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March 1, 2007

On a Desert Island, In the caribbean, preferably near the Mayan Riviera

Dan's post was such a great idea that I had to quickly order my thoughts and put together my own version... So here you go...

My top ten desert island recordings:

  1. OK COMPUTER (Radiohead, 1997) - In my opinion, the best album of the 1990's, hands down. While many critics agree, some put Nirvana's Nevermind in this spot. While Nevermind had quite an explosive popularity, I think time has borne out Ok Computer to be the more influential and lasting album. People still talk about Ok Computer. People talk about about Kurt Cobain. But not really Nevermind. (Flame on if you disagree.) I love this album. Life is not worth living without "Let Down" and "No Surprises."
  2. Lost In Space (Aimee Mann, 2002) - This... album... blew.... my mind. Notice the space theme in my song-a-weeks? Notice the lofi guitar sound? Notice all the isolation? This is precisely what all that wants to be but will never achieve. The art on this album is incredible as well - done as sort of a graphic novel from the people at drawn and quarterly. Nobody sings about drugs, depression, and loneliness like Aimee Mann sings about drugs, depression, and loneliness. Nobody.
  3. Heartbreaker (Ryan Adams, 2000) - I don't care if you've heard a drunk Ryan Adams whining to a music critic about his bad reviews... Whenever I hear Ryan Adams sing, I get the unmistakable impression that, if I pay close attention to what this man is saying, he will tell me how to live. Perhaps even the secrets of my own soul. Most of the time I'm not even sure what that even means, but i'm convinced Ryan will tell me. This album has more iconic songs in it than discotheques have high white boys trying to dance. What kind of an island would this be if I couldn't pretend I had a beautiful woman dancing with me when the stars go blue?

    A crappy one. That's what kind of island. I'm taking this friggen album with.
  4. Schubert's "Trout" Quintet (Piano Quintet, Op. 114) - I found this record in my basement when I was a small child. I played it over and over on the crappy record player I bought at a garage sale. Then I lost the record. Then I bought it on cd. Then I lost the cd. Then I bought this version of the cd. I've pursued this piece like a lover. I love chamber music anyway... I care a lot more about the expressiveness of a small group of individuals than how friggen loud an orchestra can get playing wagner. This is also just a terrific piece of music, played expertly. I'm in love.
  5. Pet Sounds (Beach Boys, 1966) - If you aren't in love with this album, go to your library and listen to it. If you have already heard the album and aren't in love with it, go to a doctor, there is something wrong with your soul. I wasn't a real big fan of the beach boys till this record. I didn't really care about guys loading surfboards into Woodys and driving real fast with girls named baraba ann. But I do care about this album. It is beautiful. Breathtaking, in fact. And... i'm noticing a trend here... ultimately about naivety giving way to loneliness. At least that's how I hear it now. I do not want to live in a universe without "God Only Knows."


    That's the top 5. A pretty good list. If I only had those five records to comfort me, they would be enough. However, i would not want to risk playing them so much that they lose their "specialness." And so we add five more...

  6. Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (Wilco, 2002) - The classic David and Goliath story of the music business, this is the album that a critically acclaimed, mildly successful band made themselves in a loft in chicago, spilling endless reals of tape, playing each song about twenty different ways, which was eventually rejected by their label. The same record that, when streamed off their website, generated so much fan attention that they sold it back to a record label owned by the same parent company for more money. If you've heard of Wilco, this is probably the album that let you know. Incredible songs, wrapped in a peripheral sonic universe... But pop. So pop that you don't even realize what Jeff Tweedy means when he sings "Oh distance has a way of making love understandable" until the 3rd or 14th listen through. Also has the bonus of containing one of the better love songs written, in my opinion (reservations).

  7. KID A (Radiohead, 2000) - After a bit of a nervous breakdown (quite literalyl) and a hard time dealing with the press, themselves, and a two years in a wood shed trying to make a record, out came KID A. So radical a departure from Ok Computer, most fans threw the disc across the room after they got through two songs without hearing either a guitar or Thom Yorke's unprocessed voice. And subsequently the music industry spent the next 4 years or so looking for the "next radiohead." At least some good came of that - I personally think that gave us Coldplay (which is a very, very good thing). It was only after new radiohead fans without the ok computer bias (like me) got their paws on the record before everyon sorta realized how great it was. Yeah, this album really cemented Radiohead's reputation as being a profoundly wierd band (true, in all sense of the phrase), this album was really a harbinger of doom. In 2000, we were still in the dot com days. We were not at war in Iraq. Does the album make more sense now? Maybe. But it made sense to me then. I was reading Kafka at the same time I was listening to this album. And it does sortof feel like waking up as a bug. Anyway, what's the sense in talking about something that has resorted to the "wierd" to express what can not be expressed in words? This album is important to me. That's about all I can say. I don't think its all that wierd. I think its incredible. I owned two copies of this album before I owned any other Radiohead cd. Two copies.

  8. Blonde on Blonde (Bob Dylan, 1966) - Wow, I just realized this was released the same year as Pet Sounds. Sounds NOTHING like it. Doesn't seem like the same decade. When you compare the two, this album doesn't seem to have aged as much. I had a hard time choosing between "Blonde on Blonde" and "Bringing It All Back Home" - but, for as great as Mr. Tambourine Man is, I could not leave songs like "Visions of Johanna," "I Want You," and "Just Like A Woman." I used to absolutely HATE things that were out of tune. Now I like Dylan. Go fig.

  9. String Quartets 1-13 (Dmitri Shostakovich, 1906-1975) - Recorded by several of the same musicians that premiered these works (as well as getting drunk at bars with Shostakovich), these are the prefered recordings of these songs. Aside from my unnatural love for all things Russian, I am a HUGE fan of all Shostakovich. I haven't heard music that better expresses the tense, nervous, sniveling, frustrated undercurrent of such a paranoid time. Again, chamber music. And Shostakovich is a FREAKIN good writer for string quartet. He really exploits all the marvelous things you can do with a string instrument... The music is surprising in the variety of articulations it contains. Its like a sugar-high. Of course, Shostakovich's life is quite the mystery, wrapped up in communism, shadows of dissidence, hints at Dada and the holy fool, and controversy. He even spelled his own name in his quartet in C minor. Wikipedia him if you're intruiged. If you've never heard this music, it may surprise you... Especially if you thnk "classical" is somethign you fall asleep to. I don't listen to hardcore music when I am angry. I listen to Shostakovich.

  10. This American Life - Stories of Hope and Fear. Okay so this isn't a music cd. This is a 2-cd set of radio shows from NPR. But this show. This American Life. Is more entertaining than TV. Is better than 95 percent of music out there. Is surprising. Is halarious. Is completely unbelievable. Is new every week. And, is completely true. True stories. You almost can't believe. About people. Really really interesting people. Things that will surprise you. Don't complain about where the art of storytelling went... It's right here. I can NOT describe how great this show is. I can barely make it through the work week without an episide or three of this show, how could I survive on an Island without it? Incidentally, I just picked this collection at random because it has a cool name, visually interesting cover, and three stories I haven't heard yet.


There's the desert-ten. This was a very very hard list to make. Albums that were close runners-up are listed below... because they deserve some kind of mention.

Lets hope someone else on this friggen island has ten cds of their own...

Posted by pedalboy at March 1, 2007 11:28 PM | TrackBack

Damn. Album covers. I feel an edit coming on ...

Anyway, I thought the inclusion of the "This American Life" CD was a great idea. I definitely think Ira Glass could keep me from being bored on a lonely desert island.

Posted by: Dan at March 2, 2007 10:26 AM

Oh man, Kind of Blue. What a great album. After Special K played it for us in music theory, I picked up a copy of it at the gift shop of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on band tour. I don't listen to jazz that often, but when I do, it's usually Kind of Blue. Just hearing the opening bass line of "So What" makes me really happy.

Posted by: Dan at March 2, 2007 10:37 AM


Caitlin ruined this for me, so I regret to tell you that the lyrics to that Wilco song are actually "Oh, distance has NO way, of making love understandable." I know, ruins how emo, how hopeful, and how much faith Jeff Tweedy instilled into my distance-filled relationships. It's okay though. The misunderstanding happens to the best of us. Even Jonny Weaver...

Also, "wierd" is spelled "weird." So you know...

OK Computer is my #1 album too...

Posted by: Chase at March 4, 2007 9:45 PM

funny...ok computer is my number one too. i can't live without paranoid android, climbing up the walls, and lucky. although...kid a might be in the top five as well. it's too good to go without.

my friend kevin ruined the tweedy thing for me too. but i hear that he talks about it in his solo dvd.

i wouldn't have gone with heartbreaker though. i'd probably have chosen cold roses. a more mature ryan and a killer band. can't beat it i think.

Posted by: john at March 6, 2007 12:22 AM

HOLY CRAP i just realized that "Stars go Blue isn't on Heartbreaker, its on Gold. curse word. that really throws my list off, doesn't it???

Posted by: matt good at August 8, 2008 8:44 AM
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