One of my favourite genres of games are those centralized within deprivation. Something about limitation forces thoughtful meditation. One of these games is called “Stranded.” The ultimate scenario is: you are stranded on a desert island and can only listen to twenty songs for the rest of your life, what would you choose?
To be honest, the scenario is usually limited to five or ten songs, but I don’t think that is completely realistic. There is no possible way to filter hundreds of songs down to such a diminutive group of five. Fine, call it cheating, but you know how excruciating it is…so back off.
My list does not stem from any kind of hierarchical arrangement but rather appears according to the order in which they spontaneously poured out of my head. Here goes…
1. The End – The Doors: This song seems like an economic choice. It is over ten minutes long and encompasses a vast array of musical voltas. The ritualistic and pseudo-Native rhythms encourage cathartic dance and spiritual liberation. The altering tempos allow a dynamic transitional purging and celebration. The yearning for natural elements seems suiting under the circumstances. A wholehearted embracement of natural elements ensures a transcendental experience based within appreciation rather than despondency.
2. Crazy on You – Heart: This rock anthem could make anyone forget the hardships associated with being hopelessly stranded and utterly alone. Nancy Wilson’s intricate solo work and Ann Wilson’s riveting voice would never wear thin. Also, the song vividly encapsulates the natural world with a sensual and romantic realm of distant disembodied intimacy.
3. Going to California – Led Zeppelin: The song is based within a reminiscent search for zestful love and past pleasures. The reminiscent quality of the song may motivate me to find a way off the island to reconnect with the days of plentiful pleasures and summers of love. Memories of shared wine and songs would surely inspire the constructing of a sketchy makeshift raft or a brilliantly displayed SOS message made entirely of overturned turtles and coconuts.
4. Rhymin’ and Stealin’ – The Beastie Boys: There isn’t a super specific reason for this choice. It is a really fun song, plus, it combines the fun-loving essence of The Beastie Boys with the epic drumming of Bonzo. I also figure, if I am going to be stranded for an undetermined period of time, I could work on my rapping skills and fluidity.
5. Samba Pa Ti – Santana: What can I say about this song? The unadulterated emotions expressed are completely palpable. The sheer passion and exuberance are undeniably touching and deeply affective. It sends shivers to the core of my soul.
6. White Rabbit – Jefferson Airplane: This would be a great song to listen to while exploring the plant life on an island. Once you find the trippy stuff, crank Jefferson Airplane and all of your troubles will disappear.
7. Lenny – Stevie Ray Vaughan: This song falls under the same category as “Samba Pa Ti.” The passionate guitar serenade tickles varying emotions as the drums silently resonate in the background. The combination of Vaughan’s distinctive Blues hammers and seductive tremolo techniques harmoniously merges the rough with the romantic.
8. I Cover the Waterfront – Johnny Lee Hooker: This is a salient song of hope. The confidence and loyalty maintained throughout the threat of hardship illustrates steadfast devotion and faith in optimistic endings.
9. Subterranean Homesick Blues – Bob Dylan: The fast-paced lyricism is sure to keep me occupied as I attempt to perfect a spot on Dylan impression.
10. Nocturne Op. 9 No. 1 – Frédéric Chopin: Classical piano is such a meditative form. This nocturne dynamically melds both the hopeful and melancholic. Perhaps more than any of the songs on this list, this one would keep me sane and would be on high rotation.
11. If 6 was 9 – Jimi Hendrix: I think being alone on a deserted island with this song would accurately illustrate the importance of the individual. The lack of cultural influence and pressure allows the individual to live for their own desires rather than conforming to plastic ideals. The isolation would motivate a full discovery of the self.
12. Three Little Birds – Bob Marley: What would a beautiful island be without steel drums and Mr. Marley? The Reggae vibe makes everything better. When Bob tells me, “Don’t worry about a thing/Every little thing gonna be alright” I believe him. Let those birds sing on.
13. Spoonful – Howlin’ Wolf: I will keep it simple: this song satisfies my soul.
14. Comfortably Numb – Pink Floyd: Who wouldn’t want to be in this state? Comfortable and numb…sign me up. The song has a transcendental sound that would definitely get you to that stage…transcending pain and embracing seclusion.
15. Sonata in C Allegro – Mozart: This seems like the perfect exploration music. It is very curious and Charlie Chaplin-esque. There is a plethora of narrative voltas and shenanigans: the blissful excursion, the moment of confusion, the altercation, and the triumph. It suits a first time romp around an unfamiliar island. Perhaps there would be a run-in with some mischievous monkeys.
16. Corpus Christi Carol – Jeff Beck: This song has a soothing tropical feel. After pillaging the island for much needed supplies and provisions, the wavering guitar riffs would lull you to sleep under the gentle afternoon shade and kiss your eyelids with the cool ocean breeze.
17. Time to Pretend – MGMT: After a long time of isolation, I would suspect that island insanity would slowly creep into my psyche. While listening to this song I can imagine myself reverting to an odd mix between a child and a meth addict. At this point, I would construct a crazy fort and pretend to be a powerful emperor residing over the crabs and other aquatic life. This song would be the backdrop for offbeat dancing and indistinguishable vulgarities and rants.
18. Today – The Smashing Pumpkins: The mantra: “Today is the greatest day I’ve ever known” shows an appreciation for life regardless of the circumstances at hand. No one knows what tomorrow brings so it’s best to take pleasure in the opulence of the present.
19. Watching the Wheels – John Lennon: What can I say? I am a sucker for falsettos. Everyone busts out their falsetto in the chorus. It is playful, bouncy, and uplifting. This song centers on self-contentment despite other perceptions of happiness.
20. Piece of My Heart – Janis Joplin: Joplin’s soulful yet playful voice tells a story of a trepidatious love and yet you can’t help but sing along and sway your hips to the sensual guitar licks.