Last week, I posted my Top 10 desert island records (at least the ones I was feeling that day) for no good reason other than to think about great records and put it out there. Thing is, though…well, three things: a) my list was boring, I thought in retrospect; b) confronted with picking ten from 10,000, I felt my brain dull–and I really didn’t think about the albums, I just felt about them; and c) after realizing no Howlin’ Wolf or Thelonious Monk was on the list, I felt like the failure. Felt, felt, felt.
So I was wallowing around in the comment thread on Facebook that issued forth from my sharing of the post, when a decent, worthy, achievable task came to mind: what if I limited my leave-the-country-fast-as-you-can crate to just records that have been released in 2018? Harder in some ways, but easier to think about. For example, I actually thought about 10 categories for records I’d need if I were isolated on such an islet, and they came surprisingly quickly:
Appreciation (of the Present)
Lightness (Hope, Laughter, Love)
Darkness (Despair, Rage, Hate)
And, see, the thing is, my Top 10 2018-vintage desert island discs, as a result of the above, don’t exactly match my current Top 10 favorite 2018-vintage discs, because utilitarianism has intruded, which, for my purposes, is just fine. Here goes–the records came almost as quickly, and satisfactorily, as the categories! (Note: I’ve linked the artists and/or records with some supplemental material if you know them not.)
One. To keep myself physically fit, encourage me to dance (easier when I’m by myself, anyway), and inspire me to invent my own kind of tai chi:
JLin‘s Autobiography (Music from Wayne McGregor’s Autobiography)
Two. To keep my mind sharp, engaged, challenged, and fed (this would have to be something durably challenging and nutritious, ya dig?):
Mary Gauthier and Songwriting with Soldiers: Rifles and Rosary Beads
Three. To practice mindfulness and master the emptying of my mind and desires:
Sly & Robbie and Nils Petter Molvaer: Nordub
Four. To elicit and help sustain deep and restful slumber, and regenerate my physical and mental cores:
The Necks: Body
Five. Um, OK, I will technically be alone…but my imagination and memories, and the sun, moon, stars, and breeze will be my companions:
Six. To conjure the best memories of my friends, family, wife, pets, and exploits (a tough one, because recent records connect quicker to recent interactions–the past, but certainly not the deep past) (but–aha!–I found a way to cheat, as usual):
Bettye LaVette: Things Have Changed
Seven. To encourage me to appreciate my circumstances, either by contrast with the agonies of society or by putting the glories of isolation into relief:
Subtle Degrees: A Dance That Empties
Eight. To encourage me to sing freeing, determined, defiant, melancholy songs–luckily, no one will be there to hear. Dedicated to my friend Hardin–I know you were waiting for it.
Nine. To help me hold (and also release) the light.
John Prine: The Tree of Forgiveness
Ten. To help me embrace (and also fight) the dark.
Zeal & Ardor: Stranger Fruit
Let’s hope none of us ever have a reason to split for the sands.
Coming soon: my similar answer to my recent 10 Desert Island Books post.