Desert Island Discs

The BBC had this great show that I sometimes listened to as a lad back in Canada called Desert Island Disks. It’s reportedly the longest running music show in history. The basic idea is that you pick eight albums you take to a desert island. You then have to say which is your favorite. Then they say what book they’d take. (The show assumes you are allowed to take in addition the Complete Works of Shakespeare and the Bible so as to not get stuck in a rut with those) and one luxury item.

Here’s mine:

First my albums aren’t necessarily my favorites. But I’d almost be afraid to take my favorites since I’d only be listening to these 8. I have some great albums I’m not sure would stand up as well as some of these.

In no particular order

1. Joshua Tree – yeah this is a favorite. But it’s also one I always associate with the wilderness. We used to love playing this album after work in Los Alamos while driving down to White Rock to climb. For me, the suicide song on the album has nothing to do with suicide but everything to do with rock climbing in a storm. (Which might be suicidal according to some people)

2. Miles Davis – The Birth of Cool. How could you not have this one? It’d mellow you out no matter what.

3. Pink Floyd – A Momentary Lapse of Reason. An other album I associate with driving through the wilderness. My favorite album by them even though it’s just a live album from after the post-Rogers reforming of the band. It’s a great live album though.

4. Strauss – the Waltzes. There are dozens of different collections of this. I just love his waltzes though and play them every now and then to cheer up. To me its oddly closely associate with Miles Davis although I couldn’t tell you why. Of course my favorite of his is the Blue Danube waltz, although I love the Emperor waltz as well.

5. Robert Plant – The Principle of Moments. OK, this one will be controversial. It’s over all a so-so album. But I love, love, love the song Big Log (which sometime people call My Love is a Freeway since that’s the refrain in it). It’s the song I just associate with lounging at the beach on at a pool. It’s the perfect song for a desert island even if I have to take the rest of the album to get it.

6. Nirvana – Unplugged. I don’t care about you doubters. This is one of the greatest albums of all time. And even if I didn’t think so I’d take it just for his cover of Leadbelly’s Where Did You Sleep Last Night.

7. Elvis – The Essential Elvis Presley. How could one go without the King? Come on.

8. Johnny Cash – The Legend of Johnny Cash. A good album just because it includes his latter stuff that a lot of collections don’t include.

Of course if you are allowed boxed sets then the above would be much easier. Still, it was hard. I really had to think about why I had no Roy Orbison or Led Zepplin. Or Mozart for that matter. And I came really, really close to replacing Nirvana with Eric Clapton.

For best book that’s somewhat hard. Probably The Essential Peirce (he’s a favorite philosopher of mine) although Heidegger’s Being and Time was a close second. A good text on mathematical physics would be a third choice. But with only one it’s the Peirce book.

For a luxory item I’d get a toilet with a combo bidet. (And preferably an unending supply of toilet paper)

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29 thoughts on “Desert Island Discs

  1. Clark, you’re a rock climber? I like you more all the time.

    As for your topic, my question is: Can’t I just take my ipod? If I have to take albums, can I take my own mixtapes?

    If not, then I’m not sure I could narrow it down to 8. I’d have to have a gun to my head. Assuming that were to happen, I would agree with Joshua Tree. My other choices would probably end up being:

    2. Green Day – International Superhits
    3. Kings of Leon – Only By The Night
    4. The Beach Boys – Sounds of Summer
    5. Springsteen – The Essential Springsteen
    6. The Who – The Ultimate Collection
    7. James Taylor – Greatest Hits Vol. 1&2
    8. Talking Heads – Stop Making Sense

    But that leaves way too much out. So, for my luxury item, I choose my ipod touch, with unlimited charge and a wifi connection. That way I get movies and TV along with my music.

    My book, if I’m forced to choose only one, would probably be TH White, The Once and Future King. I re-read it every couple of years. Of course, my ipod has ebooks on it too…

  2. Desert Island Discs is still running, but, sorry, you can’t take albums- it’s individual tracks! Much harder to work out.

  3. In the 90s there was a radio station in Seattle that had a desert island discs thing. You email in three, and if they choose you, they’ll play three songs from your choices. And then you win stuff. My choices were:

    1. Waterboys – Fisherman’s Blues
    2. Van Morrison – Astral Weeks
    3. Everything But The Girl – Amplified Heart

    They played mine one day and I won a bunch of CDs, most were garbage.

    If I added five more, they’d probably be:

    4. U2 – Unforgettable Fire
    5. Husker Du – Candy Apple Grey
    6. Jackson Browne – Late For the Sky
    7. The Who – Who’s Next
    8. Jeff Buckley – Grace

  4. Physician’s Desk Reference: hollowed out and inside a hatchet, waterproof matches, iodine tablets. And….Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

  5. 1. Santanta- Viva Santana
    2. The Grateful Dead- Skeleton Crew
    3. Metallica- The Black Album
    4. Al Dimiola/John McLaughlin- Passion Grace and Fire
    5. Pink Floyd- Momentary Lapse of Reason
    6. Sarah McLauchlan- Mirrorball
    7. Blues Traveller- Four
    8. Soundgarden- Superunknown.

    A few were easy picks, but the Pink Floyd could have gone to either Animlas or Wish You Were Here- and fell towards MLR because I like Gilmour’s vision better than Water’s whining.

  6. Really? It was tracks? That makes it harder. But then harder to understand unless you are taking 45s to the desert island…

    Tracy, I agree. It’s too bad Gilmour didn’t do more albums in the 90′s when he could have with Pink Floyd. I liked last years Into the Blue but while it had some very Floydish moments it really was more a Gilmour album than a Floyd album.

    MCQ, I really loved The Once and Future King. It’s been years since I last read it though. I need to pick it up again one of these days.

    BTW – while I used to be a big climber since I got married and started this chocolate factory I have to admit I’ve not gone. Plus I’ve gotten very out of shape (and into the more “round” shape) the past few years. Hopefully this spring I can get ripped again.

  7. 1. Genesis – Lamb Lies Down on Broadway
    2. Jane’s Addction – Nothing’s Shocking
    3. Lucio Battisti – I Migliori
    4. Beethoven – The 6th Symphony(George Szell cond.)
    5. The Beta Band – The Three EP’s
    6. Love and Rockets – Express
    7. Andrew Bird – The Mysterious Production of Eggs
    8. Robyn Hitchock – Eye

  8. If we’re talking songs, I’d probably pick the longest songs I could think of.

    Ufomammut – Demontain (28 min)
    Yob – Catharsis (20 min)
    Built to Spill – Cortez the Killer live (20 min)
    etc

    But I’d have to include my three fave songs of all time:

    Van Morrison – Sweet Thing
    Nick Drake – Northern Sky
    Waterboys – Fisherman’s Blues

    And I’d probably tack on KD Lang’s cover of Neil Young’s “Helpless” just because I’ve listened to it hundreds of times and never gotten sick of it.

    Hmm, that’d make two Neil Young covers.

  9. It’s ridiculous to even try and narrow it down to 10 tracks, but here’s a shot at it:

    1. Expecting to Fly – Buffalo Springfield
    2. Waterloo Sunset – The Kinks
    3. Gimme Shelter – The Rolling Stones
    4. Tomorrow Never Knows – The Beatles
    5. Sex Bomb – Flipper
    6. The Four Horsemen – Metallica
    7. Crimson Ballroom – The Hellacopters
    8. Poison – MC5
    9. Together Again – Buck Owens
    10. Summertime Blues – Eddie Cochran

  10. Yeah, I agree Tracey. I’d stick with albums even if it isn’t up to BBC standards. 8 albums would be fine. 8 tracks, even if they were my favorites, would drive me bonkers very quickly.

  11. Which song is the suicide song on Joshua Tree?

    I’m mostly listing albums I have listened to over and over and never get tired of them.

    1. Gretchen Goes to Nebraska – King’s X (So many good tracks, mostly uplifting, rockin’ tunes)
    2. Freezepop Forever – Freezepop
    3. Joshua Tree (absolutely agree!)
    4. Dreamboat Annie – Heart
    5. Memory of Trees – Enya
    6. Back in Black – AC/DC
    7. The Collection – Amy Grant
    8. Rio – Duran Duran

    Book would be hard (assuming you don’t get some sort of how-to book for building a raft, or surviving on a desert island) I’ve probably read Jhereg by Steven Brust 4 times, but it’s so short. Maybe I should take The Stand – if I didn’t have any other distractions, maybe I could finally get all the way through it. ;)

    Luxury: naturally, I’d want my iPod, but maybe an icemaker or microwave oven.

  12. How about 10 songs by a single artist?

    Top 10 Neil Young songs:
    1. Expecting to Fly
    2. Out of My Mind
    3. Powderfinger
    4. Albuquerque
    5. On the Beach
    6. Cortez the Killer
    7. Cowgirl in the Sand
    8. I Believe in You
    9. Like a Hurricane
    10. Helpless

  13. If you have to choose tracks, not albums, then I think Tenacious D’s “Tribute to the Greatest Song in the World” is a must, because it’s kinda like listening to all those great songs you couldn’t bring.

  14. Susan you should run out and get Neil Young’s Unplugged which is pretty fantastic. It also has the best version of one of my favorite Young songs: Harvest Moon. Sadly it only contains more of his mellow stuff.

    And just because folks may not have heard that Plant song I mentioned:

  15. Hopefully this spring I can get ripped again.

    Well the way to do that is to go up and do some serious climbing in Lone Peak Cirque or Gate Buttress. Let’s plan on it!

  16. The eight albums I would want to have:

    1. Chuck Berry – the Great Twenty-Eight
    2. Sam Cooke – the Man and His Music
    3. The Beatles – the White Album
    4. Led Zeppelin – Physical Graffiti
    5. Pink Floyd – Dark Side of the Moon
    6. Bob Dylan – Blonde on Blonde
    7. U2 – The Unforgettable Fire
    8. The Smiths – Meat is Murder

  17. Susan M,
    I also love Fisherman Blues by the Waterboys. I think it’s one of the best uses of a needledrop in the movies when it opens “Waking Ned Devine”.

  18. Cool. I don’t remember that part of the movie, maybe I missed the beginning. Their “This is the Sea” song is used nicely in Riding Giants, too.

  19. I’m really bad at this game. Even albums/songs that I love I normally get tired of eventually or lose my desire to listen to them more than once every year or so. On the other hand, I love hearing new and interesting music.

    Maybe I just wouldn’t do well on a desert island.

  20. 1. Help – the Beatles
    2. Can’t Buy a Thrill – Steely Dan
    3. October Project – October Project
    4. Ommadawn – Mike Oldfield
    5. Dark Side of the Moon – Pink Floyd
    6. John Barleycorn Must Die – Traffic
    7. Comfort Eagle – Cake
    8. Then Play On – Fleetwood Mac

  21. Clark,

    Since nobody else has done it, I’ll call you out on Big Log. Led Zeppelin was greater than the sum of its parts, and while Plant has had the most noteworthy solo career of any of the remaining three, I think that holding that song up to any number of Zeppelin songs demonstrates just how much better the group was than any of its members.

    Were I listening to a classic rock station and they played Big Log, I wouldn’t change the channel, but that is mostly due to the fact that there aren’t any good classic rock stations to change it to.

  22. Susan, Clark: I love Exit! Great buildup. Never really listened to the words, though. (Howling Wind is what I remember of it.)

    (Also, Now and Zen was my favorite of the first two RP albums.)

  23. John outside of the Honeydrippers and his “bluegrass” phase there hasn’t been much I’ve liked. With this one exception.

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