54. Bruce Springsteen, 'The Ghost of Tom Joad'
The grim ballads Bruce Springsteen purveys on The Ghost of Tom Joad make Nebraska seem like "Rosalita" — they veer perilously close to desperation. The title track is a prayer for revived idealism, and the album closes with "My Best Was Never Good Enough," a contemptuous dismissal of the Gump-style clichés people lean on, however irrationally, to get by. Surveying an American landscape littered with crushed hopes, Springsteen stares down the darkness but fights it only to a draw. That a rocker of this magnitude would make a folk album this forlorn spits in the eye of the rising Dow.