Over the past few days, my wife has been selling off our CD collection.
Have you ever pondered a variation of this question: If you had to be stuck on a deserted island, what five CDs would you bring with you? To some extent, we went through that exercise. While we let go about two or three hundred CDs, we allowed ourselves to keep a few of our favorites. Here are some of the ones I kept.
Eric Clapton: Unplugged. I had already been a fan of Clapton for years prior to this CD, but this one was one of his great commercial successes. It's full of super music. This album reinvigorated my adoration for this great guitarist. An acoustic set of songs, Clapton introduces "Tears in Heaven" and his super remake of "Layla". He won an armful of Grammies for this album, and it's totally deserving. Clapton has been rocking for several decades, and I had CDs and tapes from his early stuff, and I have some of his newer stuff, but this one was the keeper Clapton disc.
Master of Puppets. When I watched Metallica: Some Kind of Monster in 2004, I began a journey into heavy metal that I'm still on. I knew I would need to keep Metallica's Master of Puppets, one of their signature albums. If your ears are virgin to heavy metal, then allow me to suggest this one disc to deflower them. This is an aggressive and "heavy" album. The guitar solos from Kirk Hammett are killer. James Hetfield spits out the vocals, like he's priming for a fight. The driving bass and drums are fast. This album is still thrilling to listen to (every song rocks), and it has to stay in my CD case.
Dire Straits. I can easily recall the single light, and how it played in the darkened dorm room, when I first heard "Brothers in Arms", Dire Straits very popular album (released 1985). The song was "Your Latest Trick". I was a college freshman. And the cool sexy saxophone that starts that song was my introduction to this band. Of course, "Brothers" was a best seller. It had the very popular songs "Walk of Life", and "Money for Nothing". But I bought that album for "Your Latest Trick." Somehow, I don't remember when, or how, I came to listen to Dire Straits' first self-titled album (released 1978). This album was full of the atmosphere from that one song, that one night back in college. Mysterious. Funky. Cool electric guitar. Everyone will remember "Sultans of Swing" from this album, but check out "Six Blade Knife". Awesome stuff. I love this disc. Couldn't let it go.
The Blueprint. After I watched 8 Mile, featuring the rapper Eminem, I went back on a rap groove for many months. I listened to a bunch of artists: old Notorious B.I.G., classic Puff Daddy, new Missy Elliott, old and new Snoop Dogg. And the one disc that remains entrenched in my mind from those months of listening is Jay-Z's "The Blueprint". The CD is in the style of combat rap. Jay-Z is constantly rapping that he's the real deal, and all the other rappers out there are just players. With this album's musicality, you get the sense that he's at the top of this game. Your head will be bobbing and nodding with this CD. Every song is different: fast, medium, and slow beats; light, heavy, and dense rap lyrics. "I sell ice in the winter; I sell fire in hell; I am a hustler baby, I sell water to a well." Yeah, it's a keeper.
Red Hot & Blue. I had originally put this Cole Porter tribute CD in the "to go" bin. On the morning that Jenn was putting the CDs on the Internet, she IM'd me, saying that this one had to be keeper: It had our wedding song on it (Sinéad O'Connor's version of "You Do Something to Me")! The night I went through the boxes of CDs for my keepers, I saw this one and winced. This is a great album (Tom Waits' "It's All Right With Me" and Annie Lennox's "Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye" are superb), but I was keeping a bunch of CDs already. I figured that maybe for some anniversary, I could buy it again for her. So I put it in the "to go" bin. And Jenn saved it, thankfully. This is one of the few albums that Jenn and I agreed together to keep.
These aren't the only CDs I kept of course. I have another Metallica CD ("St. Anger"). I have "The Eminem Show". And yes, I have "Brothers in Arms." But I also kept my cousin's college acapella band CD (Juxtaposition's "Assume the Position"). I kept my youngest brother's "Reasons for War" (from his band The Paragraphs). I kept an Elvis CD ("Suspicious Minds"). And I still had a stash of CDs that were "hidden" from this process because they were in the CD case for my car. I'll have to blog about those twenty or so CDs someday. Those are all great CDs for a deserted island too.