In an era where you are pretty much guaranteed access to millions of recordings in multitudes of different outlets for the rest of your adult life, if you’re ever stranded on a desert island the music will be the least of your problems. Still, there are five albums that, if you’re me, you must have in your collection in some shape, form or playlist. Because, if you’re me, you can’t do without¹.
Neil Young and Crazy Horse Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere
Fever-induced and with two of the best songs ever–Everybody Knows and Down By The River–plus the mellow Round and Round as well as the double-drop D tuned Cinnamon Girl that everyone with a pulse immediately recognizes. I also love that in Rolling Stone’s initial analysis in 1969, the reviewer wrote, “In several respects it falls short of his previous effort. Young’s new material is a little disappointing…” Stupid idiot.
The Minutemen Double Nickels on the Dime
This might be the most creative output by an American band I’ve ever heard.
Widespread Panic Space Wrangler
I won’t even pretend they’re the best band but they’re the first one I truly considered to be “my band.” During college my friend Rob brought home this cassette tape during Christmas break and we never stopped listening. We saw them in some 100-person club in South Beach when South Beach was still a dump and everything about them–the musicians, the fans, the atmosphere–fit like a glove. Because, especially compared to northeastern boarding school hippies, southern hippies are the coolest cats in the world.
Uncle Tupelo No Depression
Raw, awesome and the perfect antidote to some of the other over-hyped awfulness of the era. Too bad those guys hate each other.
Yellowman King Yellowman
Everybody always played Legends and then somebody put this on and it changed how we all thought about reggae. Growing up in South Florida we were soon obligated to go to Sunsplash every year. It also predated Run DMC’s Raising Hell in our consciousness by two years with the idea of spoken word as art form. Plus there’s the live show aspect.
UPDATE: Emmylou Harris At The Ryman
Because everyone in my family knows it by heart.
(1. Nothing here is from the 21st century? Duly noted. When you come of age is when you come of age.)