10.22.2008

Dave's Desert Island Discs

The basic idea for this post has been brewing for a few months now, long enough that Kristen finally beat me to it. Whereas Kristen shared the defining music of her teenage years, I have decided to play the old "what albums would you want if you were stranded on a desert island that just happens to have a stereo and electricity but still no way to contact anyone for help" game. By the way, if any of you out there are short on new post ideas for your own blog, feel free to steal this one.

A few rules that I have decided to impose on myself:

• Only one album from each artist (forcing me to make some tough choices).
• No greatest hits or compilations of any kind (that would be cheating).
• Limit the list to 10 (so as not to bore you all to death with my top 50).
• Ignore the iPod factor since it essentially makes this list obsolete. It's not about the technology anyway, it's about the music! Plus "Desert Island Discs" sounds a lot snappier than "Desert Island Playlist."

Each album has been listed chronologically, not according to when it was originally released, but to when I first discovered it (to the best of my memory). And away we go.

Junior High

1. 1984
//
Van Halen

Yes, the synthesizers are dated and cheesy. And David Lee Roth's lyrics are incredibly juvenile. Also, there is a baby smoking a marlboro on the cover. But you know what? I really couldn't care less. This is 33 minutes of pure, unadulterated rock 'n' roll bliss, and the quintessential Van Halen album as far as I'm concerned. It takes me back to when Eddie Van Halen was known for being a guitar god rather than for being certifiably insane.
I get up, and nothin' gets me down, you got it tough, I've seen the toughest around, and I know, baby, just how you feel, you've got to roll with the punches to get to what's real // Jump
2. Achtung Baby
// U2

This is one of the afformentioned tough choices I had to make—Achtung Baby or The Joshua Tree? What gives Achtung "the edge" in my mind is the fact that the splintered, feedback-drenched opening guitar riff of "Zoo Station" immediately followed the holier than thou pair of Joshua Tree and Rattle & Hum. At the zenith of their power, Bono and the boys turned their signature sound completely on its ear and managed to ascend even higher. Everything you know is wrong indeed.
Time is a train, makes the future the past, leaves you standing in the station, your face pressed up against the glass // Zoo Station
3. Ten
//
Pearl Jam

While Nirvana got most of the credit for ushering in the grunge era, I was always partial to Pearl Jam. How could I not include Ten on this list? It plays like a greatest hits of the 90's. "Even Flow?" Check. "Alive?" Check. "Black?" Check. "Jeremy?" Check. Something happens to me every time the opening chords of this album roar to life. I become that weird guy walking down the street wearing a flannel hoodie, head down and growling every word.
Is something wrong, she said, Well of course there is, you're still alive, she said, Oh, and do I deserve to be, Is that the question, and if so...if so...who answers...who answers... // Alive
4. The Blue Album
//
Weezer

This is one of those trendy albums from the heyday of alternative that has just never gone away, in fact its legend continues to grow. Weezer still releases a new album every couple of years, but they have never managed to totally recapture the geek spirit that pervades their debut from start to finish. As tradition dictated, my friend Spencer and I would listen to the 8 minute epic "Only in Dreams" at the end of every band trip. I am most grateful knowing that my eternal companion also holds this one in such high regard.
I can't confront you, I never could do, that which might hurt you, to try and be cool, when I say, this way, is a waterslide away from you that takes you futher everyday, so be cool // Say It Ain't So
High School

5. Boingo
// Oingo Boingo

Oingo Boingo seemed content perfecting their bouncy, horn-filled sound of the '80s until Danny Elfman fell into film music. I believe that key influence is what led to this, their dark, angst ridden swan song. They sound like a completely different group here. The album, along with the creepy music video for Insanity, became something of a rite of passage for our group of friends. The 16 minute album closer "Change" eventually replaced "Only in Dreams" as the finale of our bus rides.
It hurts my brain to think of all the stupid things I've said, and if I could change the future I would change the past instead // Change
6. Violator
// Depeche Mode

Sure I had been exposed to Depeche Mode by my sisters, but it wasn't until the '80s music renaissance that my friends and I experienced during our junior year of high school that I really discovered them. The culmination of a decade of increasing popularity and musical growth, Violator is where Depeche Mode finally put all the pieces together. It is the career-defining album which all following releases are compared to by critics and fans as their best since, or not as good as.
Vows are spoken to be broken, feelings are intense, words are trivial, pleasures remain, so does the pain, words are meaningless and forgettable // Enjoy the Silence
7. Crash
// Dave Matthews Band

It is a little known fact that I actually hated "What Would You Say" when it first started getting radio play. As "Ants Marching" followed, I grew to tolerate and eventually like Dave Matthews Band. I purchased Under the Table and Dreaming and Crash, but only listened to them casually. Then, fatefully, I saw them live. Their studio albums were suddenly opened up to me. While you have to see them live to truly appreciate them, Crash gets the closest to capturing that loose, improvisational spirit. PS - RIP Leroi Moore.
I say my hell is the closet I'm stuck inside, can't see the light, and my heaven is a nice house in the sky, got central heating, and I'm alright // So Much To Say
8. Whatever and Ever Amen
//
Ben Folds Five

I can still hear "Brick" playing on the manual dial radio of my '84 Nissan Sentra while driving to Gringo's on cold winter afternoons. The perfect mix of sarcastic piano rock and introspective ballads, the unique approach of Ben Folds Five seemed tailor-made for my peculiar sensibilities. Admittedly, "Song For The Dumped" might not speak to me quite as much as it did when I was a teenage boy disgruntled by the erratic behavior of certain teenage girls, but the rest of the album holds up great.
Come on baby now throw me a right to the chin, don't just stare like you never cared, I know you did, but you just smile like a bank teller, blankly telling me have a nice life // Selfless, Cold and Composed
College

9. A Rush of Blood to the Head
//
Coldplay

The dawn of the millennium was a dark time for music, thanks to the reign of disposable pop acts like Britney Spears and NSYNC. I had almost given up on ever liking "new" music again when I began to take notice of up-and-coming Coldplay. While watching the 2003 VMA's, I was immediately impressed by their understated, emotive performance of "The Scientist," which came in stark contrast to the elaborate, superficial acts that had preceded it. Yes, the time had finally arrived to invest in something new.
Look at earth from outer space, everyone must find a place, give me time and give me space, give me real, don't give me fake // Politik
Married Life

10. Plans
// Death Cab For Cutie

Coldplay's emergence cleared the way for a tidal wave of earnest indie bands, many of which I happen to enjoy, but none more so than Death Cab For Cutie. Singer/songwriter Ben Gibbard has perfected the art of being melancholy with a seemingly endless array of metaphors for unrequited love and longing. Aging lovers who have drifted apart like brothers on a hotel bed? Brilliant! It is a toss-up between Plans and the equally great Transatlanticism, but I am once again giving the nod to the album that served as my introduction to the group.
On the night you left I came over, and we peeled the freckles from our shoulders, our brand new coats so flushed and pink, and I knew your heart I couldn't win, 'cause the season's change was a conduit, and we'd left our love in our summer skin // Summer Skin
Honorable Mention:
The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner // Ben Folds Five
Transatlanticism // Death Cab For Cutie
III Sides to Every Story // Extreme
New Miserable Experience // Gin Blossoms
Get Ready // New Order
The Joshua Tree // U2

3 comments:

Team Ritz! said...

Dave, everyone knows that all you need to contact help from a deserted island are a couple coconuts you can craft into a radio...

christie said...

I was wondering how long it would be before Dave would post his own musical musings..not long apparently :-)

Ben said...

Dave I don't think we would have been friends based on our music tastes alone...in fact, I imagine if we ever worked together in the same room we would spend our days playing dueling jukeboxes.