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Sunday Night Journal — August 19, 2007

Pop Music for the Desert Island

(Not sure how this is going to display, so it may be shifting around for a while.)

I knew I was going to be pretty busy this weekend, so, just for fun, I dredged up this list. I have always resisted the sort of name-your-top-N albums/songs/artists games that pop music fans like to play, because I’m too indecisive and there never seems to be enough room alloted to the category for everything that deserves to be there. But a co-worker brought it up repeatedly, sending me his top 10 this and that, so I started to produce a Twenty-Five Best Albums list. I quickly discovered I couldn’t stand to limit myself, so I started adding multiple albums per artist, then allowed compilations, then broke out of the twenty-five limit and started calling it my Desert Island list—you know, the music you would want with you if you were shipwrecked (with, most improbably some means of listening to music). I think it was eighteen months or so ago that I first wrote this, and I made several additions and deletions while formatting it. I’m sure I’ll do the same if I look at it a year from now.

  • The Allman Brothers Band: The Fillmore Concerts
  • The Beatles: Revolver, Magical Mystery Tour 
  • Chuck Berry: His Best, volumes 1 and 2 
  • Big Country: The Crossing 
  • Jack Bruce: Songs for a Tailor 
  • Buffalo Springfield: Again 
  • The Byrds: favorites from the first five albums 
  • Jimmy Cliff & others: The Harder They Come 
  • Cocteau Twins: Treasure, Aikea-Guinea 
  • Leonard Cohen: Songs from a Room, Recent Songs, selections from Various Positions and I’m Your Man 
  • Julee Cruise: Floating Into the Night 
  • Donovan: Sunshine Superman, Mellow Yellow 
  • Nick Drake: Fruit Tree 
  • Bob Dylan: Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited, Blonde on Blonde 
  • Everly Brothers: favorites 
  • Fairport Convention: Liege and Leaf, What We Did on Our Holidays 
  •  Emmy Lou Harris: Wrecking Ball 
  • Jimi Hendrix: Are You Experienced?, favorites from Electric Ladyland 
  • Joe Henry: Shuffletown 
  • Buddy Holly: 20 Golden Greats 
  • Rupert Hine: Waving Not Drowning 
  • The Incredible String Band: The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter, Wee Tam, Big Huge 
  • The Innocence Mission: Befriended, We Walked in Song 
  • Jethro Tull: Stand Up 
  • King Crimson: In the Court of the Crimson King 
  • The Kinks: Something Else, The Village Green Preservation Society 
  • Love: Forever Changes 
  • The Mermen: A Glorious Lethal Euphoria 
  • Van Morrison: Astral Weeks, Moondance, Veedon Fleece 
  • Pink Floyd: favorites from More, Ummagumma, Meddle, Obscured by Clouds 
  • Portishead: Dummy 
  • Procol Harum Procol Harum, A Salty Dog 
  • Judee Sill: Heart Food 
  • Steeleye Span: large selection from 1970-75 
  • Slowdive: Just For a Day, Souvlaki 
  • Ultravox: Vienna, favorites from other albums 
  • Tom Waits: Rain Dogs, Franks Wild Years, numerous favorites from Swordfishtrombone, Mule Variations, Blood Money, Real Gone

It was interesting to find that the largest total amount of music from any one artist comes from Tom Waits. I started to replace the King Crimson album with something by Yes—basically I wanted to include one ’70s prog-rock album, but it could have been one of several. I’m not sure about Pink Floyd, but the songs I have in mind are the spacey, dreamy ones, like “Fearless” from Meddle. Veedon Fleece is an addition—I had not heard it for some years when I originally made the list. Hmm, St. Dominic’s Preview and/or Common One should perhaps be on there, too. And what about Al Stewart?...



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