Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Process of compiling very, very short listening lists

In a previous post (http://nopresuppositions.blogspot.com/2006/12/very-very-short-lifetime-listening.html) I asked what you would choose if you had a very tiny amount of music for the rest of your life. I promised to comment on my process for my own choices, not all of which I’ve made. What I have to far:

1) One song: “Sabotage” by the Beastie Boys. I briefly considered “Every Day Should be a Holiday” by the Dandy Warhols, but I did not change my mind.

2) One single album. I decided to select these much like the candidates in a Canadian political convention (also the way American presidential candidates used to be chosen). Recalling that the one album you want need not be the best, if one compiles lists of one’s favorites, lesser favorites may win in the end by a process of elimination. Likewise, in the recent Liberal leadership convention, dark horse candidate St├ęphane Dion won in the end over favoured Ignatieff and Rae, because as lesser candidates were dropped over repeated votes, the majority supported Dion.

The Man Who Sold the World by Bowie. Upside: truly great musicianship, and reminds me of the science fiction I read as a kid. Downside: a somewhat pessimistic album.
The Velvet Underground and Nico. Downside: all about gutter life, no good news.
Mothership Connection by Parliament. Downside: uniformly happy.
Meddle and Animals by Floyd: the latter is really too pessimistic to go for every day.
Unknown Pleasures by Joy Division. ‘Pessimistic’ is putting it mildly.
First and Last and Always by Sisters of Mercy. Fringe candidate.
The Stooges. Fringe candidate.
Easter by Patti Smith.
Crown of Creation by the Jefferson Airplane.

3) One double album, selected as in 2.
The Man Who Sold the World by Bowie.
We Shall Overcome by Pete Seegar.
Joe’s Garage by Zappa.
The Beatles White Album. This one is particularly good for the present purpose, as it is highly varied in types of songs.

I’m really leaning to the Beatles here, and again, they are very far from being my favorite band.

4) 10 songs. I’m inclined to choose some very long songs summarily.
“Atom Heart Mother” by Pink Floyd.
“Hendrix Medley” by Soft Cell.

The following are ones I find particularly synoptic.
“The Anthem of the U.S.S.R.” by Paul Robson: pomposity and credulity.
“New Dawn Fades” by Joy Division: dignified misery.
“Stripped” by Depeche Mode: one of the best dance songs ever.

Plain favorites:
“I Saw the Light” by Hank Williams. Downside: short.
“Heroin” by the Velvet Underground. Downside: a downer.
“Brandenburg Concerto No.4 in G major” by Bach.

Two slots remain. Some other possibilities, most of them reasonably long:
“Every Day Should be a Holiday”
“We Want the Funk” by P Funk (aka Parliament)
“Dark Star” by the Grateful Dead.
“Venus”/“Der Tanz der Schatten”/“Hamlet for a Slothful Vassal” by Theatre of Tragedy.
“Nymphetamine” by Cradle of Filth (fringe candidate).
“Dead Souls” by Joy Division.
“Dead Stars” by Covenant.
“Some Kind of Stranger” by Sisters of Mercy
“Assimilate” by Skinny Puppy (more darkwave dance; fringe)
“Play for Today”/“This is a Lie” by the Cure.
“The House at Pooneil Corners” by the Jefferson Airplane.
“Holiday in Cambodia” by the Dead Kennedys.
“This Land is Your Land”/“Which Side are You on?”/“Solidarity Forever”.
“Major General Despair” by Crass.

5) For 90 minutes total, my basic criterion would be genres. Minimum:
10-15 minutes of punk
15 minutes of goth rock
10 minutes of political music
20 minutes of dance music/funk
15 minutes of hippy music
15 minutes of absolute favorites.

“I Saw the Light”, “Sabotage”, “Heroin”, “Every Day Should be a Holiday”, “New Dawn Fades”, “Dead Souls”, “We Want the Funk”, “Anthem of the U.S.S.R.”, “Stripped”, “This is a Lie”, “Brandenburg Concerto No.4 in G major” and “Major General Despair” are acclaimed.

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