I recently read an article that asked the question “If you were stranded on a desert island, what 10 albums would you choose to have with you?” This particular desert island has electricity, as well as a turntable and speakers, so all you need to do is select the albums. I threw that last part in there for those anal retentive types who might ask, “How do you plan to play them on a desert island?” Hey, we’re imagining here.
Okay, before I go any further, I think I need to address the term album for the whippersnappers not familiar with the magic of ole. An album is a big record, or, if you prefer, a big, black, CD made of vinyl. You play these on a turntable or record player. Recently, a guy who’s in the old album business told me a young man walked into his establishment and asked, not for a record player, but if he had any “vinyl players” for sale. We laughed, oh yes, we did laugh.
Anyway, back to the albums. It didn’t take long before I realized whoever decided to pose this question didn’t love music as much as I love music, or was a sadist. But, I thought I’d give it a try and choose just 10 albums for my desert island retreat. Needless to say, problems arose immediately.
Naturally, I started with Bob Dylan and The Rolling Stones, my favorites of favorites, and after choosing only the albums I couldn’t live without, I had used up eight of my 10 selections. As for Dylan, I chose “The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan,” “Bringing it all Back Home,” Highway 61 Revisited,” and “Blonde on Blonde,” while my Stones selections were “Beggars Banquet,” “Let It Bleed,” “Sticky Fingers,” and “Exile on Main Street.” Those eight seminal albums are the basis of what was, what is and what will be. You figure it out.
With just two selections left, I had to be very careful. However, my ninth selection was an easy choice. Yes, a desert island wouldn’t be bearable without Gram Parson’s “Grievous Angel,” and, of course, I couldn’t go anywhere without The Band, so I would need “Music from Big Pink.” But then I thought, how in the name of all that is holy can I go traipsing off to a desert island without Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run,” Neil Young’s “Harvest,” The Allman Brothers “At Fillmore East,”or Warren Zevon’s “Excitable Boy.” And, hey, wait a minute, I would also need “Led Zeppelin 4,” and, for that matter, Cream’s “Disraeli Gears.”
As my thoughts raced through the annals of the great albums, I cursed myself for leaving out The Who; of course, I would have to have “Who’s Next.” But that wasn’t the only mistake I had made. Yes. I would need to include Jimi Hendrix’s “Electric Ladyland,” Elton John’s “Madman Across the Water,” and Janis Joplin’s “Pearl” in my luggage. Just when I started to settle down, I remembered The Eagles’ “Desperado,” The Beatles’ “White Album” and Kris Kristofferson’s “The Silver Tongued Devil and I.”
I also realized I had forgotten to include the Velvet Underground’s self-titled album with Nico, as well as Arlo Guthrie’s “Alice’s Restaurant,” and The Byrd’s “Mr. Tambourine Man.” I then thought I should include some more mellow sounds, so naturally I would want James Taylor’s “Sweet Baby James” and Carole King’s “Tapestry.” However, you never want to be short on rock, so Humble Pie’s “Rockin’ the Fillmore” would be a necessity, as would The J. Geils Band’s “The Morning After.”
It then came to me that all cannot be rosy on a desert island, so a man would need an album to soothe his soul; he would need the songs of an angel for those trying times. And no performer’s voice comes closer to that of an angel than Emmylou Harris, which means I would be packing “Heartaches & Highways” for the trip.
Now, as you have probably surmised, I have gone over the required 10 albums by just a bit, but I have shown some constraint. Except for Dylan and The Stones, I have limited all my other favorite artists to just one album, and there are many other of my favorites who don’t have a single album on the list. Still, I’m at 32 albums. So, this is by no means a definitive list of the greatest albums I’ve heard in my over 64 years of existence or of the ones I own (around 600), but it is a good start, especially for a desert island.
The Mistress of the Manor’s list, I should point out, since she strongly advised me to, would be a lot different. The Mistress was not only upset for the lack of Motown representation on my list, but the time frame in which all my choices reside. You see, with the exception of Zevon’s “Excitable Boy,” which was released in 1978, and Emmylou’s “Heartaches & Highways,” which was released in 2005, all my other selections fall between 1963 and 1975.
In fact, 11 of the albums I’ve chosen were released in 1971, the year I turned 21. A coincidence, I think not. What I think is the word got around that I would officially be an adult that year, and all the guys and gals wanted to make sure they put out some great stuff in celebration of that historic event. To them, I say thank you good rockers.
Despite this sound reasoning, the Mistress seems to be saying I’m an old fuddy-duddy, whatever the hell that is, so just to show her, and you readers, I’m not stuck in the past I’ve decided to add three selections to my list. Those would be Jack White’s “Blunderbuss” from 2012, Adele’s “21” from 2011 and Old Crow Medicine Show’s “Tennessee Pusher” from 2008. Now, I hope everybody’s happy. Bon voyage.