The long-running BBC radio programme, 'Desert Island Discs', has inspired this thread. The guest of the week is asked which eight discs - in practice eight tracks - they would want to have with them if stranded on a desert island. And which one of those eight would they want to rescue from being washed away. Of all the countless songs, classical pieces, comedy sketches, great speeches, poetry readings, etc, etc, would ABBA even make your final eight? If this idea interests you, I'd love to know your choices with maybe a few words as to the reasons for your choices. But that's by no means a requirement. 😀 I appreciate that it's kind of similar to the 'Favourite Tracks' thread I started some while ago, but I think it's much more focused and challenging!
Here are my eight (not in any particular order):
1) Every Time We Say Goodbye. Ella Fitzgerald. Without resorting to obvious 'emoting', she just sings Cole Porter's words and music, and lets the song work its magic for me. Sheer class and artistry.
2) Bodhisattva. Steely Dan. The 12-bar sequence gets a serious rocky workout! I'm a guitar freak, and played loud this track shakes me out of any negative mood.
3) I Loves You Porgy. Nina Simone. I love this Gershwin song from 'Porgy and Bess', anyway; and I find this version beautiful and moving. She was also a very talented pianist.
4) Slow Movement. Piano Concerto in G. Maurice Ravel. When the flute just glides in with the orchestra after the solo piano opening, well, it's one of most spine-tingling moments in music I've ever heard. I wouldn't have imagined that a classical piece could make me cry, but this proves otherwise.
5) I Will. The Beatles. I could have chosen any number of Beatles tracks, but this one particularly appeals to me. It demonstrates Paul McCartney's wonderful gift for beautiful, natural, melody.
6) Prelude No.2 J.S.Bach. Jacques Loussier Trio. I like this one because it combines three of my favourite things in music: Bach, jazz, and the beautiful touch and rhythmic fluidity of Jacques Loussier's piano playing - and the double bass, and drums.
7) Hearts and Bones. Paul Simon. I think that I read somewhere that Paul Simon considers this to be his best song, so I'm glad I like it so much. One of the few musicians, in my opinion, whose words and music are equally good.
8) Eye In The Sky. Alan Parsons Project. If I had to choose the one pop/rock track for me, this would be it. I like everything about it.
The one disc I'd want to rescue: the Ravel,
It's a task and a half, of course, to choose just eight, but I found it worth the try! 😁
... It's a task and a half, of course, to choose just eight, but I found it worth the try! 😁
Thanks, I enjoyed checking all of those out on YouTube. I don't come across too many Alan Parson's Project references these days! Tales of Mystery & Imagination just snuck in as the last album that I bought before Punk came along and erased the Progressive genre from my record collection.
Here's four of my eight; can't believe what I have had to leave out. I'm afraid that ABBA got nowhere near the cut, though Abba on the Jukebox by Trembling Blue Stars was in with a shout.
1) Allegri's Miserere for its ethereal harmonies and soaring vocal purity.
2) Do It - Pink Fairies. The definitive Punk song.. five years before Punk! Perfect intro riff. The lyrics should get me off my backside and building that life raft. 'Rock & Roll and the message is: do it'.
3) So What - Miles Davis. That shimmering cymbal at 1:32 kicked off a whole new scene.
4) The Chemistry Between Us - Suede. After 25 years together, my wife and I finally found a piece of music that we both loved. Everything about this song is great, especially the guitar work.
Much as I love ABBA, jens - especially the girls' combined vocals - as with shoshin, I don't think the group would make the cut, even with a second version of my eight. But I agree with Brian Wilson, and you, about The Ronettes - some fantastic pop songs, not only Be My Baby, imo. And there's a good chance I'd include Kate Bush another time. So glad Alan Parsons Project is so highly regarded.
Gosh, am shocked. Not even one ABBA track? How strange. I'd have at least four, maybe more. Possibly Benny's piano version of TDBYC.
One thing I've noticed recently is this - The Beatles aren't as revered as much as I thought they were these days, particularly by young people. This surprised me. Whereas going by some of the 'react to' videos on YouTube ABBA are very highly rated. Still, it's the internet, everyone has an agenda so who knows.
I'm not sure I can really contribute to this thread. Kate Bush would be in there as would Nick Drake and some classical. I simply don't think I could narrow it down. I'd have to literally be rushing to that lifeboat with only minutes to grab what I could.
Impossible task. I had problems compiling a double CD of my all-time favourites once. But ABBA would definitely make it. Actually I think I'd spend weeks and weeks pondering over what to choose only to grab ABBA The Album in the last second, hoping they will let me in the boat with its nine tracks instead of just eight.
I bet all the guests invited on the programme over the decades thought it was an impossible task, too! 😉
Allowing for the possibly middle-class bias of the guests and audience of the programme, at least in the earlier years, I still find the statistics for the choices over the years fascinating:
Mozart, Beethoven, and Bach are the "big three".
As at 2011, a few of the most 'popular' tracks selected by BBC listeners, tabulated from their choices of eight, were:
4. Queen - Bohemian Rhapsody 14. Beatles - Hey Jude 17. Kinks - Waterloo Sunset 23. Beach Boys - God Only Knows 37. Eric Clapton - Layla 46. David Bowie - Life On Mars 51. Louis Armstrong - What A Wonderful World 61. Gerry Rafferty - Baker Street 67. ABBA - Dancing Queen
As might be guessed, The Beatles occur quite a few times in the top 100.
I don't particularly like Bohemian Rhapsody although I can see why people rave about it. Life On Mars- yes, I get that.
I have to say I think that most of those songs are reflective of some kind of old musty fuddy fuddy and lacks any diversity. It's too rooted in the past and where are the females (apart from Agnetha and Frida)?
Josef, I'm afraid I must take some of the blame for that: I picked from the top 100 choices at arbitrary and random intervals till I came to ABBA. All those solo male tracks were an inadvertent consequence of that. But from memory, there was, indeed, a poor representation of female singers.
However, I do think that most of the tracks I listed are 'pop classics'. And in particular, if I'm not mistaken, 'God Only Knows' has also been chosen most times by guests in the "Tracks of My Years" segment in the Ken Bruce Show. (BBC Radio 2 for those who don't know of it). But I, too, don't particularly like Bohemian Rhapsody; and nor do I care much for 'What A Wonderful World' or 'Life On Mars' or 'Hey Jude'.
Interspersed between the pop/popular tracks were a number of classical choices by listeners as part of their desert island eight.
The question is, how honest the choices actually are. In my opinion many people would name classical pieces just to appear intellectual, quality-conscious or whatever you call it. You know, if you mention Mozart, you can almost feel the appreciatory pat on your shoulder: "Oh, Mozart, of course - one of the best composers ever, wasn't he?" And try to imagine choosing Dancing Queen: "ABBA?! Of all the music of the past centuries you choose that Swedish pop joke? You must be kidding!" But in my case, as much as I like certain classical compositions, if I were to pick up which one I will never ever hear again in my life, I would very likely dismiss Toccata and Fuge in D minor or The Four Seasons and not Dancing Queen. And it's probably similar with the other non-classical popular choices. I've always loved Bohemian Rhapsody, but the fact it is in the 4th place is very much thanks to it being generally highly regarded and being the best-selling UK single...
After I gave it a second thought, I've come up with these eight songs that are sort of essential for me (in no particular order):
1) ABBA - Dancing Queen (really difficult to pick just one song, but finally I've chosen their ultimate pop. It really is perfect in every way)
2) Marie Fredriksson - Sparvöga (again almost impossible to choose one track of her catalogue but finally I've picked up this one because it is the first Marie-solo song that I've heard and it was this very track that made me explore her solo career, ultimately to discover my most favourite female singer)
3) Helen Sjöholm - Du Måste Finnas (from the first time I heard this song I fell for it even though I didn't understand a word back then. After getting acquainted with the lyrics I started to appreciate it even more. And I will never forget hearing it live in the Royal Albert Hall in 2010! Half of the audience was fighting back tears while the other half cried quite openly, when Helen finished her performance. Unbelievable!)
4) Roxette - It Must Have Been Love (it would be strange not to include at least one song by them, my second most-favourite band. Not sure why this one. It's beautifully sung, one of Marie's best vocal performances ever. Maybe I would go for the live version from Sydney)
5) Alphaville - Jerusalem (I really hesitated if this one deserves to be in the final eight. I'm not sure what's so special, it just gives me goosebumps every time I hear it since childhood)
6) Bryan Adams - Summer of 69' (I've seen Bryan in concert three times, this number is always the top of the show. Simple but effective)
7) Queen - Don't Stop Me Now (I could have chosen many other more sophisticated Queen songs. But somehow I feel if I was left on a desert island, I would appreciate the energy and optimism of this fast-paced number than any of their more profound ones)
8) Simon and Garfunkel - Bridge Over Troubled Water (such a strong number, I can't resist it)
And now you can call me superficial and narrow-minded
I wonder if my choices were different if I compiled them the day before (or the day after)...
By the way, wouldn't it be interesting to expand the choice from eight songs to eight albums? But even then I would be lost probably.
It's a question of taste, isn't it? Ultimately, there's no accounting for it. I am baffled by some choices, as no doubt my choices could incite bewilderment in others.
I have this thing about melancholy. Always have done. I'm drawn to it. I see beauty in it. Probably since when I first heard SOS and Fernando. I'm very much like Agnetha in that respect, I think. Moonlight Sonata would probably be in my list for that very reason. Hell, I could kill two birds with one stone and have Past, Present and Future (Agnetha's take on it) in there. Maybe Rachmaninoff's Piano concerto no.2. Quite possibly because I heard it in two of my favourite films- Brief Encounter and The Seven Year Itch. I like music that can evoke a multitude of memories and feelings.
Sorry, Richard- I'm babbling and not really answering the posed question!
Not at all, Josef. In many ways, I find our reflections about our feelings and tastes regarding music very engaging, regardless of thread idea!
Michal, I can understand how it's possible to be sceptical or cynical about people's musical choices, of course, for various reasons, whether they make classical or popular selections. Indeed, someone might apply that argument to ABBA fans and Dancing Queen or The Winner Takes It All: that so many pick either song because of some sort of feeling of 'peer pressure', not because they really prefer them compared with lots of other ABBA songs. I hasten to add I'm not that someone, by the way, even though I do actually prefer other ABBA songs. 😀
I guess many ABBA fans often don't admit liking them (or liking them so much that they would indeed take one or more of their songs to a desert island), because there's still that general consensus they are simply not good enough and cannot match the quality of other more "important" artists… I must admit I used to do the same in the past and if fact I don't go around exactly parading my love for them even today. However it would be a real pretence not to include at least one of their songs in my top eight...
Does it boil down to this, I wonder? If ABBA is THE favourite group for you, then choosing at least one ABBA track for your desert island eight is only to be expected - it seems natural and inevitable to do so. But if, like me, ABBA is a favourite, but not THE favourite, then perhaps, with so many, countless, choices, it's a bit less surprising that I didn't include ABBA in my eight. Hope so, anyway, because that's what I did! 😊
But if, like me, ABBA is a favourite, but not THE favourite, then perhaps, with so many, countless, choices, it's a bit less surprising that I didn't include ABBA in my eight. Hope so, anyway, because that's what I did! 😊
That's absolutely natural and perfectly understandable. I was just wondering (and it's not the case of ABBA only), how many people name Bach or Mozart because they think that's what they're supposed to choose (the quality is obvious). I guess that if someone is crazy about Modern Talking (personally I loathe them), he would hardly admit on camera that they would prefer You're My Heart, You're My Soul over Bach's 5th symphony, when in fact they can't imagine going to work without playing the song at full volume while dancing through the living-room
Gosh, am shocked. Not even one ABBA track? How strange.
In another forum a while back I took part in a fun thread themed around selecting your top hundred pop/rock tracks (some of us, myself included, included the stipulation that you could only select one track per artist). It's a forum where, while not especially flagging up my admiration for ABBA, I've not hidden it either, and where I'd have no qualms about being seen to select a favourite track of theirs. That said, when it came to picking my hundred, no ABBA track featured anywhere, and I think that would still be the case if I were picking today. I'm really fond of what I consider to be the best of their work, but it isn't life-blood to me, I realise again. I'd find it hard to make anything other than a start on homing in what I might pick for a 'desert island' eight, but with every musical style to choose from, the following three would be certainties (all instrumentals, broadly coming from the proto-electro or treated acoustic ambient field):
Ashra - Deep Distance (still a great title! Fitting, but without forcing an interpretation). Soaring, astral synth piece, anchored around a simple three-note modulating bass sequencer riff. If paradise exists as a place or a state of mind, this is the theme tune. Every single second of this is precious and perfect, from the opening minute, as two airy synth lines begin to climb and swoop and intertwine over and over above that hypnotic riff, right down to the oboe-ish sounding synth solo at the end (which has occasionally reduced me to rubble; you don't want it to fade, while knowing that the fact that it has to fade - into the distance, of course - is part of the power). The wind-effects in it date it a bit, but they never tip the balance, being judiciously used, and they still hold up pretty well):
Harold Budd/Brian Eno - The Silver Ball. Stately, reflective treated piano piece, bittersweet rather than melancholic. Solacing, revivifying, memory-triggering, all that arm-round-the-shoulder stuff. Could withstand a thousand playings (probably consecutively!) without losing its power:
Vangelis - Reve. Fender Rhodes (or soundalike) heaven! Effectively a different flavour of the Budd/Eno vibe, with a beautiful dappled, Mediterranean feel to it:
I could easily see me ending up with no tracks featuring vocals, if I were to continue with the task. As I've got older, instrumental music has come to mean far more to me (or maybe it's that I've become a bit fed up with the sound of the human voice).
If the "desert island" angle fantasy is to be taken seriously, and not just a roundabout way of listing 'the songs you like the best, and want to show off with', I think the choices should meet certain criteria: it would have to be albums, of varied genres, that have a certain quality that isn't a fading flavour, and that carry some kind of personal connection to your own life. For all those reasons, I might very well pick ABBA:s Gold if I come around to four other numbers some day.
One thing I've noticed recently is this - The Beatles aren't as revered as much as I thought they were these days, particularly by young people. This surprised me...
This is not the right thread, and I think it was discussed elsewhere on the forum recently, but I have to say it surprises me too. The first time I saw a YouTube comment comparing The Beatles to ABBA in the latter's favour, I thought it was some troll working on his regular day shift. But no: the replies were overwhelmingly in agreement, apparently not exclusively written by young people. Now I've seen it so many times that I've lost count. Being a fan of both, I have mixed feelings about it. It feels good to see that the reassessment of ABBA has certainly come a long way, but also shocking to see this lack of sense of history. Come on, The Beatles are in a category of their own, called 'The Beatles'! I'm all against mindless worshipping of mandatory legends, but it's just a fact of life...
Here's an entertaining link dedicated to the subject:
If the "desert island" angle fantasy is to be taken seriously, and not just a roundabout way of listing 'the songs you like the best, and want to show off with'
As Rich says, his format of eight tracks is taken, pre-formed, from a long-running British radio show. I've hardly been the most avid listener to the show down the years, but I don't remember forming the impression that people had ever picked songs in order "to show off with". People seem quickly to grasp the implications of the idea of being alone, and the solace-value a limited selection of 'salvaged' music would have, and seem to pick tracks that have either had a strong effect on them, or that they feel would help get them through this time spent in isolation. There's nothing really to 'take seriously' about the conditions, since everyone seems, either explicitly or tacitly, to acknowledge that the task is impossible, which is why it's fun to do: delicious frustration! (I'd probably ditch all eight tracks, if I could have with me a decent set of wind chimes.)