Seven Essential Southern Albums

We asked several of our favorite musicians for albums every music-loving Southerner ought to know

Photo: Caroline Allison

REM Reckoning

Reckoning, R.E.M.
“R.E.M is my all-time favorite Southern band. They made about ten excellent albums, but if I had to pick one favorite, it would be their second full-length album, released in 1984. It’s an absolute masterpiece from their early phase, with incredible songs like ‘So. Central Rain’ and ‘(Don’t Go Back To) Rockville,’ among others.”

—Patterson Hood, Drive-By Truckers

Goodbye Babylon


Goodbye, Babylon, Various Artists
“It’s a collection of field and archival recordings of Southern gospel music released by Dust-to-Digital. It contains the very seeds of American roots music.”

Rosanne Cash

Eat a Peach Allman Brothers


Eat a Peach, The Allman Brothers Band
“The studio version of ‘Blue Sky’ is alone worth having this classic in your collection.”

—Susan Tedeschi, Tedeschi Trucks Band

Al Green Im Still In Love With You


I’m Still In Love With You, Al Green
“Those guys were making magic down in Memphis! This album was what Southern soul was all about in Charleston, South Carolina, where I grew up. It will always remind me of home.”

Darius Rucker

Jason Isbell SoutheasternSoutheastern, Jason Isbell
“Every single human should own Southeastern, by Jason Isbell. It will break you down, lift you up into laughter, make you explore the dark places you never wanted to, and still has the choruses that you can’t stop singing in the shower. Love and glory, death and defeat. A perfect exploration into all of our souls no matter our age, class, or taste. He is a perfect storyteller and musician.”

Holly Williams

Outkast ATLiensATLiens, Outkast
“Outkast brought that Southern hip-hop to a bigger audience, and that spawned so much greatness. If you don’t move to this record, there isn’t much hope for you.”

—Paul Janeway, St. Paul and the Broken Bones

Sounds of the SouthSounds of the South (box set), Various Artists
“[This is] Alan Lomax’s definitive roots music field-recorded masterpiece. A look into the wonder, beauty, sadness, and humanity through the songs of the Southern soul. It’s the quintessential Southern sacred music bible.”

—Chris Robinson, Chris Robinson Brotherhood