20 January 2008

Music to be snowed in with

I'm not dead!  I finally gave in to the series of viruses and collapsed into the arms of a binge-athon of the first five seasons of Law and Order:  Criminal Intent.  Vincent D'Onofrio's character is interesting, but what I kept thinking about was how seriously I'd be screwed if I were ever interrogated that way.  So many of the things they assume are just alternate-reality to me.

Although I wasn't doing much blogging, I was also thinking about music.  I was propped up in bed with my laptop with WiFi and my iPod with my whole music library and a stack of books next to me, and I started laughing about the whole idea of Desert Island Music, or Movies, or Books, or whatever.  You know, the old standard interview question:  If you were going to be stranded on a desert island, what album/movie/book/whatever would you take with you?"

I would like to say that if I were going to be dumped in the middle of anywhere remote and dangerous, I would be thinking about Bowie knife, metal buckets, rope, cord, wire, heavy contractor-grade garbage bags, sharpening stone, big hat, warm socks, and whatever else seemed likely to help me stay alive.  I would be worried about my Leatherman and not a solar charger for the iPod.  So I would reframe this as "If you were going to be snowed in a nice comfortable place with power and supplies and all for a couple of months, what albums would you take?"

I would also like to say that I have actually done this.  I mean, the "what music would you take?" and not being dropped into the Gobi desert in my sneakers.  I had to run away from home to escape from an abusive relationship, with just what I could fit into my car with two kids.  I thought I would probably be able to get most of my stuff later, but I knew I couldn't count on it.  So I had to give a lot of though to what books, clothes, etc. I would grab on my way out the door.

Here is the sad truth:  I was so concerned about getting my essential reference books and out of print books and papers for projects I was working on and a working set of kitchen gear and toys and figuring out how to get the kids out without a scene and realizing I had no place to go and all, that I completely forgot to think about music.  So what I had when I drove away and for the next 5 months was just the discs I happened to have in my car leftover from a recent long drive.

This stack of albums was not what I would have made my canonical Snowed-In Music list.  I was pretty low, and so I was overstocked on "I am blue but I reckon I will survive somehow" songs.  There was also albums that I just like to listen to for the particular mood I was in when I was picking the music for the trip.  I wasn't in the mood for anything loud or hard at all that day, so I put in a lot of twangy ballads.  And I smacked myself on the back of the wrist and made myself drop the Queen and Collective Soul, so that was completely missing, because I always listen to them over and over and wanted to give them a rest for a few days.

When I started thinking about it this week, I realized how remarkable that I still like the music in that stack at all.  I listened to it all over and over, because it was all I had.  And yet I still listen to it and enjoy it without having flashbacks to those difficult days.  It passed the field test for repeat listening.

So, here is my official field-tested list of 48 Albums to Take to a Snowing In--the ones I actually took, other essentials that I listen to frequently, and some new ones I think are worth a try.  To make the game more interesting, I made myself choose just one album from each artist, and only albums I actually own right now.  (Why 48?  That's how many disks my biggest carrier holds.)

  1. Maura O'Connell, Blue is the Colour of Hope
  2. Rodney Crowell, Houston Kid
  3. Paul Thorn, Mission Temple Fireworks Stand
  4. Hedningarna, Kaksi
  5. Gordon Lightfoot, Summertime Dream
  6. Deep Forest, Boheme
  7. Santana, Best of Santana
  8. Audioslave, Audioslave (the one harder ringer in the stack)
  9. Buckwheat Zydeco, Buckwheat Zydeco Story
  10. Flaco Jimenez, Partners
  11. Birmingham Symphony, Beethoven's Seventh
  12. O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack
  13. Cold Mountain soundtrack
  14. Queen, Bohemian Rhapsody
  15. Collective Soul, Disciplined Breakdown
  16. Soundgarden, Superunknown
  17. k.d. lang, Shadowland
  18. Songcatcher soundtrack
  19. Mark Knopfler, Cal soundtrack
  20. Beethoven's Ninth
  21. Michael Tolcher, I Am
  22. ACRES, 3 Minute Movies
  23. Alice in Chains, Dirt
  24. Booker T. and the MGs, Soul Men
  25. Concrete Blonde, Bloodletting
  26. Daniel Lanois, Acadie
  27. Ryan Adams, Heartbreaker
  28. The White Stripes, Elephant
  29. Drowning Pool, Full Circle
  30. Hoobastank, The Reason
  31. Don Williams, Twentieth Century Masters
  32. Mr. Whirly, Mr. Whirly
  33. Various Artists, Essential Gershwin
  34. Various Artists, De Lovely soundtrack
  35. John Hiatt, Perfectly Good Guitar
  36. Lee Mellor, Ghost Town Heart
  37. Texas Tornados, A Zone of our Own
  38. Foo Fighters, In Your Honor
  39. Matthew Sweet, Altered Beast
  40. Muse, Black Holes and Revelations
  41. Robbie Robertson, Storyville
  42. Screaming Trees, Sweet Oblivion
  43. Mudvayne, Lost and Found
  44. Gin Blossoms, New Miserable Experience
  45. Broken Sunday, Identity
  46. Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, Time - The Revelator
  47. Plusminus X, State of Mind
  48. Sly & The Family Stone, Anthology
It hurt to be cut down to a dozen or so albums as I was. It even hurts to cut down to 48. The best part about the 160 gig iPod is that I am a few years away from needing to choose like this. I can always just take it ALL.

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