Five Desert Island Albums from my iTunes

by Bryan

My iTunes has a long and storied history of being erased through breakage, human error and theft.* There aren’t many albums on there right now. There are few enough that I can count them: 79. More than I thought, but fewer than there would be if not for the crises listed above. We’d be in the 200-300 range, and I’m not even a big “music guy.” I’m an aspiring one, however, because I’ve realized how much I really like music in the month I’ve gone without cable. Sort of like having a normal sense of smell (mine is pretty shitty, which isn’t all that bad in the city, most or the time) might change how I feel toward nearly everything in my life, I just play the hand I’m dealt. Without garbage television cards to play, I’m leaning heavily on my iTunes account, especially after I got that message from Time Warner for illegally downloading torrents that said they were after me, basically. Jerks! Get a life.

* There was no theft

Any top five albums list of any time is an excuse to talk about things that you like in a context that doesn’t seem self-serving but really is, and this one is no different. In no particular order:

1) Beck, Sea Change

I lied. There is an order. I’m listening to this album now and it inspired me to write this post. I have a long-ish history with this album that’s about half as long as the album’s actual history. An ex-girlfriend is involved, but this album has survived the emotional fallout. Recently another player on my basketball team put this on during our maddening drive home (they close a bunch of shit on the Brooklyn Bridge toward Manhattan after 11 now, leading to gridlock’d chaos, more or less) and nothing seemed weird about it, because it’s self-evidently awesome.

2) Miles Davis, Sketches of Spain

The last computer explosion spared Sketches but ate Kind of Blue, so that decision was made for me.

3) Radiohead, In Rainbows

Ask me tomorrow and it could be OK Computer. Ask me the next day and it could be Kid A. Ask me the day after that and it could be Hail to the Thief.

But more likely if you asked me tomorrow I’d just say, “In Rainbows, but ask me tomorrow and it could be OK Computer. Ask me the next day and it could be Kid A. Ask me the day after that and it could be Hail to the Thief.”

4) Stereolab, Emperor Tomato Ketchup

I don’t think I was a small-town rube who only listened to pop music when I got to college in Chicago—I still think I’m a small-town rube who only listens to pop music, even if it’s not true. It was sure true back in 1996, though. This album was and remains the album that showed me there was Something More out there, and it has not stopped being awesome.

5) Nas, Illmatic

I tried to come up with some explanation as to why I was picking Kanye (My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy) above this that involved “All the Lights” and desert-island sunsets, but it was horseshit. This is probably the album I’ve listened to more times than any other in my life, which I’m just realizing now.

But Bryan there are no Beatles albums on your list

That’s true, but they’re all in my brain. I realized this week that I hadn’t listened to Sgt. Pepper in probably five years, and that’s a conservative estimate. There were two summers growing up where I listened to nothing but the Beatles. And when I say nothing, I mean nothing. My best friend, brother and I all worked at the same place and no matter who drove there, we played Beatles tapes. I went from not knowing a Beatles song from a piece of bark to knowing everything about them in two summers. I loved Sgt. Pepper then, but it wouldn’t be my favorite now. Abbey Road is probably my favorite, which is unfortunate only because it believes I think they were still getting better when it all fell apart, and yeah, the tension reached a breaking point, but still.

There had to be some tough cuts

Well as this list is entirely hypothetical, I wouldn’t call them “tough.” To that end, no one has really ever explained how we’re going to play these albums on this island. It was tough to cut Siamese Dream, but I have a habit of not listening to it after the first six songs anyway.

You are entitled to burn an EP of 5 songs from the other ones


Yes. Go.


1. Let Down, Radiohead

2. Rebellion (Lies), Arcade Fire

3. 3030, Deltron

4. Television Rules the Nation/Crescendolls, Daft Punk

5. My Favorite Things, John Coltrane

Is this more or less capricious than the albums list?

Far more.

How are you feeling about the albums list?


Spit it out

I might swap out Beck for the Avalanches’s Since I Left You.

That album is awesome

Yes it is.