Greg Kot is a great listener—been so since growing up in Syracuse in the ‘70s. He’s also a discerning guide. As the renowned rock critic of the Chicago Tribune, author of five books including I’ll Take Your There and Wilco: Learning How to Die, and the co-host of the venerated NPX program Sound Opinions, Kot has helped explain and explore the power and pull of music for decades. He recently supplied WellWell with his short list of albums to help everyone battle through the quarantine blues. Listen up.
Bill Withers, “Live at Carnegie Hall” (1973)
He could craft a song, sing it like your best friend and lift you out of your seat in concert. You could lean on him when the going got tough.
John Prine, “The Missing Years” (1991)
Just the right mix of humor and pathos for troubled times from the late, great master songwriter.
Mavis Staples, “We’ll Never Turn Back” (2007)
What a voice – and producer Ry Cooder gives it exactly what it needs. The Chicago soul great brings contemporary relevance and urgency to freedom songs she sang in the ‘60s civil-rights era.
Run the Jewels, “Run the Jewels 3” (2016)
A blast of beats and rhyme about the don’t-tread-on-me 99 percenters out there, and a celebration of the feisty interplay between two of the era’s most gifted MC’s, El-P and Killer Mike.
Sir the Baptist: “Saint or Sinner” (2017)
The son of a Baptist preacher, William James Stokes brings the sanctified exuberance of church music to the streets. The wrenching “Deliver Me” is a signpost song about the struggle, resilience and triumph of black women.