Friday, March 11, 2022

The Top 100 Folk/Americana Albums of All Time


The Top 100 Albums

Call it folk, folk-rock, roots music, Americana, alternate country, 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 50 lists and then took those albums from 3 or more lists, as well as any albums which topped Billboard magazine’s Americana chart from 2009 to present, and ranked them according to overall DMDB points.

Check out 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. Neil Young After the Gold Rush (1970)
8. Joni Mitchell Blue (1971)
9. Jeff Buckley Grace (1994)
10. Neil Young Harvest (1972)

11. Love Forever Changes (1967)
12. The Band The Band (1969)
13. Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young Déjà Vu (1970)
14. Van Morrison Moondance (1970)
15. Bob Dylan Bringing It All Back Home (1965)
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. Various Artists O Brother Where Art Thou (soundtrack, 2000)
20. Grateful Dead American Beauty (1970)

21. Robert Johnson The Complete Recordings (1936-37)
22. Tracy Chapman Tracy Chapman (1988)
23. Kacey Musgraves Golden Hour (2018)
24. Chris Stapleton Traveller (2015)
25. Bob Dylan The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan (1963)
26. Gram Parsons Grievous Angel (1974)
27. Sufjan Stevens Illinois (2005)
28. Crosby, Stills & Nash Crosby, Stills & Nash (1969)
29. The Byrds Sweetheart of the Rodeo (1968)
30. Nick Drake Five Leaves Left (1969)

31. Bob Dylan Love and Theft (2001)
32. Hank Williams 40 Greatest Hits (compilation: 1947-53, released 1978)
33. Mumford & Sons Babel (2012)
34. Beck Sea Change (2002)
35. Bruce Springsteen Nebraska (1982)
36. Fleet Foxes Fleet Foxes (2008)
37. The Flying Burrito Brothers The Gilded Palace of Sin (1969)
38. Leonard Cohen The Songs of Leonard Cohen (1967)
39. The Byrds Younger Than Yesterday (1967)
40. Simon & Garfunkel Bookends (1968)

41. Robert Plant & Alison Krauss Raising Sand (2007)
42. Neil Young Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere (1969)
43. Grateful Dead Workingman’s Dead (1970)
44. The Byrds Mr. Tambourine Man (1965)
45. Bob Dylan Time Out of Mind (1997)
46. Various Artists compiled by Harry Smith Anthology of American Folk Music (box set, recorded 1926-32, released 1952)
47. Mumford & Sons Sigh No More (2009)
48. Bob Dylan Modern Times (2006)
49. James Taylor Sweet Baby James (1970)
50. Bob Dylan John Wesley Harding (1967)

51. Sturgill Simpson A Sailor’s Guide to Earth (2016)
52. Bon Iver For Emma, Forever Ago (2008)
53. Willie Nelson Red-Headed Stranger (1975)
54. John Cougar Mellencamp Scarecrow (1985)
55. Nick Drake Bryter Layter (1970)
56. Nick Drake Pink Moon (1972)
57. Fairport Convention Liege and Lief (1969)
58. Richard & Linda Thompson I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight (1974)
59. Lucinda Williams Car Wheels on a Gravel Road (1998)
60. Buffalo Springfield Again (1967)

61. Sufjan Stevens Carrie & Lowell (2015)
62. Cat Stevens Tea for the Tillerman (1970)
63. Johnny Cash American Recordings (1994)
64. Bob Dylan The Royal Albert Hall Concert (The Bootleg Series Volume 4) (live, 1966)
65. Nitty Gritty Dirt Band Will the Circle Be Unbroken (1972)
66. Bob Dylan Nashville Skyline (1969)
67. Bon Iver Bon Iver (2011)
68. Woody Guthrie Dust Bowl Ballads (1940)
69. Gram Parsons G.P. (1973)
70. Ed Sheeran Plus (+) (2011)

71. Richard & Linda Thompson Shoot Out the Lights (1982)
72. Bob Dylan Another Side of Bob Dylan (1964)
73. Steve Earle Guitar Town (1986)
74. Randy Newman 12 Songs (1970)
75. The Kingston Trio At Large (1959)
76. Simon & Garfunkel Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme (1966)
77. Emmylou Harris Wrecking Ball (1995)
78. Indigo Girls Indigo Girls (1989)
79. Courtney Barnett Sometimes I Sit and Think and Sometimes I Just Sit (2015)
80. John Prine John Prine (1972)

81. Bruce Springsteen We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions (2006)
82. Chris Stapleton Starting Over (2020)
83. Bruce Springsteen Letter to You (2020)
84. Tim Buckley Starsailor (1970)
85. Elliott Smith Either/Or (1997)
86. The Lumineers The Lumineers (2012)
87. Fleet Foxes Helplessness Blues (2011)
88. John Hiatt Bring the Family (1987)
89. Fairport Convention Unhalfbricking (1969)
90. Leonard Cohen Songs of Love and Hate (1971)

91. Bob Dylan The Times They Are A-Changin’ (1964)
92. Neutral Milk Hotel In the Aeroplane Over the Sea (1998)
93. Leonard Cohen You Want It Darker (2016)
94. Bob Dylan Rough and Rowdy Ways (2020)
95. Gillian Welch Time (The Revelator) (2001)
96. The Highwomen The Highwomen (2019)
97. Uncle Tupelo No Depression (1990)
98. Brandi Carlile By the Way, I Forgive You (2018)
99. Mary Chapin Carpenter Come on, Come On (1992)
100. Billy Bragg & Wilco Mermaid Avenue (1998)

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First posted 3/4/2013; last updated 3/11/2022.


  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.