I’ve always enjoyed concept albums, Pink Floyd’s The Wall (1979) being an early influence. As someone who appreciates storytelling — I’m sure many of you do as well — when each song on a record forms a bigger narrative, it’s even more engaging than the standard album. Until a few weeks ago, I had never listened to Marty Stuart’s The Pilgrim (1999). Holy hell, what an unforgettable journey!
The conceptual premise is of a man known only as The Pilgrim who unknowingly falls in love with a married woman named Rita. When Rita’s husband Norman kills himself after discovering the affair, this propels a despondent Pilgrim on his wanderings. Apparently the album is based on a true story from Stuart’s hometown of Philadelphia, Mississippi.
That being said, these country/bluegrass songs pop individually on their own, and "Sometimes the Pleasure's Worth the Pain" is a good example of that.
If that’s not enough to rope you in, maybe some of these legends who make cameos will: Emmylou Harris, Pam Tillis, George Jones, Ralph Stanley, Earl Scruggs, Johnny Cash.
What are some of your favorite concept albums?