One of the most difficult questions that someone can ask a music lover is “What is your favorite song”? This is impossible to answer for any person who really loves music. You see music is as diverse as humankind itself, if not more so. A “favorite” song can change at any given moment depending on your current state of mind or mood. It’s akin to asking a parent, “Which child do you love more?” The question itself is flawed. Parents love each child equally although they may appreciate certain traits in one child more than the other and vice versa. Also, what does “favorite” mean? The definition is just to broad to get any real idea of why a person would pick a particular song as their “favorite”. Is it their current favorite of their favorite of all time? Is it their favorite because it makes them feel good, because it makes them want to dance or maybe just because it reminds them of a great time in their life. The reasons are as vast as the possible answers.
To help make the question become more meaningful, it can be tailored to a specific situation. In this case I placed the popular “desert island” query in the hands of the Internet’s most talented and dedicated music fanatics, including music critics and the brains behind some of the very best playlist sites and Rhapsody blogs:
“If you were stranded on a desert island and could only bring one song with you, what would it be?”
The idea was twofold, 1. To create an excellent playlist that could be enjoyed by anyone with the understanding that an actual human being selected each song as the ONE out of millions. 2. To have a glimpse into the thought process of people who really LOVE music.
I did not require anyone to tell me why he or she chose the song they did, but I did request that they explain themselves. I discovered as the responses began to flood my inbox that the reasons people picked a certain song was a fascinating exercise in psychology.
Some of the recurring themes were:
Length: many chose a long song (as I did) to get more mileage out of their selection. You are less likely to get sick of a complex 20-minute song than a 2-minute pop song, for example.
Mood: mood also was a consideration, if you are stranded on a desert island; music to fit the situation was warranted for many.
Complexity: as with length, the more complex a song is the more you can listen and discover new things before you become sick of it.
Personal Taste: of course personal taste also played a part in everyone’s selection; no one would choose a track they disliked.
Nostalgia: nostalgia played a small part for some, being reminded of home might be something you would want since you are after all, stranded on a desert island.
1. “De Camino A La Vereda” - Buena Vista Social Club Selected by Drake of Thus Spake Drake
“Oh my God, one song? Whatever song I picked I can't like much. I'll ruin it since it's going to be repeated over and over. Well, it'd have to be De Camino A La Vereda by Buena Vista Social Club, it's not my favorite song, but just one that I can listen to forever with the sound of the ocean in the background.”
”Suddenly I became very cerebral about the selection process. Do I choose a song that has an emotional connection for me, a reminder of past experiences to draw upon? Or a musical masterpiece that would never get old no matter how many times I heard it? Maybe a song with words that lends itself to endless interpretation? An exquisite vocal performance? A really long song, so I wouldn't have to hear it so many times...decisions, decisions. After much deliberation, I narrowed it down to 30 or 40 candidates taking all of the above into consideration, I have chosen: The Scientist by Coldplay”
4. “Listen To The Lion” - Van Morrison Selected by Mark of MusicRocker
”Well your question kept me busy all weekend. I've changed my mind several times, but right now I am going with Listen to the Lion from Van Morrison's Saint Dominick's Preview. It was 1973 and I was a freshman in College. I was going to Queens College but I lived on Brooklyn and did not have a car. When I couldn't get a lift I would hitch. Some guy picks me up. I am sitting in the back. "Mind if I put on some music". "Sure thing". He puts on "Listen to the Lion" ....loud. I had no idea who Van Morrison was. By the time Van works his way into the ROAR - I was completely mesmerized. As it faded away with Sailing to Caladonia I asked 'Who is this Guy'. After 31 years, it still sounds great.”
5. “Come Back Down” - Toad The Wet Sprocket Selected by Chris of worthy<-MUSIC
” ooo boy, that's a good question... one song... Well, I think I'd have to go with "Come Back Down" by Toad the Wet Sprocket, because it was the one that really pulled me into them and I was a serious Toad fanatic... they shaped a lot of my musical tastes”
”Well, I don't want anything with words, because that could get old quick. I don't want anything too short, because I might as well get my money's worth. Also, I want something that goes through a couple of moods so that it could work in several situations. I'll pick Bela Fleck’s Big Country.”
"This is a really difficult question. I would probably have to pick U2's With or Without You. That song holds a lot of memories of life, family and friends. If stranded and that was the only song I could listen to, it would help me keep my memories which would in turn sustain me."
”After much soul-searching, I’m going to go with The Stone Roses single Elephant Stone as my desert-island pick. It’s a danceable slice of British pop that (depending when you heard it) neatly straddles the late 80s & early 90s British music scene. The band’s first album had a deep and lasting influence on the sounds coming out of the UK, with just about every band who has mattered listing them as a key reference point. Eminently listenable and incredibly enjoyable.”
9. “She's The One” - The Ramones Selected by Glenn Peoples from Coolfer.com
For my pick, She's The One by Ramones. Ramones are my favorite band, and it's one of my favorite Ramones songs. On any given day it could be another song ("Swallow My Pride" is another favorite) but I think "She's The One" captures the band's essence: short, fast, punk that shows their love of '60s bubblegum pop, and it's a basically a Ramones love song without any of their usual cartoonish imagery to take away from the honest and sweet sentiment.”
”I started my selection process by deciding that I wanted a song over 15 minutes and one that had good dynamics and range of moods. I quickly reduced the list down to a few songs. Then I listened to them all about three times in a row to see which one had the best “vibe”. Pink Floyd’s Dogs from the album Animals won.”
12. “You Can't Always Get What You Want" - The Rolling Stones Selected by Keith Weiss, music connoisseur
“You Can’t Always Get What You Want by The Rolling Stones, (of course deserted on an island, "message in a bottle - sting" would probably be more appropriate)”
13. “Returns And Exchanges" - Cursive Selected by Ben of Mixmatcher.com
”Amazing song, plain and simple. This is my most favorite song from one of my most favorite bands.”
14. “Estranged" - Guns N' Roses Selected by Mike of FIQL.com
”I would choose Estranged by Guns N' Roses. When I thought of a song to pick I thought of it terms of something that I wouldn't get tired of after listening to it repeatedly. Estranged has an epic quality to it. It's title also seemed appropriate - an emotional isolation to match my physical state!”
”Man it is a tough choice. Weezer's Say It Ain't So. Not a classic, nothing special, but it is just one of the many songs that I never seem to get tired of.”
16. “You'll Have Time” - William Shatner (arranged by Ben Folds) Selected by Bryan of The Liquid Rivet
”Without a doubt; I would trade all the coconuts on the island for a computer that can play: William Shatner’s You'll Have Time. Live life like your gonna die. Because you're gonna. The king, the pope, they all had hope, but your gonna die.”
”It was a tough challenge coming up with a single track for the desert island playlist. Here are my thoughts. John Coltrane's Impressions from Live at the Village Vanguard - Master Takes would be my choice for the jazz genre. As a former tenor sax player, Coltrane is god, and I need to listen to him often. His music is challenging and would not bore me while on the island. Impressions starts off easy enough, but progresses to bouts of dissonance, and frantic passages that feel as is Coltrane is trying to reach another level. It is almost a religious experience. There is always something new to learn. It would not be repetitive.”
”Oh man, that is next to impossible for me...Too bad we can't include our own personal collections. At first I wanted to use the end credits for E.T. just because it makes my spine tingle every time I hear it...but that would have been stupid because it is only 3:50 long. So I flipped a coin between Beethoven 9 and Shubert Wanderer Fantasy and Shubert's Wanderer Fantasy won out”