Let’s talk about music.

The English language is interesting in the fact that I can say both “I did band in high school” and “In high school, I did band”, and yet find that the second statement is far more accurate. Not that band was the totality of my existence, I had school work and such courtesy of the IB program, but when I wasn’t doing school stuff, I was probably doing something music related. Usually involving one of the three bands I was in. Of course, I’ve also been playing piano outside of band since I was in Kindergarten, plus there was my involvement in my church’s music program. So music is a big part of my life.

I’m not sure where the idea of a desert island playlist comes from (there’s a British radio show that does something like it, but I’m not sure that’s where it started), but the basic concept is that you pick a few albums that you would take with you to a desert island if you had to live there for the rest of your life. Some go by songs, especially after the decline of the album in the past decade, but I’m a traditionalist so albums it is. These are ten albums that I would be able to listen to for the rest of my life.

10. Someone’s Got my Voodoo Doll by The Charles Bubeck Quartet

Someone's Got My Voodoo Doll

(Distributed by Golden Media Productions)

This album was picked more for the artist than the album itself. Charles Bubeck has influenced my opinions of music and how I play music more than any other artist, and I can say that for a fact because for 13 years he taught me how to play the piano. I owe a great deal to him both musically and personally. As for the music, (the video isn’t a song from the album as far as I can tell, but I couldn’t find any other video online of him performing) it’s very similar to the Vince Guaraldi Trio– who are best known for their work in the Peanuts specials– but the addition of the vibraphone adds a layer of complexity and Mr. Bubeck’s technical and improvisational prowess is evident in every song. But then again, I’m probably biased. :)

9. The Captain and the Kid by Elton John

File:Captainkid.jpg

(Distributed by Interscope, Mercury)

Elton John is a titan of Pop, consistently turning out great music since the start of his career in 1962. The Captain and the Kid is his second autobiographical album (after Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboys), and was released in 2006. While I am a huge fan of Elton John in general, this is one of the few albums where I know every word, possibly every note, that is coming. This album was the soundtrack to my underclassman experience in high school, particularly in reference to my experiences with marching band (more on that later). As with Captain Fantastic, Bernie Taupin’s lyrics blend seamlessly with Elton John’s experiences and emotions. The hard edges from songs like “Bitter Fingers” and “Someone Saved My Life Tonight” are present as well, possibly even more so, in “Just Like Noah’s Ark” and “And the House Fell Down”.

Highlights:
– “Postcards From Richard Nixon”
-“I Must Have Lost it on the Wind”
-“The Captain and the Kid”

8. Disney’s Fantasia (Legacy Collection)

(Distributed by Walt Disney Records)

This seems both self-explainitory and incredibly odd. On the one hand, it’s Fantasia, one of the best collections of Classical music ever put to film– I would even argue that it’s on par with Kubrick’s selections for 2001. On the other hand, Fantasia?!? Of all the Disney soundtracks, the artsy one that almost bankrupted the company? Even I will admit that the best Disney soundtrack is The Lion King (speaking of Elton John…), but here’s the thing– these albums are the only ones I’m allowed on the island, and they need to last a lifetime. After a while, I’d get tired of “Hakuna Matata”. Fantasia has some of the most complex music Disney has ever dealt with, stuff that even experts find new things in with each listen.

Highlights:
-“The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”
-“The Rite of Spring”
-“Night on Bald Mountain/Ave Maria (Finale)”

7. The Phantom of the Opera (Original London Cast) by Sir Andrew Lloyd Weber

(Distributed by Polydor Records)

What, you didn’t see that coming? Speaking of albums I know by heart, Phantom might have been the first one. I’ve talked enough about why I love Phantom, so if you haven’t read that blog post go read it. Maybe with my solitude I could comfortably work out my upper range and be able to hit Meg’s part again.

Highlights:
-“The Phantom of the Opera”
-“Music of the Night”
-“Past the Point of No Return”

6. Denton Stokes Retirement Concert and Reception by the Class of 2009 Robinson Symphonic Band

Ask any band director worth their salt who Denny Stokes is and they’ll probably know at least a few things about him. Run in the right circles in the music world and you’ll probably meet someone who was taught by him. Earning a Sudler Flag of Honor is the highest achievement any band director could hope to achieve. Mr. Stokes has 2. This concert might have been the best concert I have or ever will have the pleasure of attending. I went through Robinson’s HS band program during the, erm, tumultuous four years after his retirement, and his legacy can still be felt there to this day. This album is my way of taking a bit of Ram Pride with me.

Highlights:
-“The Pines of Rome”
-“The Robinson Fight Song”
-The duet that Adam and Beverly played that I can’t remember the name of I’m sorry my iPod died and I can’t get the charger to work sorry

5. The Labyrinth soundtrack by David Bowie

File:Labyrinth (David Bowie album) coverart.jpg

(Distributed by EMI)

There are certainly far less embarrassing Bowie albums I could have chosen. Let’s Dance, for instance. The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars, maybe. Aladdin Sane, even. But there’s a lot of good stuff on the album, and in terms of personal significance, Labyrinth was (probably) my first real introduction to the artist, Martian, and sometimes Goblin King David Bowie. The incidental music is actually really good– it gives off that same strange, otherworldly vibe that the movie does. Bowie’s performance is spot on, as always, giving a real pathos to the Goblin King in songs like “As the World Falls Down” and “Within You”. Even “Chilly Down” isn’t that bad. …Okay, no, it is. And that green screen effect. Oh, God, the green screen effect.

Meh, whatever, it’s my list.

Highlights:
-“Underground”
-“As the World Falls Down”
-“Dance, Magic, Dance”

4. Hilary Duff by Hilary Duff

File:Hilary Duff selftitled.png

(Distributed by Hollywood Records)

Speaking of embarrassing albums…

You know how they say that the music you listen to in Middle School will never leave you? Well, this album was what I listened to in Middle School. Yet another that I know by heart, it reminds me of who and what I used to be, and where I wanted to go. It inspired some of the writing that I did at that age (which I’d provide an example of, but I lost the flash drive it was all on over a year ago), and the message of many of the songs were what I needed at the time. As opposed to whatever “A load of good cornflakes, cocking and bullet” means.

Wait, those aren’t the lyrics? (I kid, I kid, I do like FOB too.)

Highlights:
-“Dangerous to Know”
-“Jericho”
-“Underneath This Smile”

3. Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi by PUFFY

File:Puffy AmiYumi - Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi.jpg

(Distributed by Epic, Sony Music Soundtrax)

Remember when Cartoon Network was good? Yeah, me neither, but there were always a few good shows within the mix. Less so now, but that’s another post. Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi was a cartoon based around the JPop group that sang the Teen Titans theme song. I am not making this up. Honestly, the music is good– fairly standard JPop as far as I can tell, though I’m certainly not a connoisseur of the genre. But since I mentioned it– I would not be the writer I am today without Teen Titans, and that theme song is kick ass. I also probably wouldn’t be into Avatar: The Last Airbender without the Titans, and, by extension The Legend of Korra, and Anime in general. Hooray for gateway fandoms!

Highlights:
“Planet Tokyo”
-“Sunrise”
-“Teen Titans Theme”

2. Shudder by Bayside

File:Shudderbayside.jpg

(Distributed by Victory Records)

When I was younger, my Godfather would make these mix albums called “DJ Bea” and later “DJ Redd”, named after his dogs. They would be kid-friendly songs that weren’t necessarily songs made for kids. I was introduced to a lot of artists this way (and retroactively recognized some as well, including Bowie, Frank Sinatra, and frigging Fall Out Boy (should I have added Save Rock ‘n’ Roll to this list..?)), and one of them was Bayside. Both of the songs that he used for the mixes were from this album, and it’s a solid album throughout. I don’t know much about the band, but from the Wikipedia page, they seem to be doing well for themselves. Good on them.

Highlights:
-“Call to Arms”
-“Roshambo”
-“You’ve Always Been”

1. The Stranger by Billy Joel

File:Thestranger1977.jpg

(Distributed by Family Productions/Columbia Records)

This album is pure gold, back to front. From the title track, to the singles everyone knows, to the deep cuts. Though how deep of a deep cut can you get on an album that Rolling Stone ranked in the top 100 best albums of all time? Okay, it’s at 70, but that’s pretty good, considering the competition. From the haunting whistled lietmotif of the title track, to the earnest pleading of “Only the Good Die Young”, this album is not one to miss. This one also came into my life around the same time as The Captain and the Kid and Hillary Duff, so this one is sticking with me for a while as well.

Highlights:
-“Vienna”
-“She’s Always a Woman”
-“Get it Right the First Time”

Curious about some of the things I’ve talked about? I put as much of the music as I could find on a Spotify playlist for you all. Go check it out!