Sunday, November 21, 2010

on an island in the sun and the clouds

i was first part of a "desert island" discussion one night in someone's basement during my freshman year of high school. it's the standard question of "what five cds would you take if you were on a deserted island for the rest of your life." i remember miah listing the counting crows's debut album as one of his. matt no doubt listed a pink floyd album or two. and as i was still rather green in the realm of music, i think i just tossed out some r.e.m. cds, not that anyone was really paying attention to me anyway.

i like lists and i like debating them. is the godfather part two really better than the first, or is it the other way around? everyone lists "sgt. pepper" as the greatest beatles album, but how do you compare it to "abbey road"?
on my gray post-it board on my room in high school, i would pin up my top ten list of cds for the benefit of all who came into my room. "whatever and ever amen" by ben folds five was number one, followed by the "lost highway" soundtrack (perfect for night driving in those days) and the soundtrack to "the nightmare before Christmas." i really don't remember what was on the rest of that list, although i think i put green day's very first album at number ten.

similarly, as my interests dovetailed into movies, i had a firm list of my top ten movies as well. in the summer after high school, my top three movies of all time were "pulp fiction", "the nightmare before Christmas", and "breakfast at tiffany's." in the ensuing years, when i would try to stand a little taller and decided that even the tv version of "pulp fiction" was a little too rough for me, i wondered when i would find another movie that would so completely knock me off my socks in brilliance, ingenuity, and sheer awesomeness. and while i don't list it on my top ten, i still recognize it for what it is. but i have new favorites.

so, what would be my five desert island movies today? "fanny and alexander", "bill and ted's excellent adventure", "2001", "seven samurai", and "singin' in the rain." who knows? those first three kind of make up my trinity of favorites, and i'm looking forward to making some time to watch "fanny and alexander" this week.

cds? "marvin's marvelous mechanical museum" (that's tally hall's cd, fyi), "the orb's adventures in the ultraworld" by the orb, and, um... hmmm. shoot. i love "london calling" by the clash and "pet sounds" by the beach boys (even listing that as my #1 fave for a while), as well as "abbey road" and some favorites by they might be giants, r.e.m., the eels ("electroshock blues" would be a contender...) but that list is much more fluid and dynamic.

however, what if you could only take one? only one cd to listen to, only one movie on the island? is there one that you can enjoy when you're happy and when you're sad? during loneliness hours and in times of ecstatic dancing?

fanny and alexander? ...maybe. my first viewing left me thinking of it as cinematic perfection and i don't back down from that, but is it too heavy to be the only movie i'd ever watch? 2001? it transcends the walls of filmmaking and makes my most selective list of "movies that are so good i want to scream" (and i did during the intermission of the last time i saw it), but again, pretty serious, and for as serious as i am, i think i want something lighter and more fun.
bill and ted? quite possibly. i love it so dearly not because it is Cinematic Art, but because it is what it is--a story about two dudes who save the world in a time-traveling phone booth--and it is completely unashamed of itself. no, i don't get the high culture of film that i enjoy with it, but i love it.
maybe the seven samurai, since it has action, drama, and humor all wrapped up in the greatest filmmaking ever. but it doesn't really feel like it's my movie.
bill and ted is mine.

music is much easier.
if i could to only one cd for the test of my life, i would choose without hesitation or regret: tally hall's marvin's marvelous mechanical museum.

it first seemed like a fun psuedo-novelty cd from some offbeat band, yet as i've listened to it over one hundred times (and probably two hundred, in all honesty), it has never gotten tired or trite. rather, i've found new depths, brilliance, insight, and lyricism in songs that first bored me (actually, i find myself skipping "banana man" sometimes, but goofiness is cool, too). the more i listen to it in more facets of my life, the more i love it. i loved it when i first heard it and i love it today.


The Former 786 said...

Thank heavens that with today's modern technology, we don't have to choose just one (or ten) CD(s). One iPod Nano can hold around 2,000 songs.

I love making lists, too. And you know I'm making mine in my head since reading this post. I don't have the results now, but for movies, Shaun of the Dead, Ferris Bueller's Day Off and The Hudsucker Proxy are hard for me to get sick of.

I'd like to make a mix CD or a film soundtrack, so I could have a variety of songs, but TMBG's Flood as well as Bush's Sixteen Stone are two that I can listen to, start to finish and not dislike a song.

Man, this post will be swimming in my head tonight.

kwistin said...

i love that you debate these sort of things.

what sounded offhand at first--if you had 'only one cd to listen to, only one movie on the island?' is then followed up with something that made me stop and think.

'is there one that you can enjoy when you're happy and when you're sad? during loneliness hours and in times of ecstatic dancing?' media really does affect us so greatly. and then i thought of other things that could be subbed out for 'music and movies' and it got a little interesting in my head. food for thought.

by the way, i had no doubt about your cd choice.

but you already know that.