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The stories behind some of the most essential albums of all time, told by the artists who made them and Rolling Stone’s writers and editors. Each episode focuses on one album from the brand-new, updated version of Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums list, featuring fresh conversations with the people who made the music, classic interview audio and expert commentary. Episodes include the late Tom Petty on his solo classic Wildflowers, Taylor Swift talking about her career-changing 2012 album Red, and Public Enemy breaking down their political masterpiece It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back.
Now we’re back with Season Two. Across 10 episodes, you’ll hear Dolly Parton tell the stories behind the songs on her 1971 solo breakthrough Coat of Many Colors; Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr delve into the making of the Beatles’ troubled final album, Let It Be; Britney Spears’ collaborators explain how she made 2007’s Blackout in the eye of a paparazzi hurricane; friends and relatives of Alice Coltrane look back at how she overcame tragedy to create her masterpiece Journey in Satchidananda; Rivers Cuomo and his bandmates reflect on the unlikely birth of Weezer’s Blue Album; and much more.
Hosted by Senior Writer Brittany Spanos, Season Two of Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums appears exclusively on Amazon Music and Wondery+, with weekly episodes starting November 16.
Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums: Introducing Season 2
The stories behind some of the most essential albums of all time, told by the artists who made them. Each episode focuses on one album from Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums list and features fresh conversations with the people behind the music, as well as classic interview audio and expert commentary from Rolling Stone’s writers and editors. Season 2 takes you inside a new slate of classics: Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr break down what people got wrong about Let it Be, Dolly Parton tells the full story of her career-changing personal statement Coat of Many Colors, and collaborators, friends and admirers break down albums by Kanye West, Britney Spears, Alice Coltrane and more.
Season 2 will launch new episodes starting on November 16th, exclusively on Amazon Music and Wondery+.
|Nov 19, 2021|
Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On"
What's Going On was R&B's first concept album, a suite of seamlessly connected songs tackling everything from police brutality to heroin addiction, inner-city poverty, and the dire state of the environment. When Marvin Gaye first proposed the project, inspired by a song brought to him by Four Tops member Obie Benson, Gordy told him it was career suicide. But when the title track came out, it was an instant smash, and Gordy immediately asked for more. Gaye channeled everything that was weighing on his mind, Terrell's tragic death from a brain tumor, his brother Frankie's harrowing experiences in Vietnam, the struggles of the civil-rights movement, all into a sobering yet healing treatise on troubled times.
In the season one finale of the Amazon Original podcast, "Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums", we take an in-depth look at What's Going On, which took the top spot on Rolling Stone's newly updated 500 Greatest Albums list. In the episode you'll hear archival interviews with Marvin Gaye, where he delves into his evolving mindset at the time. You'll also hear reflections on the record from Marvin's collaborator and confidant Smokey Robinson; esteemed singer Aaron Neville, Gaye's contemporary and longtime admirer; his biographer David Ritz; and even his beloved sister Zeola Gaye. Later in the episode, host Brittany Spanos leads a roundtable discussion on the history and still-vital legacy of What's Going On featuring legendary music journalist Nelson George, who interviewed Gaye during his lifetime; singer Devon Gilfillian, who recently covered What's Going On in full on his own new album; and director Spike Lee, who wove the songs of What's Going On throughout Da Five Bloods, his acclaimed 2020 film about a group of black veterans returning to Vietnam in the present day.
|Nov 17, 2021|
The Beach Boys' "Pet Sounds"
In early 1966, the Beach Boys arrived at Los Angeles’ Western Studios to hear what Brian Wilson had been up to. The touring version of the band – Mike Love, Bruce Johnston, Al Jardine and Dennis Wilson – had been on the road in Japan, singing surf hits like “Fun, Fun Fun” and “I Get Around.” Wilson, after suffering a mental breakdown on a plane the year before, stayed home, opting to work on instrumental tracks with studio musicians.
What the band heard stunned them. Using instruments like harpsichord, harmonica, strings, and even sleigh bells, Wilson had written a spiritual album that captured heartbreak, insecurity, pain and sadness of entering adulthood. According to legend, the Beach Boys did not like "Pet Sounds", and its commercial failure led Brian Wilson to lose confidence in himself and descend further into mental illness. As the band explained to Rolling Stone in this week's episode of 500 Greatest Albums of All Time podcast, the truth is more a little more complicated.
While "Pet Sounds" didn’t sell, it inspired generations of musicians, beginning with the Beatles, who, according to George Martin, said ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ “never would have happened” without "Pet Sounds". The album was voted number two on Rolling Stone's rebooted 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list, the spot it held in 2003.
Rolling Stone’s Jason Fine narrates the episode, which includes archival interviews with Brian Wilson, members of Wrecking Crew and more, as well as new interviews with several Beach Boys, plus members of Brian Wilson’s touring band, who brought the music of Pet Sounds to life on stage for the first time in 2000.
|Nov 17, 2021|
Daddy Yankee's "Barrio Fino"
In the mid-2000s, Daddy Yankee was a married father of three living in the Villa Kennedy public housing projects in San Juan, Puerto Rico. But he was about to change the world with an album that did perhaps more than any other to turn reggaeton - an underground urban movement out of Puerto Rico, drawing on influences like Jamaican dancehall, Panamanian reggae en español and hip hop - into a global force that produces hit after hit and fuels the careers of superstars like Bad Bunny and Ozuna.
In this episode of Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums, Daddy Yankee talks with Nuria Net, journalist and co-founder of podcast studio La Coctelera Music, about that game-changing album, 2004's "Barrio Fino". He breaks down his vision for the album (and for reggaeton itself), going in-depth about the struggles to get the establishment to take reggaeton seriously. Along the way we hear from producers like Echo and Luny Tunes (the massively important hit "Gasolina" was birthed in Luny's mom's house, where she would cook Dominican food for the artists) and from artists like De La Ghetto and Bad Bunny, who talks about first hearing "Barrio Fino" as a 10-year-old kid in Puerto Rico and testifies to the album's influence.
Later in the episode, Nuria Net, Los Angeles Times music reporter Suzy Exposito, and De La Ghetto join host Brittany Spanos to discuss the album’s impact and legacy.
|Nov 10, 2021|
Lauryn Hill's "The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill"
After rocketing to worldwide fame in the early Nineties as an actress and a member of the Fugees, Lauryn Hill took a big risk with her solo debut, 1998's "The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill". It made her an even bigger star at age 23, sold millions of copies, and won her five Grammy Awards, which is the most any woman before her had taken home in a single night. But in the years following Miseducation's blockbuster success, Hill all but exited public life. Though she has since returned to touring and has released one-off singles, she has yet to release a proper follow-up to her one solo album.
In the latest episode of Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums, Hill's collaborators and confidants detail the ambitious, personal recording process along with the complicated decades that have followed, including legal disputes with some of those same collaborators. While Hill rarely grants interviews, she also responded to e-mail questions from Rolling Stone for this episode, providing detailed new insights on an album that has become so influential and beloved that it landed at Number 10 on our brand-new poll of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, making it the highest-ranking hip-hop album on the new list.
|Nov 10, 2021|
Taylor Swift's "Red"
In this special episode of Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums, we tackle one of the best and most important albums of the past decade: Taylor Swift's 2012 pop masterpiece "Red". Swift joins host Brittany Spanos to discuss why this is her "one true break-up album" and how she was becoming aware of her own mortality just as she was about to release her fourth album. At 22, Swift was already America’s favorite country singer. With "Red", she grew up with a bona fide classic that touched on pop, dubstep, arena-rock and more, and set up the rest of her career (very much including this year's "Folklore"). Later in the episode, Rolling Stone staffers Claire Shaffer, Rob Sheffield and Brian Hiatt join Spanos to discuss the album's legacy.
|Nov 03, 2021|
Tom Petty's "Wildflowers"
In this episode of Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest albums, we go inside the emotional story of Tom Petty’s "Wildflowers", a 1994 solo album that the singer, along with many fans, felt was the best work of his entire career. For a variety of reasons, Petty never could stop thinking about "Wildflowers"; in fact, it was on his mind right before he died. Mike Campbell, Benmont Tench, and Steve Ferrone of the Heartbreakers along with Petty’s daughter Adria, wife Dana, and "Wildflowers" Executive Producer George Drakoulias discuss how the album was born over a fraught two year period marked by the breakdown of Petty’s first marriage, and a time of depression and uncertainty that followed. This mental state produced songs like "It’s Good To Be King” and "You Don’t Know How It Feels” that seem light and cheerful on the surface, but are actually expressing deep pain. We also share unheard audio from the Rolling Stone archives of Petty speaking about "Wildflowers" and his hopes for a deluxe edition that didn’t want up coming out until three years after his death. Later in the episode, Rolling Stone staffers David Browne, Angie Martoccio and Andy Greene join Spanos to discuss the album’s legacy.
|Nov 03, 2021|
Introducing: Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums
Get ready to explore Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums, a new podcast from Amazon Music. Originally released in 2003, the 500 Greatest Albums list is Rolling Stone’s most read and most argued-over article of all time. This year, the magazine completely remade it, with help from voters such as Beyonce, Taylor Swift, U2, and more. In each episode, we’ll dive into the making of one of the albums on the new list: Hear Tom Petty's family and bandmates explain how a deeply painful period in his life resulted in a classic solo album; Swift talk about how Red was a huge risk that changed everything for her; Chuck D on how Public Enemy tried to make the greatest rap album ever with It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back and, quite possibly, succeeded.
|Nov 01, 2021|