Craig Finn on his Top Ten Vinyl

Craig Finn is taking a break from The Hold Steady to release his fourth solo record, I Need A New War. Here, the indie rock ‘n’ roller walks us through 10 of the most formative albums on his record shelves…

Craig Finn

Paul SimonPaul Simon – Greatest Hits, Etc.

“My parents didn’t have a huge collection, but I started there. In Slip Slidin’ Away there’s that verse: ‘I know a man, he came from my hometown, he wore his passion for his woman like a thorny crown. He said Delores…’  It sharpens up when he says Delores, as you can picture a real person.”


Kiss – Dressed To Kill

“Me and my friends all liked KISS — they were superhuman, and we’d talk about whether Gene Simmons was a robot or not, or whether he could fly. It’s not kickass in the way Aerosmith or the Stones were in that era, but it was my introduction to real rock ‘n’ roll, and most of all it was fun.”


The Vapors Craig FinnThe Vapors – Magnets

“This is when I started to talk about music with my friends at school. It had a great cover by the guy who did Where’s Waldo. It’s this eye made up of what seems to be an accident, the blue is policemen, and there’s someone on the ground. There’s a sniper, and the lyrics have to do with the Kennedy assassination.”

The Suicide Commandos Craig Finn

The Suicide Commandos – Make A Record

“I always loved the Ramones, and my guitar teacher ended up being Chris Osgood, who was in Suicide Commandos. He was like, ‘I know the Ramones’. I was like, ‘What!?’ It’s amazing punk from Minneapolis, with really good guitars. It’s almost ZZ Top meets punk-rock.”

Hüsker Dü Craig FinnHüsker Dü – Zen Arcade

“Again, they’re from my town and it wasn’t just a punk record, it was this sprawling set with a loose concept you couldn’t figure out. It had this LSD thing going on, hardcore fury, and this double-songwriter thing. It opened up new ideas of what punk could be.”

Lou Reed Craig Finn

Lou Reed – New York

“This was someone taking a big topic and coming at it from all sides, like sticking swords in a box. There was this conversational, talky thing that was really attractive to me. It made me realise that you don’t really have to be a great, tuneful singer to tell stories and make songs.”

Bruce SpringsteenBruce Springsteen – Born To Run

“I was not a big Springsteen guy until my early 20s, maybe. There’s this storytelling using characters that I love, and I really love the way it connects to an old American thing, the horns, the piano… There’s something that connects to Phil Spector, and drag racing, and sock hops.”

The Grifters

The Grifters – Eureka

“The Grifters were weirdos from Memphis, so they had one foot in traditional things. The first line of the record is, ‘Here’s the lowdown on the Gold Boy’. I was like, ‘Woah, who’s the Gold Boy?’ That’s how I want to write songs, I want to know more about the Gold Boy.”

DillingerDillinger Four – Midwestern Songs of the Americas

“This was the first great record that I ever felt a part of. I didn’t play on it, but these were my friends. I probably drank beer with them after they went to the studio, and my band Lifter Puller played the album release with them on a riverboat on the Mississippi.”

Thin Lizzy

Thin Lizzy – Jailbreak

“When I first moved to New York, I started buying cheap records to fill in the holes in my classic-rock knowledge. Right around the start of The Hold Steady, we were listening to so much Thin Lizzy. It had everything, the stories, the duelling guitars, and it’s got great swing. A huge influence.”