Baby-Boomers, Desert Islands, & Music


I get prompts from WordPress every day. Sometimes they’re quotes, sometimes questions. Sometimes I respond to them, usually not. Yesterday’s prompt struck me:

If stranded on a desert island, and could only bring one music album with you, which would it be? What is it about this music that never gets old for you?

I guess I just think too much. My first reaction to this question wasn’t which album I would bring, but how the hell am I going to listen to it?

I can just look at the cover?

Cool.

Or I’m on a desert island that just happens to have electricity?

Really?

And if I have electricity, why not just charge my MP3 player and listen to all of my music? That makes much more sense. I always have it with me. It’s small; it travels well. I keep it in my handbag right next to my cell phone – hey, cell phone! Why don’t I just call someone to fly or float on by and pick me up? Is there no Sprint coverage on this desert island? Well, ok, that’s believable – there’s no coverage at my house without the Airave.

And album – really? Who listens to albums anymore? It’s kind of a dated question. Albums were purchased by people of a certain age (my age). My mother bought records. My kids bought CDs—and now MP3s. Baby-Boomers, like me, bought records, 8-tracks, cassettes, CDs, and now MP3s. Somewhere along the line, it became easier to just call the music ‘albums’. Baby-Boomers still outpace all other generations in music purchases. Musicians covet the genre “Classic Rock” – because it means royalties that won’t evaporate. And it’s a title that doesn’t so much go with albums as it does artists. Eric Clapton will always be a classic rock musician – including new albums. So will The Eagles and Bruce Springsteen.

And we still call them albums. You just never know when a new format will be forced upon you…

I’m not sure I could narrow it to one album. I have more moods than that. What 10 music/albums do I never skip on my MP3 player (I have a Zune and not an iPod)? There’s a list (in no particular order & with links to some of the more obscure entries)…

Anthology. The Beatles (of course).

Boats, Beaches, Bars, & Ballads. Jimmy Buffett.

The Seeger Sessions. Bruce Springsteen.

II, Led Zeppelin.

Grievous Angel, Gram Parsons.

At the Parting Glass, Hair of the Dog.

Kristofferson. Kris Kristofferson.

Deluxe Anthology. Queen.

Great Days. John Prine.

Live at Corby Hall. Stephane Grappelli & Dis Disley.

I could easily name 50, 100, or even 1000 more. Shoot, I could name 35 more by just Buffett. At least that many Beatles albums – and then you would have to take the solo albums into account. Where would I be without John Lennon? And there’s no Aerosmith on my list, or Rolling Stones. No Monkees, Wings, or Animals. What about The Eagles? No Dropkicks or Flogging Molly. No Leonard Cohen or Cat Stevens. Waylon, Willie…

And I really cheated on this list; most of these choices are anthologies consisting of two to six CDs each. God only knows how many records that would be! God Only Knows – what about The Beach Boys?

I could not be on a desert island with only one album. My universe is enveloped in music. There are songs I associate with moments, people, moods. I would rather have silence than one album playing over and over. Thank you very much, WordPress, but no thanks.

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4 thoughts on “Baby-Boomers, Desert Islands, & Music

  1. Album should remain the conventional term for a collection of songs, because technology and media changes so rapidly. WordNet essentially defines album as a collection of recordings across various formats. So, it’s continued use in this sense is acceptable, no? I prefer it to specifying cassette, LP, eight-track or disc, unless that info is somehow relevant. It’s far more phonetically pleasing than any of those. It also connotes the artistic aspect rather than the technical aspect, of the work.

    • Jeff,
      I understand the connotation of the word—and I use it that way. Any singular collection of music. But, I know my mother has always called her music “records.” She occasionally might say “record album” the way she says “photo album,” but not often. And she doesn’t even have a record player anymore!

      My kids call their music albums “CDs.” I think as we plow forward into the digital age, it will come back to album – because you download a collected group of MP3s.

      People our age use the term “album” because it transcends the medium. And we have been through so many mediums… Yes, it is still acceptable, desirable even.

  2. If I’m on a DESERT Island, aren’t I more concerned about drinkable water? And something to eat, and getting the heck OFF the desert island? I agree with you Mel, the question needs work.

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