I’ve seen posts asking people to name albums that shaped their musical taste on social media lately, and I’ve chosen to overlook the fact that nobody tagged me to share mine and share them anyway. Haha. No hard feelings, but it did get me thinking about the music that I would have been listening to at crucial times in my life. I had to ask my parents and siblings for some help, but ultimately this is what I came up with. Also, just to clarify I went in order of what I remember hearing when timeline wise. So with no further ado, here’s the 20 Albums that shaped my music taste…as best as I can remember it.


1. Philharmonic OrchestraHooked on Classics (1981)

It was the same stinking’ backbeat on every one of these tunes and I didn’t even care! I remember listening to this one on with my siblings a lot. With many crazy dances and general wildness around the living room. I know right, wildness to classical music, but that’s just how we rolled. It still brings a smile to my face to hear this songs all these years later. 

2. Maranatha SingersPraise 1 (1974)

I just remember that this was a staple worship album that my parents played often when I was growing up. This would have been way before the worship industry exploded but I still love a lot of these simple choruses sung by a chorus of unnamed voices. 

3. Amy GrantAge To Age (1982)

There was a few year period my family lived with my mom’s parents while building a house. They had an old gigantic floor model vinyl player and this was one of the records we used to play a lot. This would have been early 90’s, but it was my introduction to Amy’s music. Though I’m not still a fan and wouldn’t consider these “my” artists they were the gateway to my future fandom of CCM. This era would have also featured a lot of Larnelle Harris and Sandi Patty records high in rotation. 

4. Steven Curtis ChapmanThe Great Adventure (1992)

While I don’t return to this album much, it and really more the self-titled song itself are responsible for the start of my CCM fandom. Although Amy Grant was the first gateway, you could also put a few other 90’s era SCC albums like the first album I ever owned (Heaven In The Real World) or maybe even an Out of the Grey record like Shape of Grace, but this really was the first that I considered “my music.” 

5. Michael W. SmithChange Your World (1992)

This was the first album I ever bought with my own money shortly after getting a cd player/dual tape deck boom box. I wore this one out and it’s still fun to revisit from time to time. Still remember most of the words. 

6. Susan AshtonWakened By The Wind (1991)

This is one of the albums that my Aunt loved and it quickly grew on me. If I like any country music these days at all it’s likely due to the country-tinged influences in this one. She is a terrific singer and I consider this one of the best CCM albums the genre has to offer, especially of the 90s. 

7. DctalkFree At Last (1992)

Another album first owned my my aunt that I “borrowed” many times. I was hooked on this catchy pop/rock/rap combo especially what I discovered later to be cover song “Lean On Me.” The whole album is a classic. Other crucial albums in this time period that didn’t quite make the cut would be The Newsboys Going Public, The Kry’s You, PFR’s Great Lengths, and Audio Adrenaline’s Don’t Censor Me.

8. DctalkJesus Freak (1995)

I’m sure there were other albums in-between these Dctalk records but I cannot for the life of me remember what they would have been. Regardless, 1995 would be an important year as it would be the year of two of my all-time favorite albums, my first and favorite year of youth camp, and the year for a few other things that marked it as my overall favorite of the 90s. This and the album beneath it are an easy 1 and 1A for best of the decade in my opinion. I had heard nothing like this (I would discover Nirvana much later) and was blown away by the sheer force of the songs. Hard to top this one…

9. Jars of ClaySelf Titled (1995)

To all who know me well, they would know that this is my favorite album of all-time. I’m not sure why it is cemented in place, but there just something comforting about it that takes me to a good spot. Some might call it nostalgia, and maybe it is but all I know is I’ve never gotten tired of it. This is the kind of album to find new things to love the more you listen to it. This album is responsible for my standards of what to look for in modern music. Poetic lyrics, top notch musicianship, acoustic-based instrumentation, sweet string sections, it’s all here…and I”m not programmed to look for it in new favorites. 

10. Rich MullinsSongs (1996)

I Honestly don’t remember when I first came upon this album, but that’s sort of my fandom of the late Mullins in a nutshell. In some ways it feels like I was always a fan, or always destined to be one anyway. I first heard his music through being in a youth group choir singing in inescapable “Awesome God” as well as hearing Amy Grant sing his tune “Sing Your Praise To The Lord.” It wouldn’t be until much later that I would discover the treasure trove of his back catalogue and this album was the catalyst for looking into his work further. What a genius songwriter and beautiful man. 

11. Jon GibsonThe Hits (1991)

I honestly don’t know what I first heard a Gibson song, though it was probably around 1994-1995 when I started listening to the radio on my own. I’m sure I would have heard “Jesus Loves Ya” among others, the dude had radio hits all over the place in the late 80s and early to mid 90s. Can’t remember if I had this album first of 95’s Love Education (probably the latter) but I know that I did listen to the hits album a ton. I then went back and tracked down the rest of Jon’s catalogue and still own it to this day. Fantastic singer. Love his vocal runs and scatting ability. Blue-eyed soul in the vein of Stevie Wonder. 

12. The Beatles1 (2000)

I would have been introduced to the Beatles around the age of 16 at the home of a family that I tutored their son. It was the song “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” and it was this album I heard it on. I’m sure this wasn’t my first introduction to The Beatles, but it was the first that fully caught my musical ears. Then in college after purchasing this album for myself I became a fan, and the rest is history. 

13. Caedmon’s CallLing Line Of Leavers (2000)

This is a college record for me and a pivotal one. I loved their previous two which were more coffee house acoustic based but something about this more plugged in version has stuck with me. It’s also one of the wife’s favorites so there’s a shared affinity that makes it easy to listen to in the car often. 

14. ColdplayParachutes (2000)

I heard “Trouble” and “Yellow” and I was hooked. It was the night of my Christian colleges “open dorm” where the guys and girls were allowed to hang out on each other’s floors and visit each other’s rooms to see how they were decorated. I think we were playing a card game in the hallway and the strains of the two aforementioned songs hit my ears, and I’ve never looked back. Still a big fan of this album and band. 

15. Jars of ClayThe Eleventh Hour (2002)

Another college era album, but one important because of the discussion that it sparked with a few friends of mine. We dug deep into the lyrics and for me it helped form a lifelong desire for lyrics that make me think, with multiple layers of meaning and interpretation. I’ve forever grateful that I didn’t give up on this band just because I didn’t understand upon first listen. 

16. SwitchfootThe Beautiful Letdown (2003)

I would have been an upperclassman in college and soon to graduate the following year. This album helped shape my expectations and gave me anthems to sing loud. I’m still a big fan of the Switchfoot fellas and hope they don’t hang it up anytime soon. “Meant To Live” is an absolute jam, and “24” is still one of my favorite songs to sing loud in the car with my wife. 

17. Shane & ShaneClean (2004)

I would have missed these unassuming fellas if not for a recommendation from my bride who caught on to them first. Acoustic based worship with lyrics ripped straight from Scripture. What could be better? Love these guys 

18. Various ArtistsGlory Revealed (2007)

Very few albums have stood the rest of time but this is one of them. Americana/acoustic worship Scripture songs by various Christian musicians with Mac Powell (Third Day) and author/speaker David Nasser heading it all up. It was also one of my top 5 favorite live shows to see as well. I can not recommend this record enough.

19. Twenty One PilotsBlurryface (2015)

This is really the first album of the teens that I fully dove into and listened to literally hundreds of times in the car. It was/is a family favorite so it’s easy to listen to it again and again. I’ve loved everything this crazy pop duo has released.

20. John Van DeusenI Am Origami Pt. 2: Every Power Wide Awake (2018)

This is the album that shaped what I look for in modern worship/pop music…deeply authentic, devotional lyrics, indie aesthetics. It’s my favorite worship album ever.

There you have it! What about you? What albums have shaped your musical taste and deeply impacted your life?

Happy listening!