If you want to sing out, sing out

70 songs seemed like plenty of room for all the great ones. Turns out, it’s not nearly enough.*

I started listing all the songs I loved — songs from deep childhood, through teenagerhood, young-adulthood, adulthood, love, marriage, motherhood.

I easily got to 100.

Then M and I started to talk about his list. Dang! More great songs I’d forgotten about. Then I took a tour through our iTunes library. Rats! Even more songs. Now I had 140. Prune prune prune.

I gave myself a rule: only one song per artist, no matter how much I love that artist (Gordon Lightfoot and Nick Lowe, I’m looking at you… Richard Thompson, you seem to be an exception because you had the foresight to sing so many duets). I thought, at least, that would let me have one song from every artist I love. No such luck (Hello, Bob Marley? Where you at?!).

What I ended up with, though, works. I took it for a test drive today in the form of a playlist on my iPod while I walked the dog. I put the playlist on shuffle and started walking. I only got through 12 songs, but at each one, I thought, “I LOVE that song!” That’ll do. I cannot WAIT to put this on in the car and sing my way through it. In the end, for most of these songs, that’s what matters: does it make me want to SING?

Without any further ado, for what it’s worth, here is my list of 70 songs in honor of Desert Island Disc’s 70th anniversary. Now, won’t you please tell me some of your Desert Island Discs?!

p.s. A book? The Norton Anthology of American Literature (Volumes 1 & 2). A luxury? My bed.

American Tune | Paul Simon
Anchorage | Michelle Shocked
Ashokan Farewell | Jay Ungar
Beg Steal or Borrow | Ray LaMontagne
Betting on Trains | Hem
Big Yellow Taxi | Joni Mitchell
Black Boys on Mopeds | Sinead O’Connor
Blackbird | The Beatles
Blow Away | George Harrison
Bows of London | Martin Carthy & Dave Swarbrick
BulletProof | La Roux
Careless | Paul Kelly & The Messengers
Chan Chan | Buena Vista Social Club
Cico Buff | Cocteau Twins
Concerto for Violin and orchestra in D (mov 1) (mov 2) (mov 3) | Perlman: Beethoven
Crazy | Gnarls Barkley
Cruel To Be Kind | Nick Lowe
Driving Home | Cheryl Wheeler
Farewell, Farewell | Fairport Convention
Flowers Never Bend With The Rainfall | Simon & Garfunkel
For Your Babies | Simply Red
Girl From the North Country | Bob Dylan
Good Morning Starshine | Oliver
Guilty By Association | Vic Chesnutt
Hello Stranger | Barbara Lewis
Hotel California | The Eagles
If I Was a Blackbird | Silly Wizard
Late Winter, Early Spring (When Everybody Goes to Mexico) | John Denver
Let the Mystery Be | Iris Dement
Madame George | Marianne Faithfull
Maracaibera | Quinteto Contrapunto
Nessun Dorma | Placido Domingo
Nights on Broadway | The Bee Gees
Persuasion | Richard Thompson and Teddy Thompson
Pour me rapprocher de Marie | Juan Diego Florez
Quitting Time | The Roches
Raindrops | Dee Clark
Rainy Night in Georgia | Brook Benton
Rock Your Baby | George McCrae
Sandy River Belle | Sharon Shannon
(Sittin’ on the) Dock of the Bay | Otis Reading
Smalltown Boy | Bronski Beat
Someday, Someway | Marshall Crenshaw
Song For a Winter’s Night | Gordon Lightfoot
Stand Tall | Burton Cummings
Stay With Me | Lorraine Ellison
Stornelli Amorisi | Claudio Villa
Sweet City Woman | The Stampeders
Sweet Jane | The Cowboy Junkies
Sweet Talkin’ Woman | E.L.O.
Sweetest Decline | Beth Orton
The Ladies Who Lunch | Elaine Stritch
The World Turned Upside Down | Dick Gaughan
Thunderstorms and Neon Signs | Wayne Hancock
Tiny Sparrow | Peter, Paul, and Mary
Trouble | Cat Stevens
TVC 15 | David Bowie
Urge For Going | Tom Rush
Walk on By | Dionne Warwick
Walking on a Wire | Linda Thompson & Richard Thompson
When First I Came to Caledonia | Norma Waterson & Martin Carthy
When Harpo Played His Harp | Jonathan Richman & the Modern Lovers
When I’m At Your House | Loudon Wainright III
When Two and Two Are Five | The Story
When Ye Go Away | The Waterboys
Who Knows Where the Time Goes? | Sandy Denny
Wonder | Colin Meloy
You Are the Everything | R.E.M.
You Don’t Know Me | Ray Charles
1952 Vincent Black Lightning | Richard Thompson

*If you don’t know what this post is all about, look here.

The songs in our hearts

In an effort to bump that self-portrait down the page a bit, I give you three bits of music-related news.

First, on Monday, the cast list for the spring musical at H’s school was sent out, and H was happy to find that she is cast in the role she was hoping to get: “Soupy Sue.”

What? You don’t remember Soupy Sue from Fiddler on the Roof? Or Oklahoma? Or Cats? Me neither.

The musical is Urinetown, a show about which we know little, but we’re learning. I guess when you’re the Oldest Secondary School in Vermont, you’ve put on all the obvious productions already…

In any case, it’s very exciting to get a named character role when you’re just a seventh grader, up against high school students, so we’re all happy. We’re also happy because the name “Soupy Sue” reminds us of the song “Soupy George”, so now we wake up singing “Soupy Sue with the soup on her head” every morning.

How long we’ll remain happy having that song running through our heads is anyone’s guess.

Second, M says my self-portrait reminds him of Leonard Cohen. I thought maybe it was because he had L.C. on his mind because of the new album just out today, but… you know, he might have a point. You be the judge.

Also, my mother’s family name is Cohen. So, there you go.

Finally, you know the terrific BBC radio program, Desert Island Discs, right? You know, the interview program where the guest chooses the eight discs (songs or pieces of music) that she or he would want with them if left stranded on a desert island?

Well, the program has just celebrated its 70th birthday and, in honor of that, we thought we’d challenge ourselves and anyone who wants to join us to compile a list of 70 songs or albums that they’d take to their desert island hideaway.

Are you game?

70 songs. Or 70 albums. Or a combination of both. It’s your choice.

Music you love. Or music that evokes a strong memory. Music that you just couldn’t live without.

If you’re willing, here’s the deal:

  • Submit a comment to this post or send me an email (see the About page) to let us know that you’re joining us.
  • Compile your list by February 14 (Valentine’s Day).
  • We’ll figure out a way to share lists (check back here for news on that).

For bonus points, also name a book and a luxury you’d want to take with you (Desert Island Discs “gives you” the complete works of Shakespeare and the Bible for free, so your book can be something other than those).

Break out the sunscreen and hand me one of those drinks with the little umbrella, would you please?