I proposed the following lists before: http://nopresuppositions.blogspot.com/2006/12/very-very-short-lifetime-listening.html.
1. If I only could listen to one song for the rest of my life, and nothing else, it would be “Sabotage’ by the Beastie Boys.
2. If I only could listen to one standard-length album for the rest of my life, and nothing else, it would be The Man Who Sold the World by David Bowie. It was my initial choice, and I stuck to it.
3. If I only could listen to one double album for the rest of my life, and nothing else, it would be The Beatles White Album. Ditto.
4. If I only could listen to ten songs for the rest of my life, and nothing else, they would be
Anthem of the U.S.S.R. by Paul Robeson (had name wrong before)
“Atom Heart Mother” by Pink Floyd
“Brandenburg Concerto No.4 in G major” by any competant Bach orchestra
“Der Tanz der Schatten”, live version, by Theatre of Tragedy
“Every Day Should Be a Holiday” by the Dandy Warhols
“Heroin” by the Velvet Underground
“New Dawn Fades” by Moby
“Stripped” by Depeche Mode
“Terrapin Station” by the Grateful Dead
“This is a Lie” by the Cure
It turns out that Moby’s version of New Dawn Fades is longer, and better, than the original, the best song ever from Joy Division. Other notable omissions: Tori Amos, Bauhaus, Black Sabbath, Johnny Cash, Leonard Cohen, the Dears, Metallica, Motörhead, New Order, Parliament, R.E.M., Rolling Stones, Pete Seeger, Sisters of Mercy, Patti Smith, Stooges, U2.
5. If I only could listen to ninety minutes of music for the rest of my life, and nothing else, it would be (with running total shown):
2:48 “I Saw the Light” by Hank Williams. If this song doesn’t make you reconvert to Christianity, nothing will.
5:48 “Sabotage” by the Beastie Boys
9:49 “Every Day Should Be a Holiday” by the Dandy Warhols
17:01 “Heroin” by the Velvet Underground. Greatest rock song ever.
32:41 “Brandenburg Concerto No.4 in G major”
36:41 Anthem of the U.S.S.R. by Paul Robson. If this song doesn’t make you want to be a socialist, at least a little bit, nothing will.
40:31 “Stripped” by Depeche Mode. Best alternative dance song ever.
45:00 “This is a Lie” by the Cure. An expression of existentialist ethics, far less pessimistic than it sounds.
49:47 “New Dawn Fades” by Joy Division
53:40 “Dead Souls” by Joy Division. Very pessimistic indeed.
58:14 “Major General Despair” by Crass
61:55“Tear the Roof off the Sucker” by Parliament. Pure fun in one song.
66:01 “Follow in the Cry” by After Forever. I simply cannot listen to this song enough times. I wish I were female, so that I could sing like this woman.
68:42 “Which Side are You On?” by Pete Seeger, Jane Sapp, and Si Kahn. Passionate. If it weren’t for unions, most of us would be living in shacks. Which side are you on?
72:28 “This Land is Your Land” by Pete Seeger, Sweet Honey in the Rock, and Doc Watson
75:19 “Ride the Magic Carpet” by Euphoria. If this song doesn’t make you want to be a hippy, at least a little bit, nothing will.
79:27 “Dancing Barefoot” by Patti Smith
85:04 “The Tower of Song” by Leonard Cohen. Not his best song, but synoptic.
88:28 “Code of Honor” by Code of Honor. One of the best ever California skate-punk songs.
A few things are shown, it seems to me, by this particular time-wasting exercise. First, the idea held by Sartre and many others that reason is of no value in the face of your passions is deeply mistaken. Your rational discernment is of very high value in making hard decisions. While what you want is not always stable, rationality properly construed serves your passions (I think a famous guy said that once). Another thing is that the commonly held notion that pop music only can be mere consumer product and/or bubblegum for teenagers is wholly false. If you have any dreams or thoughts at all, I promise you they’re out there on somebody’s music.