Stranded, on a desert island. No one else there, no TV, no internet. Nothing else to do but listen to music (your eight favourite tracks of all-time) and read. The Complete Works of Shakespeare will keep you going for a while, and so will the Bible – or the appropriate religious/theological writings for the non-Christian castaways. Even if you are not of a religious persuasion (which I’m not), there is plenty of reading matter there to pass the time.
But what about the tunes? Which eight tracks would you take, tunes to listen to on endless repeat or endless shuffle? Rock, pop or classical? What about something from a musical? Would you choose tracks from the same artist, or mix-and-match? Last time, I started the ball rolling with my first three ‘desert island discs’. I should clarify: they are in no particular order. The first trio are not necessarily my favourite tracks ever. It doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is that I get to select them.
Imagine not being able to choose your personal favourites. Imagine those eight tracks were chosen for you. Imagine being stranded with such crimes against music as B*Witched, Justin Bieber or Ed Sheeran. The very definition of pain and suffering.
Fortunately, you have a say in your own musical purgatory. So, with that in mind, let’s press on with my next three selections.
Born to Run– Bruce Springsteen
The title track from Springsteen’s third studio album, I absolutely love the guitar-heavy intro on Born to Run and the sheer energy and excitement throughout. It’s a kind of love letter to Wendy, but it’s more about release, freedom, breaking out from small-town America. I love the saxophone of Clarence Clemmons which adds to the celebratory tone of the track, the sense of optimism and opportunity.
‘The Boss’ is one of the all-time greats. His gravelly, distinctive voice was (and still is) the voice of working-class New Jersey; his blue-collar roots shine through his work and although he’s predominantly a rock musician, he draws on influences from all types – jazz, country, soul, blues, folk. His music seems an intensely personal reflection on his background and experiences, and as the man himself once said:
“I spent most of my life as a musician measuring the distance between the American Dream and American reality.“
Wish You Were Here – Pink Floyd
“We’re just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl, year after year, running over the same old ground. What have we found? the same old fears. Wish you were here.”
Genius. This is the best Pink Floyd song bar none. The title track from their ninth album, it was (like Born to Run) released in 1975, coincidentally the year in which I was born. Maybe that’s why I love these tracks so much – great things happened in 1975! David Gilmour is on record as saying Wish You Were Here is his favourite Floyd album, and who am I to argue with the great man?
It has to be said, I’m not a big fan of Floyd’s very early work, but from Dark Side of the Moon onwards, their music totally resonates. It’s a huge source of regret and disappointment that the band and Roger Waters couldn’t work out their differences – such a huge opportunity missed, and one can only wonder at what might have been, what classics they could have produced. Waters’ and Gilmour’s solo stuff just doesn’t have the same impact as their work together with Floyd, but I think we can all be grateful for the unbelievable music they did give to the world.
November Rain – Guns N‘ Roses
A ‘tour de force’, you might say. Eight minutes and 57 seconds of pure rock power ballad on Use Your Illusion I from 1991 (although the single was released in early 1992). There is a symphonic edge to the track with strings throughout, and there’s a wonderful Slash guitar solo around the four-minute mark. The video is pretty decent as well, although that would not be an option on the desert island.
I’m a big fan of hard rock and was 12 when GNR released their debut album, Appetite for Destruction. CDs were just becoming widely available, and Appetite was one of the very first I ever bought; as far as I am concerned, it remains their best work. Despite the changes in line-up and GNR not releasing anything between 1993 and 2008, they are still as popular and as relevant today as they were in the mid-80s and early 90s when they were at the peak of their powers.
Six down, two to go. Plus: my book choice and my luxury item. All will be revealed in the third and final post in this series.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and let me know what tracks you would choose.