Friday, March 22, 2024

The Top 60 Folk/Folk Rock Albums of All Time

Folk/Folk Rock:

The Top 60 Albums

Call it folk, folk-rock, roots music, country rock, or whatever else floats your fancy. Music typically driven by acoustic instruments or which harkens back to musical forms of a century ago has played a large role in shaping popular music and then responding to popular music trends. The DMDB aggregated more than 30 lists and then took those albums from 3 or more lists and ranked them according to overall DMDB points.

This has since been divided into two lists. This one focuses on folk and folk rock, roughly music from the 1930s through the 1980s. A second list has been been dedicated to what I’m calling “New Americana.” Like folk and folk rock, this is music which is roots-based, but tends to have a more modern spin as it is largely comprised of albums from the 21st century with representation of the ‘80s and ‘90s as well. In addition to Americana, this music is also referred to as indie folk and alt-country.

Make sure you also check out the DMDB list of top country albums as there is a lot ocross-polination between country, folk, and Americana. I’ve created three separate lists for these genres and allowed an album to only show up on one of the three lists. Check out those and other best-of-genre/category lists here.

1. Simon & Garfunkel Bridge Over Troubled Water (1970)
2. Bob Dylan Blonde on Blonde (1966)
3. Carole King Tapestry (1971)
4. Bob Dylan Highway 61 Revisited (1965)
5. Bob Dylan Blood on the Tracks (1975)
6. Van Morrison Astral Weeks (1968)
7. Joni Mitchell Blue (1971)
8. Neil Young After the Gold Rush (1970)
9. Neil Young Harvest (1972)
10. Love Forever Changes (1967)

11. The Band The Band (1969)
12. Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young Déjà Vu (1970)
13. Robert Johnson The Complete Recordings (1936-37)
14. Bob Dylan Bringing It All Back Home (1965)
15. Van Morrison Moondance (1970)
16. The Band Music from Big Pink (1968)
17. George Harrison All Things Must Pass (1970)
18. Creedence Clearwater Revival Cosmo’s Factory (1970)
19. Tracy Chapman Tracy Chapman (1988)
20. Grateful Dead American Beauty (1970)

21. Bob Dylan The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan (1963)
22. Crosby, Stills & Nash Crosby, Stills & Nash (1969)
23. Nick Drake Five Leaves Left (1969)
24. Bruce Springsteen Nebraska (1982)
25. Bob Dylan Love and Theft (2001)
26. Leonard Cohen The Songs of Leonard Cohen (1967)
27. Simon & Garfunkel Bookends (1968)
28. Neil Young Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere (1969)
29. The Byrds Younger Than Yesterday (1967)
30. The Byrds Mr. Tambourine Man (1965)

31. Grateful Dead Workingman’s Dead (1970)
32. Bob Dylan Time Out of Mind (1997)
33. Various Artists compiled by Harry Smith Anthology of American Folk Music (box set, recorded 1926-32, released 1952)
34. James Taylor Sweet Baby James (1970)
35. Bob Dylan John Wesley Harding (1967)
36. Bob Dylan Modern Times (2006)
37. John Cougar Mellencamp Scarecrow (1985)
38. Nick Drake Bryter Layter (1970)
39. Fairport Convention Liege and Lief (1969)
40. Nick Drake Pink Moon (1972)

41. Cat Stevens Tea for the Tillerman (1970)
42. Buffalo Springfield Again (1967)
43. Woody Guthrie Dust Bowl Ballads (1940)
44. Simon & Garfunkel Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme (1966)
45. Bob Dylan The Royal Albert Hall Concert (The Bootleg Series Volume 4) (live, 1966)
46. Richard & Linda Thompson I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight (1974)
47. Neil Young On the Beach (1974)
48. Bob Dylan Nashville Skyline (1969)
49. Bob Dylan Another Side of Bob Dylan (1964)
50. John Prine John Prine (1972)

51. Richard & Linda Thompson Shoot Out the Lights (1982)
52. The Kingston Trio At Large (1959)
53. Randy Newman 12 Songs (1970)
54. Bob Dylan The Times They Are A-Changin’ (1964)
55. Indigo Girls Indigo Girls (1989)
56. Leonard Cohen Songs of Love and Hate (1971)
57. Tim Buckley Starsailor (1970)
58. Fairport Convention Unhalfbricking (1969)
59. Bob Dylan Rough and Rowdy Ways (2020)
60. Eagles Eagles (1972)

Resources and Related Links:

First posted 3/4/2013; last updated 3/22/2024.


  1. David Francey's Torn Screen Door should be on your list.

  2. Jimmy Driftwood, Carter Family, and all the others??? You're list is tends to lean towards many artists that I would classify as rock and not folk.

    1. I made no attempt to define or limit the definition of "folk." I just went by the lists. If they put it on their lists, I included it in my database. Then I just created the list by going with whatever albums got the most points.

  3. My parents got me hooked on Peter, Paul and Mary and I found my way to Bob Dylan. I also got hooked into Paul Simon and into John Prine at an early age having been born in 1979. On the flip side I started out with Willie Nelson and Dolly Parton then found my way to Johnny Cash, Emmylou Harris and Allison Krauss.

    I found slight similarities between the Folk artists and Americana artists. I landed on Folk Rock and Country Rock eventually and that lead me in different directions. One was Contemporary Singer-Songwriter and Modern Folk. There is some overlap between genres and a lot of jumping off points.

    The main genres of discussion with this list are Folk music between 1950 and now, Folk Rock, Singer-Songwriter, Country Rock, Country Folk, Americana and a Folk-Alternative vibe.

    Personally I recommend people check out these stations to get an idea of how big the field is: On Google Play Music try Essential Folk, Classic Singer-Songwriters, Reflections of a Singer-Songwriter, Allison Krauss station, Eye Opening Americana, God Bless Americana, Rolling Down The Road Radio, Fireplace Folk, Today's Americana, Today's Indie Folk & Americana and Today's Singer-Songwriters.
    On Pandora try Country Folk, 60s Folk, 70s Folk, Traditional Folk, Contemporary Folk, Lite Rock Songwriters, Americana, British Folk, Folk Rock and Acoustic Blues.
    On Aol Radio try Folk, Americana, Songwriters, and Sailing Away.
    On Jango try 60s Folk Rock, Folk Rock, Warm Acoustic Music, 70s Singer Songwriter Redefined, Singing By The Campfire, Mellow and Melancholy Folk, Alt Country and Americana

    Just some ideas. Gives you artists you can then find on Spotify and Rhapsody type sites or try custom stations on the sites.

  4. No GORDON LIGHTFOOT….. sinful.

  5. It is very strange that Melanie Safka, Tim Hardin ,Phil Ochs and Nanci Griffith are missing from this list. But Ed Sheeran? And Billy Bragg is about as Americana as a rock on Mars ! Give me a break!

    1. As explained at the top of the page, more than 50 lists were aggregated to create this one. If someone doesn't make the list, that just means they didn't show up enough on those other lists. Thems the breaks.