex in a song title?! Just that alone…. “get up, get up, get up, let’s make love tonight.” Hold on, I need to get a fan and my vapors. Then you add, "Joy," to mix it up and get to dancing. And, "My Love Is Waiting," with some notes reminiscent of "Sexual Healing," but used in a different way.


Carole King Tapestry

Carole King

From writing hits for others, to expressing her own voice, literally and metaphorically, Carole King made us understand that songs with deep meaning could also have hooks and melody when the content was so personal. I would be driving down the freeway in L.A. and praying "It’s Too Late" would come on. This little white chick from N.Y. wrote "A Natural Woman"? I wanted to play the piano and write songs, and have the guts to wear my hair curly, and be an artist like Carole and Joni. This album created in me a longing to be a songwriter.


Linda Ronstadt Prisoner in Disguise

Linda Ronstadt
Prisoner in Disguise

Every song on this album is perfect. Linda’s voice is what we all wish we could sound like. Linda took songs she didn’t write and made you believe she had written them and that they came from personal experience. Her ability to choose material that suited her huge voice and heart cut to the core of my being. She covered songs others had done and blew them all away. Linda covered "I Will Always Love You." Prisoner in Disguise slays me and taught me that love doesn’t always work out the way you want it to. Heartbreak is all over this album.


Jackson Browne Late for the Sky

Jackson Browne
Late for the Sky

Jackson lived along my school bus route in Hollywood. When I got my driver’s license we would do a little drive-by in hopes of catching a glimpse of his perfectly cut and silky brown hair. But the true appeal were his songs and voice. The conversation he is having with a lover on "Fountain of Sorrow" (that title!) is so natural and truthful, painful. But he is singing it to me here. I wanted someone to write a song about me as he wrote for the woman in "For A Dancer." So many of the same musicians Ronstadt used are also present here.


Paul Simon Graceland

Paul Simon

This sums up one of the happiest periods of my life. The music here and my life at the time merged together like my Volkswagen Beetle and the Pacific Coast Highway. All those new sounds, beats, instruments and voices. Paul at his storytelling and music man finest. You put this album on and you cannot sit down (which is hard when you’re driving) and can’t stop singing. For most of 1990 this album was on rotation at our house. The atypical rhythms and arrangements still leave you with places to discover and explore. 

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