One game we music
snobs fans like to play is Desert Island Discs. Amusingly, I thought Greil Marcus made this up in his 1978 book Stranded, but of course, it has been a BBC radio show since 1942 – I had no idea!
To play, you simply get together and discuss which 8 pieces of music, one book, and one luxury item you would like to have with you if you were stranded indefinitely on a desert island. You are obliged to ignore all of the logic and anti-logic this would involve!
Most of the guests on the radio show are not musicians and not pop culture figures, so I find their musical choices very highbrow!
Whenever I’ve played this game, we’ve just chosen albums. So without further ado, out of the 1985 albums I have in the house (at last count), I would choose:
8. The xx – The xx (2009)
This quiet, droney, minimalist album is the perfect accompaniment to the sadness and despair I would surely feel. But it is masterful and pretty enough to keep me from sinking further in! I would need that catharsis.
7. Hatebreed – The Rise of Brutality (2003)
I despise violence but I love this kick-ass metalcore album. A couple of years ago I had some cancer tests done (they were negative, thankfully) and I played this album often while awaiting a diagnosis. With songs like Live for This and Facing What Consumes You, I would be able to face up to my fears and get my anger out!
6. New York Dolls – New York Dolls (1973)
This is my favourite album of all time. It’s a feel-good rock n’ roll record. That’s all!
5. My Bloody Valentine – Loveless (1991)
It’s a cliche to like this album, but it must be over-exposed for a reason! It’s a shoegaze/noise album with layers upon layers of shrieking sound, but it’s also profound and beautiful (well, if you’re me, anyway). The vocals are buried in the mix, giving it a dreamy feel. I often fall asleep to this album and get jolted awake by the loud bits…in a good way!
4. The Clash – The Clash (US version 1979)
I debated which early punk album to include because I like so many, but for me this is the best. The earlier UK edition had 4 tracks swapped out to create the US edition. As you know, The Clash were one of the more political bands, and they integrated reggae into their sound. I love how the songs capture how youth felt in the Thatcher years, even though it was recorded before she was elected!
3. Mew – And the Glass Handed Kites (2005)
I choose this album for sentimental reasons. Rom and I fell in love to it and with it, and it was much celebrated on the music website through which we met! The album is an update of progressive rock – as far from minimalism as you can get – and sounds very lush and romantic.
2. T.Rex – Electric Warrior (1971)
Because I would want to dance around to Cosmic Dancer and Get It On (Bang a Gong). Wouldn’t you?
1. Motown Classics Gold (1960-1972)
The Motown hits were created as singles, so a compilation album is a great way to experience the era. I know all these songs off by heart and never get tired of singing them. That desert island had better get used to my imperfect voice!
OK, as for a book. The game rules say you can get a Bible or religious/philosophical work as a freebie, along with The Complete Works of Shakespeare. I would choose a book of collected poems, provided that the selection was worldwide and not just Western. I could then spend my time memorizing and performing poems. I would like that!
Finally, as to any other item I could have with me. The rules say it can’t be a person or any item that would assist me in getting off the island. So naturally I would choose a pen and paper. Is that two items? I’d be frantic if I couldn’t mark time, record anything, write down thoughts, and draw. I’d have to resort to scratching things on rocks and trees. Or if I wanted to be really tragic, I could write an opus in the sand and let it wash away at high tide!
Does anyone else want to play?