I could rant about “Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters” and “Movie 43” further cementing January as an interminable cinematic wasteland, but I’ve beaten that dead horse so hard that the glue factory won’t take him anymore.
I could talk about the hiring of director J.J. Abrams to head the next “Star Wars,” but that’d be a one-word column: meh. I like Abrams, and I think he’s a fine pick, but I’ve already seen Abrams’ “Star Wars.” It was called “Star Trek.” I just don’t want these two unique, iconic franchises melded into indistinguishable cousins.
So I’m going to continue this movie hiatus and talk about something else: school. Don’t worry, fun school.
I’m currently in the midst of a History of Rock and Roll class. Normally when I tell friends and family that, I get some sort of snippy remark, like “Oh, wow; that’s a class?” or “You must be a senior.”
It sounds like an easy breeze, but as taught by Dr. Phillip Naylor, it’s no toss-off class. It isn’t just about sitting back and listening to some sweet jams; the class is about how music transformed American culture, and vice versa. It’s just a regular history class, albeit with an awesome soundtrack.
I’ve been really digging the class, especially the past week as we’ve watched “The Last Waltz,” Martin Scorsese’s famous rock doc that plays as a treat for music fans and cinephiles alike. However, on the first day of class, we were asked to name our favorite desert island album and explain our choice.
I was baffled. I eventually jotted down “40 Licks” by The Rolling Stones, but that doesn’t really count. That would be like naming the James Bond anthology as your desert island DVD. It’s cheating, and looking back, I should’ve picked a real album.
But which one would I choose? Picking a favorite album isn’t like picking a favorite movie. A movie is a singular piece of work with a universal theme, but an album changes almost every four minutes.
Plus, there are albums that I love, but almost every album has at least one song that is an absolute stinker (or, in some cases, an album has only one good song among stinkers). I learned this lesson the hard way back when I was a kid and bought myself Shaggy’s album, “Hot Shot.” I liked the song “It Wasn’t Me” (this column is getting progressively more embarrassing) and assumed the rest of the album would be up to snuff.
I was wrong. Horribly, horribly wrong.
Ever since then, I’ve been a singles man. I’ll buy up individual songs off an album but never just an album in one big chunk. As a result, the idea of only having to choose a single album – flawed tracks and all – befuddles me.
If we’re scanning through my iTunes collection, some Black Keys albums – “Attack and Release,” “Brothers” and “El Camino” – would certainly make the short list. I love Local Natives and their mesmerizing, dreamlike rock, which would nicely soothe me if I was actually trapped on a deserted island. Grizzly Bear, Passion Pit, Kanye West and Radiohead might also find their way into consideration as well.
But then you have to consider what your favorite desert island album says about you as a person. Do I not respect the origins of rock enough if all of my previously listed selections are from the ’90s and later? Am I just another close-minded kid who won’t pay attention to anything released before Pokemon?
If that’s the case, I’d probably get The Rolling Stones back into the conversation, or maybe Jimi Hendrix. At the same time, though, I’ve heard most of their stuff through “best of” albums and compilations. And where does that get me? Right back to where we freaking started.
In my head, I banter these various albums back and forth, weighing pros and cons. I tie my brain into knots overthinking the scenario.
“You couldn’t pick Radiohead,” my left brain shouts. “You’d get all depressed and moody, two very bad adjectives to be when trapped by one’s lonesome in the middle of the ocean.”
“Yeah,” my right brain retorts, “well Passion Pit’s lead singer’s voice would certainly get on your nerves if it was the only sound other than waves and palm fronds you could listen to.”
Eventually, I get a headache from all the arguing going on in my skull until the perfect solution hits me like the coconut that hit alternate-universe Issac Newton on the head.
Somebody just make me a desert island mixtape. It’d be a mixtape that contains all my favorite songs from all my favorite artists – and maybe some songs from artists that I don’t like (I’m not a huge Ellie Goulding fan, but throw on the Bassnectar remix of “Lights,” and I’d have the perfect song to have a mini-rave with my very own Wilson).
I’d take this carefully selected playlist with me on every flight I’d ever go on, just in case the plot of “Lost” breaks out. Some may say choosing a mixtape as my favorite album is cheating. I call it preparedness.