February 12, 2004

Rhythm in Exile

WE UNDERSTAND that a certain blogger, who goes by the name of "Matt," has offered up quite a popular question about music. Matt has asked bloggers to name the compact discs which they would take with them were they on a desert island or their house burned down.

This is quite a question! Not so much because it would be difficult to name the compact discs in question, but because -- well, we'd be exiled on a desert island and the house had been burnt down (to us, these things go hand-in-hand). As such, the last thing we would take to such an isle would be our favorite compact discs. Instead, we would take gold; lots of gold. Some silver too, so we could make change. For we can see this happening:

ISLANDER: Yes, what do you want?
US: Hi! Jack and I here -- he's my bodyguard, whilst I'm his long-lost pal -- have fled the United States after a Soviet-style revolution. We're looking for food and water. Also shelter. And one of those spit thingies so we can roast game.
ISLANDER: What are you, some kind of beatnik? Just go to the market down the road. They've got hamburger patties on sale this week. And you can get a hibachi.
US: Yes, but the trouble is ---
ISLANDER: Well? Out with it, man!
US: I only have my ten favorite CDs with me. It's all Jack has too.
ISLANDER: Oh, not again.
US: Well, what do you want? Dear God! We just barely got out with our lives! After all, when the rebels took the airports, they didn't exactly ask for a by-your-leave ...
ISLANDER: Look. A CD is nothing. We just got file-sharing!
US: What!
ISLANDER: Yes! We've downloaded ALL the songs we want! Besides, the record companies aren't exactly in a position to sue us -- they're too busy guarding their warehouses with hired mercenaries! Heh. Who knew civil authority in California would collapse so quickly?
US: Well ... shit. Sorry to have troubled you, then.
ISLANDER: Oh, no trouble a'tall.
US: Say, that reminds us. Have you -- Gad -- some kind of refugee office around here? You must.
US: Maybe?
ISLANDER: Heh heh heh.
US: Don't give us that shoe-on-the-other-foot crap. Not now.

As you can see, our CDs would be entirely worthless in such a situation -- especially if they were Top 40. On the other hand, everyone loves gold and silver! Especially if it's minted in a recognized coin standard! Why, in the physical space of ten compact discs, we could easily store $10,000 worth of gold and silver coins -- and that's at today's values. If -- God forbid -- we were in such a situation, they would prove useful. (1)

We realize that things may not be as dire as that -- although they would still be dire indeed if we ended up in exile on a desert island. We mean, New Caledonia is Plan C -- our escape hatch should Bermuda (Plan A) deem us not rich enough to enter (2) and The Isle of Man (Plan B) closes up to outsiders. (3) At least we could count on the first two places to stay stable -- but New Caledonia? Gad! On the other hand, we expect we could get a lot of its cheapo currency with our gold cache.

On the other hand, having some CDs from home would be nice while we were out on the beach sipping mai tais. So here they are:

10. Our special "War and Remembrance" Soundtrack CD. Because it'd probably be rather fitting in such a situation. It's too bad we'd have a devil of a time taking our DVD collection along with.

9. Peter Gabriel, "Shaking the Tree." Because no one should be without a Peter Gabriel Greatest Hits collection.

8. "Recurring Dream: The Very Best of Crowded House." If we're going to be exiled close to New Zealand, we'd better get used to music from New Zealanders. Actually, this is a hell of a disc; beautiful music.

7. "The Beach Boys -- Greatest Hits." This is for after we get a bit established on the island and start zipping around in a power boat. Hello, Sloop John B.

6. Chris Isaak, "Always Got Tonight." This is just a kick-ass CD, at least we think so. We like every song on it. It is an actual, honest-to-God album.

5. The Beatles, "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band." This will provide fun nostalgia when we're sixty-four.

4. Jimmy Buffett, "Songs You Know By Heart." Because our exile was nobody's fault. Hell, it could be our fault. OK, so it was our own damn fault.

3. Our Two-Disc James Bond Theme Songs CD Set. Because not even the collapse of civilization could strip the inherent coolness away from James Bond. Even if the Timothy Dalton movies came pretty close to doing just that.

2. Bach at Zwolle. A truly fabulous collection of Bach's organ works, on a truly stunning pipe organ. It has to be heard to be believed, that's how good it is.

and finally ...

1. Mozart, Requiem. OK, so a recording of a funeral Mass may seem a bit of a downer. But we think that it would be nice to have, just because it is an incredible recording -- and we can imagine we would need frequent reminders of our fragile spiritual state, out on that desert isle.

So there you have it -- Our Music Collection in Exile. We'll make sure to put these in the safety-deposit box, next to the stash of gold.


(1) DO NOT, on the basis of this essay, go out and purchase krugerrands or other precious-metal-based investments. Jesus. We're clearly joking here. And even if you really must possess specie, please -- go easy on it. We ourselves would in no circumstance hold more than one percent of our worth in the stuff, and it would require an extreme set of circumstances (and an extreme amount of worth!) for even that. But that's just us: you must make your own decisions. And read the prospectus before you invest anything, and realize past performance is not indicative of future results, and all that. Also talk anything over with a certified financial planner.

(2) While we still believe our Bermuda Escape Plan is sound, we know that in the event of general collapse, many other people will flee to Bermuda too. The island can't hold all of us. Since those others undoubtedly have more to offer Bermuda in the way of skills, money, and so on, we realize the Bermudans could send us back postage due.

(3) We also realize the Manxians -- we think that's right -- might not be all that pleased to see us either, even if we agreed to work as a lowly bookkeeper. See Note 2. As such, the research staff has informed us that we might need to consider places larger than Washington (the city, not the state) which could serve as refuge.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at February 12, 2004 11:00 PM | TrackBack

Ok - I don't agree with most of your pics, but you can certainly make a good argument for them. Except Chris Isaak. In the entire history of music, I am willing to be there is at least one album better than that one.

Posted by: Zach at February 13, 2004 09:43 AM

Hi Zach,

Well, I did only rank it sixth out of the list, although I must say in retrospect it probably deserved the No. 9 spot. But ah well. It's an enjoyable CD -- at least for me -- and as always, fabulous driving music. That's enough in my book!

Posted by: Benjamin Kepple at February 13, 2004 06:24 PM

I'm guessing by your recent addition of Robert Mitchum as Captain Pug Henry to your collage that "War and Remembrance" may be a recent discovery for you. I remember when it first came to TV, when I was in middle school, I think, and my dad taped it all, and I watched it on tape several times. It prompted me to go out and get the novels "Winds of War" and "War & Remembrance" by Herman Wouk -- good reads, if you haven't read them yet...

Posted by: Geoff Brown at February 15, 2004 07:43 PM


Yeah, they're great reads -- and I am thrilled that War & Remembrance is out on DVD. Now all we need is "The Winds of War!"

Posted by: Benjamin Kepple at February 15, 2004 09:26 PM