What album would you choose?

The winds coming off the Pacific Ocean gently rustle the leaves of a nearby tree and mix with the sound of the waves hitting the shoreline to create a relaxing symphony of sounds. I could easily fall asleep thinking of the image, but a perplexing question has taken over my thoughts. I can’t stop thinking of what else I might choose.

Would I choose A Purple Rain perhaps. Maybe a hotel where “you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave?” Or what about Lonely Hearts Club Band? They could certainly stand up over time to any other band I might choose. Or should I choose a Thriller, or prefer to look at the Dark Side of the Moon, or listen to a bunch of Rumours?

The choices are endless. 

All alone on a deserted island

Okay, okay, here’s the challenge, I’m sending you packing to a deserted island. But I’m giving you one album to take with you to keep you company. What album are you taking? 

Stephen Colbert had actor Bradley Cooper on the The Late Show several months ago and asked him what one song he would choose to listen to if he could choose just one. His response: Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony. Of course, I decided to take Colbert’s question one step further. What album would I choose?

Prince and the Revolution’s Purple Rain; Eagles’ Hotel California, The Beatles The Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band; Michael Jackson’s Thriller; Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon; and Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours tend to show up on many of the top lists.

I asked my son. Now he’s pretty savvy when it comes to music and popular culture, but he went a completely different direction. I thought he might choose something from Led Zeppelin or rappers Travis Scott or Kid Cudi. Instead, he chose Mac Miller’s Faces. I may not agree with his choice, but it’s hard to disagree with his logic. His read of the situation: If you’re stuck on an deserted island, you’d get sick of the same album every day, but he considers the songs on the mixtape album to cover many different types. 

Image by Matthias Groeneveld via Pexels.

Lots of options

When you talk great singers and best selling albums, Madonna, The Queen B, as in Beyonce, Adele, Lady Gaga, and Taylor Swift all have their fans. You could throw Michael Jackson, Kayne, Jay-Z, Kendrick Lamar, and Eminem on that list too. There’s definitely lots of choices for the heavy medal fans in the crowd, including AC/DC, Metallica, or Guns N’ Roses.

You’ve got Marvin Gaye, Aretha Franklin, Smokey Robinson and Diana Ross and the Supremes for the Mo-town sound. There’s lots of other choices too, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Queen, The Grateful Dead, Elton John, Sting, and Billy Joel to name a few. Of course, Bruce Springsteen comes to mind, but some might point to Born in the USA, while others would probably point to Born to Run or Nebraska or some of his earlier work. 

On the country side, I haven’t even mentioned Garth Brooks’ No Fences or Shania Twain’s Come on Over. Pure country folks would point to Johnny Cash’s At Folsom Prison or Loretta Lynn’s Coal Miner’s Daughter, Ray Charles Modern Sounds in Country, or Dolly Parton’s Coat of Many Colors and many others.

I know a friend or two who will shoot me if I don’t mention Paul Simon with or without Garfunkel. My 90s’-grunge friends will shoot me death glares if I don’t mention Nirvana’s Nevermind or something from the Foo Fighters. Finally my wife will send me to the doghouse if I don’t mention her favorite: James Taylor’s Greatest Hits released in 1976, featuring “Carolina in my Mind” and “You’ve Got A Friend.”

I’m not even mentioning some of the great classical music scores of all time from Beethoven, Bach, Tchaikovsky, Mozart, Wagner. I haven’t even gotten into the great musicians of the world. I know I could listen to Yo-Yo Ma “all day, every day.”

Image by Jose Antonio Gallego Vázquez via Pexels.

A drum roll please

As I look over this list, I’m appalled at some of the musicians and albums I haven’t even mentioned, David Bowie, Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Lauryn Hill, Frank Sinatra, Billie Holliday, The Beach Boys, Bob Marley, and Jimi Hendrix. Saying all that, I would probably choose U2’s Joshua Tree or their Best of 1980-1990 album. How can you argue with songs like “With or Without You,” “Where The Streets Have No Name,” or “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For?”

Hey, I’m a mid-80s kid. It’s hard to take the 80s out of me.

I listen to any of those songs on that album and I’m automatically taken to another place in time. I’m sitting in the study lounge in my dorm watching MTV’s premiere of the video release of “With or Without You” with the rest of the guys from my floor. I listen to “Where The Streets Have No Name” and I’m sitting on my friend’s deck, listening to the album, trying to catch some sun and study for our upcoming Economics 101 exam, all the while drinking beers and chatting up the girls in the next apartment. If I close my eyes for a few minutes and listen to the album, I’m young and carefree again.

Now one minor trivial detail: If I’m going to have electricity on this deserted island to play my album, can we throw in some AC too? Maybe even a refrigerator and a few waters and beers? I imagine it’s going to get hot on this island.

What would be your album choice?


This is the second in a series on the ways music touches our lives. Let me know what you like to listen to and what you think of the series. I’ll be taking a break from the series on Wednesday, but will be returning with three more posts later this week.

47 thoughts on “What album would you choose?

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  1. This is a tougher question than I thought it would be. My first inclination was the album “December” by George Winston. But then, the one CD I MUST have in the player for a road trip is “Best of the Doobies” by the Doobie Brothers. One soothes me and the other pumps me up! Yikes!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. For instrumental, hard to go wrong with George Winston. And the Doobie Bros. always make me think of my oldest brother. He would always have them on when we were young. Love the idea of one soothing and on pumping you up. Maybe that’s how I should have phrased the question. Ha, ha.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Picking just one is very hard. But I’d go with Ray of Light by Madonna. I love that album and it made me into a lifelong fan of M’s in high school in 98. Still stands the test of time 25 years later.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have to admit Ab . . . I almost forgot about her completely and I remember her first coming on the scene in 1983. Wow. Now, I’ve never been a big fan, but she has to be on the list of possibles. If I had listed best albums for her, I probably would have put Like a Virgin, because that’s the one I always remember. All my high school friends trying to dress up like her. Ha, ha!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Ok…I love music. This is ridiculously hard. But I remember having a moody blues live at red rock album. I think that…really for the isn’t life strange…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve been thinking on this for awhile now Brian and I can’t do it. I cannot choose only one so I want the opportunity to wave my magic wand, open my Spotify favorites and have it all!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha, ha, it’s not an easy question. For you Deb, magic wands will be allowed. I think it becomes harder when I remember that I have favorite albums, but I may not want to hear those same songs day after day. I love the music, but want some others thrown in to add some spice. Here’s to magic wands to make things right! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m just gonna go with the first one that popped into my head. Elton John has been my main man since the early 1970’s, and the “Goodbye, Yellow Brick Road” album is just as fresh to me today as it was on first listen. This is a great question to contemplate, and there’s LOTS of answers you couldn’t go wrong with.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. So, so unfair. I cannot choose…and the more I look at everyone else’s answers, the more I want to be defiant and just declare I can’t pick one! Your post summarized all of my ‘big contenders’ — U2, Rumours, the Eagles…the soundtrack of my youth! And oh– Chuck Mangione, “Feels So Good”. OMG. 🤣😎🤣


    1. Ha, ha, you rebel Vicki. Okay, you can have a magic wand too. Everyone gets a magic wand. 🙂 It’s a hard question. I think too it has less to about just listening and more about what you think of when you hear the music. For me, when I hear U2, I think of a younger me. When I hear the Eagles, I think of stealing my brother’s Eagle;s Live cassette and going on a drive and passing farms and the valley where we lived. And oh, I forgot about Chuck Mangione. He really was everywhere in the 70s. I was trying to think of others like him. The only real musician I could think of was Yo-Yo Ma, forgot completely about Kenny G and some of the great Jazz players. Still listen to a lot of Fleetwood Mac too, now that my daughter has it on her playlists.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You are so right about U2 —“Where the Streets Have No Name”…”With or Without You”…impossible to not sing and groove along. Impossible. And I love that your daughter is digging Fleetwood Mac. Yes, yes, yes — you raised her well! 😉😉😉

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I always go back to U2. Always. The funny thing is that Bono gives me “hearing” fits. I have some hearing loss in my one ear. I’m generally fine, no hearing aids yet, but his tone/pitch is right in that no-man’s land. I learned early that it was best to wait to sing along with U2 until I had a chance to look at the liner notes and lyrics. Otherwise, I would be “that guy” in the back making up my own words to every u2 song. Ha, ha. There might be a story or two in there. Ha, ha. But, yes, I love them.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Oh my goodness…you just tipped your hand…I DO see a blog post in your future…for our reading pleasure…about you being ‘that guy’. Can’t wait…and to ease your mind, there are plenty who are ‘that girl’. Yup. Mumble and make it up when we don’t know!

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Great question, Brian. There are so many albums that have been the soundtrack to different parts of my life, the choice is almost impossible. If I had to stick my neck out I would go for Setting Sons by The Jam. The album is the story of three mates and how their lives head in different directions. From a lyrical point of view it is poetry set to music. (And on the neighbouring desert island I would house the hundreds of other albums that I have loved.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Okay, this is the beauty of music. Somehow I missed this group. I’m playing them right now. I’m hooked. Love the album. I’ll be listening to these guys the rest of the day. I hear the punkish, up tempo side, but there’s so much more to their songs too. Very cool.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I can’t argue there John. I never really stole clothes or things from my brothers. The one thing I used to steal though was my brother’s Eagles Live cassette. I swear I wore that thing out. Loved that album. Remember Columbia House where you could get a bunch of cassettes for a penny or something like that and then needed to buy an additional few cassettes. My own copy of the cassette was my first purchase!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I don’t recall the Columbia House thing but I did have a nice collection of cassettes in the car! Wwe jammed Van Halen, Rush, and many more of the big names back then. 👍🏻🔥

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Very tough choice. Your second paragraph lists many of my favorites. Also, Simon and Garfunkel, Mammas and Papas and Don McLean. So many gifted and talented artists. FYI, Purple Rain was produced by one of my closest friend’s brother.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, wow, you’ve added some good ones. Don McLean especially a great album. And ok, please tell me your friend and you have some great Purple Rain/Prince stories. Did he produce any of Prince’s other albums? Purple Rain was amazing. I wouldn’t call myself a big Prince fan, but that album seemed to draw from so many different types of fans. I remember listening to it and being floored. So different from anything else I had bought before.


      1. I just looked my friend’s brother up. “Under the Cherry Moon” and “Sign o the times” were his other Prince albums. They broke apart when Prince became a symbol! My mom had every Don McLean album, not just the American Pie one. The last time I was with her I played his songs on my phone and we sang together.

        Liked by 2 people

    1. Abba’s a great choice. Perfect for listening on a beautiful sunny day. I was going to add them, but was running out of room. Plus, I wanted to give my wife and daughter a hard time. They love ABBA. I knew I’d get my wife’s attention if I didn’t include them and the B-52s.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I love your list of possibilities as well as you U2 choice. And your line that you can take the mid-80’s out of us that grew up then!

    But I make take Yo-yo Ma playing the Bach Cello Suites. Assuming that I might need soothing and calm while deserted…

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Well, thought ’bout this for a day or three…moved between Van Dyke Park’s “Song Cycle,” Miles and “Kinda Blue,” and then drop the needle on that vocal stylist Van Morrison and “Moondance.” Nice series. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

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