Inspired by Blue Kitchen’s “Top 10 Movies to Drink Bourbon to,” (http://www.bluekitchen.net/top10bourbonmovies.html) Bourbon for Beginners presents the best musical acts to sip a good value bourbon with. So, next time you are drinking your bourbon while you’re grilling up steaks this summer, try one of these ten great albums. Like bourbon whiskey itself, all of these acts are made in America. Obviously, these albums reflect my musical preferences, and I could probably just title the post “My Favorite Bourbon Albums,” but that doesn’t sound as appealing.
10. Teddy – Teddy Pendergrass. Bourbon can be (and should be) sexy. Find a lover, drink some bourbon, and drop some Teddy Pendergrass. Great bourbon songs from Teddy: “Come Go With Me,” “Turn off the Lights”
9. Fly Like an Eagle – Steve Miller Band. To me, Steve Miller Band is pure Americana just like bourbon whiskey, and this is my favorite Steve Miller Band album. Great bourbon songs from Fly Like an Eagle: “Fly Like an Eagle,” “Wild Mountain Honey,” “Serenade”
8. O Brother, Where Art Thou? Soundtrack – Various Artists. This is a great album for sipping bourbon because there are a lot of different styles of music on it, and they are all vintage American. It is also a great bourbon movie. Great bourbon songs from O Brother Where Art Thou?: “Big Rock Candy Mountains,” “Man of Constant Sorrow,” “Hard Time Killing Floor Blues,” “O Death”
7. Tennessee Pusher – Old Crow Medicine Show. There has to be a great bluegrass/folk band on the list, and I this is one of my favorite albums. Great combination of ballads, and songs for the barbecue. Great bourbon songs from Tennessee Pusher: “The Greatest Hustler of All,” “That Evening Sun,” “Crazy Eyes,” “Tennessee Pusher”
6. Aja – Steely Dan. I love the blues influences on this album, and the shout out to whisky on “Deacon Blues” (even though its scotch). It’s a solid album top to bottom, and is also pays homage to my father who introduced me to this Steely Dan classic. Great bourbon songs from Aja: “Black Cow,” “Deacon Blues,” “Peg,” “Home at Last,” “Josie”
5. For Emma, Forever Ago – Bon Iver. Bon Iver tells stories with raw, palpable emotion, sort of a Wisconsin blues. I have a suspicion that bourbon might have been involved in the making of this album. Great bourbon songs from For Emma, Forever Ago: “Flume,” “Skinny Love,” “The Wolves,” “Creature Fear,” “re: Stacks”
4. Chulahoma: The Songs of Junior Kimbraugh – The Black Keys. The blues are the best musical genre to drink bourbon with, and this is one of my favorite takes on the blues. The Black Keys picked some of Junior Kimbraugh’s best songs to cover, and their cover of “My Mind is Ramblin’” is one of my all-time favorites. Great bourbon songs from Chulahoma: “Keep your Hands off her,” “Have Mercy on Me,” “Meet Me in the City,” “Nobody but You,” “My Mind is Ramblin’”
3. Living Proof – Buddy Guy. Buddy Guy has produced many great albums, and I almost put Bring ‘Em In on this list as well. However, Living Proof won out because of its great music and its great cover. The album is really a tribute to whiskey, with its insinuating title and “750 ml” on the cover. It also proves that classics get better with age. Great bourbon songs from Living Proof: “74 Years Younger,” “Thank Me Someday,” “Stay Around a Little Longer,” “Where the Blues Begins,” “Everybody’s Got to Go”
2. The Wild, the Innocent, and the E Street Shuffle – Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. Like Buddy Guy, there are several of Springsteen’s albums that could have made this list (see Nebraska and The Ghost of Tom Joad), but this album is my favorite. Few songwriters tell stories like Bruce, and this album is pure Americana, steeped in the sultry, smoky summers of Asbury Park, New Jersey. Both “Incident on 57th Street” and “New York City Serenade” portray Bruce at his best. Great bourbon songs from The Wild, the Innocent, and the E Street Shuffle: “4th of July, Asbury Park (Sandy),” “Wild Billy’s Circus Story,” “Incident on 57th Street,” “Rosalita (Come Out Tonight),” “New York City Serenade”
And the best album to listen to bourbon with is…
1. American IV: The Man Comes Around – Johnny Cash. This album is more or less Johnny Cash covering his favorite songs. His voice is coarse, but pure. American IV is proof that the best of things age beautifully. Like the barrel to the whiskey, Johnny Cash gives new voice to some of the finest songs ever penned. Great bourbon songs from American IV: “Hurt,” “Give My Love to Rose,” “I Hung My Head,” “In My Life,” “Streets of Laredo”
These are my favorites, let me know what great bourbon albums I’ve left off the list. Give a listen, have a glass, and see what you think. Let it ride!