Monday, May 31, 2010


"You Are Not Forgotten"
The Definitive Account Of American POWs
Abandoned In Southeast Asia
By Bill Hendon and Elizabeth Stewart
In honor of all those whom Uncle Sam
deliberately left behind.
~ "Lonesome Dogg" McD-Fens
YE OLDE COMMENT POLICY: All comments, pro and con, are welcome. However, ad hominem attacks and disrespectful epithets will not be tolerated (read: "posted"). After all, this isn’t, so I don’t have to put up with that kind of bovine excrement.

Friday, May 21, 2010



(Part 1 Of 2)

This is still ‘A McBirdDogg Production’

Last Monday, I posted here at ‘STUFFS’ a list of my fifteen “must-have” Desert Island music albums. This was a Blogland festival which many bloggers participated in, including some friends of mine who are members of the blogging community, namely, Arlee Bird, Mousie Marc, and DiscConnected.

But I had also asked my non-blogging friends to submit a list to me of their ‘Fifteen Fantasy Island Favorites’ and four of them did so (one even included album cover photos). Below are the 15 choices that these four BFOS (‘Blogless Friends Of Stephen’) would pack for their one-way cruise to Fantasy Island.

Well, actually, the last of the four BFOS totally rebelled against this project, but more on that later.

Following are the lists in the order in which they were received by me. Some of their commentary was directed toward me, so if you encounter, for instance, the word “you”, know that they ain’t yakkin’ at YOU, dear reader; the “you” they is yakkin’ at is ME:


[Pooh is a dear old friend whom I met through a mutual friend of ours back in 1978. I can still remember pretty vividly the night we met; we hit it off immediately and stayed up yakkin’ music until the early, early hours. At that time, we shared a strong fondness for the music of the Hard Rock band Thin Lizzy, and I’m sure this represented the first element that tied us together… uhm… strictly in a “John Wayne” kinda way, ya un’erstand! It was Pooh who years later turned me on to Tom Waits by way of his ‘Small Change’ album. For nearly a decade, Pooh and I shared misadventures we’ll never remember, and hangovers we’ll never forget. I still love him dearly… strictly in a “John Wayne” kinda way!]

Pooh sez . . .

(Subject to change without notice) Album Cover - Comments

Dad’s, darkness, and Exxon signs. What more can you ask for? Listened to this over and over through the headphones, hating my dad, and my lot in life. And in retrospect, doesn’t the Boss look a little waify here?


Several other VM albums should have made it to this list but I wanted to dazzle you with my diversity. Actually this one is extra special due to the experiences shared listening to it. You know who you are! The Back Room is reminiscent of days and nights spent drinking in my dad’s liquor store. Then there’s Brown-Eyed Girl, TB Sheets, and an early version of Madame George among other great songs.

A good combination of pensive and happy music that came along at a great time in my life. Even waited in line over night for tickets to this tour. You’ve got the brooding The River and up-beat Hungry Heart as the album meanders through dark points and highlights. Always reminds me of good times and good friends!


Get out your lighter and start chanting Freebird! Possibly the best road trip album of all time. What would high school have been without Freebird and Sweet Home Alabama?


One of the best albums of all time. I still don’t understand all of it but it is great and the music is superb.


Another album where I was in a transition. What better way to explore transitioning from your teens to young adulthood than by splitting yourself into 4 different personalities. Love Reign o’er Me, Dr. Jimmy and the Punk and the Godfather. And of course there’s Townsend’s windmill and Keith Moon’s self-destruction. Who’s Next almost made it to the list.


Nothing says Summer to me more (well maybe Vin Scully’s voice on the radio) than the Beach Boys. You get sand between your toes just listening to this.


A sucker for anything Irish, but this paid off. Nice hard rockin’ stuff mixed with Dancing In The Moonlight… I just wish The Boys Are Back In Town was on this album.


My brother returned from a Summer in England with this album. It was glossier than the U.S. version and although I didn’t understand much of the lyrics at the time, it was new and different and I liked it.


It was a toss up between this and Rain Dogs. But any album with songs titled Bad Liver And A Broken Heart, The Piano Has Been Drinking (Not Me) and Pasties And A G-String is in my top 15 no matter what. Great album to make you turn out the lights and get all melancholy like.


One of the best break-up albums of all time. Careful not to get bile on your fingers when you take out the CD.


Another album that got me through a transition. Just a great pop album with some good sounds and lyrics. Clocks, Amsterdam and the Scientist are my favs.


Why yes, that is Bobby Dylan’s boy Jakob. Another album that got me to circumvent a broken heart. Bringing Down the Horse and his other albums are pretty good too.


Schlitz Malt Liquor, Old English 800, Boone’s Farm, Marlboros and Smoke On The Water, nuf said. One of the most recognizable (and simplest) riffs of all time. And then there’s Highway Star. Did anyone listen to side 2?


Okay, let’s go over this mixture, Ozzy, being a teenager, first beer and pot buzz, and testosterone …need I say more? I AM IRONMAN!...Paraonoid...I will admit I never understood Fairies Wear Boots.


[The Flying Aardvark – known as Cinephiliac when I first met her – is truly one of the very nicest persons I have ever met. Ever! She’s so nice, in fact, that it’s a wonder she has anything at all to do with a curmudgeonly cur like me. The stuffs she makes in her kitchen is unbelievably delicious. She really should go into the business of selling baked goods. She makes – hands-down! – the best chocolate chip cookies I’ve ever tasted, and her rum balls are – (hic!) – to kill or die for.]

The Flyin’ Aard sez . . .

Hey, Stephen:

This was actually kind of a challenge. There aren't that many albums I like in their entirety - 3 or 4 favorite songs on an album is my average. I wondered how I should then apply the criteria to select "favorites." 50/50? 60/40? Should I include soundtracks as they are usually a compilation of various artists? Is the fact that I might buy an album over and over again in different formats a clear indication of it being a favorite?

Do you think I'm being insanely O.C.D. about this? Well, after taking a short break to alphabetize and index my garbage and then color code my sock drawer, I decided to rummage through my albums (such as they are) and just pull out ones I really like, and then narrow those down to 15.

Here they be (some have a short explanation, some don't).
1. King of the Delta Blues Singers - Robert Johnson:

Do you even have to ask?

2. The Best of Ray Charles:

I listened to this album almost nonstop during my college days. Still love Mr. Charles. Saw him in concert at the Hollywood Bowl shortly before he passed.

3. Ry Cooder - The Slide Area:

Quintessential blues. His vocals are thin and reedy but his guitar playing is incendiary. I am sure he signed up at the same crossroads as Mr. Johnson.

4. Robert Cray - Strong Persuader:

Great contemporary blues album.

5. Chris Issacs - Heart Shaped World:

Great Roy Orbison-y tortured vocals and bluesy guitar playing.

6. The Beatles' "White Album":

I know the Beatles were in a weird transitional phase when they recorded this and the songs are all over the place, but that is one of the main reasons I like it so much. Although, back in the day, I am pretty sure I owned every single Beatles LP, I especially love this one as it contains my all-time favorite Beatles song (by my favorite Beatle) - George Harrison's 'While My Guitar Gently Weeps.' The song still gives me goose bumps when I hear it - even after all these years.

7. The Doors:

Their first album introduced me to something I hadn't experienced before - a melding of classical, early electronica, straight rock and blues music with absolutely gorgeous lyrics that were both mysterious and compelling. Jim Morrison didn't have what I would call a "great" voice, but it was very interesting and it worked perfectly with The Doors' eccentric musical style.

8. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – Anthology / Through the Years:

Even though I liked a lot of Tom Petty's songs and went to one of his concerts, I didn't consider myself a big fan until I watched the documentary "Running Down A Dream". I just fell in love with his ornery and outspoken personality, and I discovered how much I really liked his music overall. Then when a certain Pal-O-Mine gave me BOTH the documentary and this CD, I was completely hooked. ;-)

9. The Best of the Rolling Stones - Jump Back:

The album may not contain every Rolling Stones song I like, but I like every song on the album.

10. Tom Waits - The Bone Machine:

You never would have believed me if I didn't put this one on the list. ;-)

11. The Best of Nina Simone:

Simone is one of my 2 favorite female vocalists (the other is Ella Fitzgerald). This CD has both "Wild is the Wind” and "See-Line Woman" on it.

12. The Chieftains' Long Black Veil:

I love the Chieftains, plus on this CD they collaborate with everyone from Van Morrison to Tom Jones to Ry Cooder.
(3 soundtrack albums. . .)

13. Blink:

I dearly love the mournful ballads and energized Irish dance music supplied by the Chicago rock band (The Drovers) for this film.

14. Crossroads:

Great Ry Cooder tracks and a great sampling of Mississippi blues overall.

15. The Last of the Mohicans:

My brother makes fun of the movie because of the overly melodramatic acting, but I adore the music (I think it won an Oscar for best score that year). I purchased it in multiple formats and listened to it obsessively for several years. Another Irish music influence with sweeping background instrumentals.

~The Aard~

Continued Below . . .

~ Stephen T. McCarthy
(who's continuing below also)

YE OLDE COMMENT POLICY: All comments, pro and con, are welcome. However, ad hominem attacks and disrespectful epithets will not be tolerated (read: "posted"). After all, this isn’t, so I don’t have to put up with that kind of bovine excrement.



(Continued from above - Part 2 Of 2)

This is still ‘A McBirdDogg Production’


[I met Mr. Paulboy over at (that’s “” to y’all). He posted some comments on a discussion board I had started in which I revealed what I believe(d) is the least hated song of all time. I call him “Mister” because the dude’s so intelligent he was reading Ayn Rand at the age of 14. Heck, when I was 14, I was sniffing model airplane glue and upchucking Boone’s Farm strawberry wine into the toilet at
2 AM. I myself didn’t get around to reading Ayn Rand until the terrible ‘Liquor Store Strike’ of '96, when there weren't nothin' else to do.]

Mr. Paulboy sez . . .

(I have no images of my choices. Not sure how to put them in this doc file, anyway.)

First, I will tell you what I am NOT going to take. No strains of Gregorian chant, Country and Western, military music, rap or hip-hop will be heard competing with the whispering trade winds for my auditory attention.

Obviously, if we were leaping off the ship as it goes down then I am probably not reaching for any albums. My Ipod and solar charger, maybe. But since we are thinking this out and planning on being marooned, then selecting what to take must be a logical and practical process.

I need to pack a lot of music into my 15 choices. I must have at least some of each of the following genres represented: old school rock, alternative/punk, classical, pop, blues, and opera. Even if my 15 favorite things to listen to at this moment may not include opera, going without it forever is not acceptable. The finer side must be cultivated, even if wearing ragged (or no) pants.

So in no particular order:

Opera (1):

1 – The Seraphim Guide to Opera.

This is a compilation of some of the most memorable and important opera arias, presented in a linear and historical manner and done by some of the best artists ever. The examples on this disc are not usually my VERY favorite renditions of each of the arias, but a great compilation, nonetheless. It includes performances by Franco Corelli, my favorite tenor ever, as well as Victoria de LosAngeles, one of my fave sopranos. I know what you are thinking. “OPERA? WHAT THE...?” If you do not appreciate opera you are missing something. Opera – at its best – combines the drama of a great play with the emotion and romance of music. My father studied voice for 13 years and was an excellent bass singer, so I grew up listening to opera and came early on to appreciate it. I urge you to attend one sometime... but pick one of the more accessible ones. Bizet’s “Carmen”, Rossini’s “The Barber of Seville”, or Verdi’s “Rigoletto” are good first choices and may indeed get you hooked. Do NOT – upon pain of torture – attend a Wagner opera unless you are an experienced opera-goer. With those you are in for 4 hours or meandering German sing-up-in-your-head bellowing, and you would go away thinking: “how can people listen to this stuff??”

Classical (3)
Are disc sets cheating? If so, throw me out of the game. I have a couple coming here in the classical section.

2 – Bach – The Well Tempered Clavier, by Glenn Gould.

In my book, this full set of Bach’s Preludes and Fugues for piano is the best ever. Gould was an absolute genius, though very eccentric. You can hear him (famously) humming sometimes during the recordings. Anyone else would have been made to play it over and over and to ‘STOP HUMMING”, but not him. It is part of the charm and genius. This Bach is amazing music to “think” to. Not that there will be homework to do on the island, but it would bring out “the Professor” in me. Perhaps I’d figure a way off the island with the logical progressions found in Bach.

3 – “Beethoven – The Nine Symphonies”, conducted by Herbert Karajan.

The symphonies are purchased as a set, but it includes about five discs. It represents the most complete illustration of Beethoven’s musical genius, the towering pinnacle of all music. Karajan was a great conductor, also. When listening to Beethoven I always remember how stone deaf he was by the end of his life. Try composing the Ninth Symphony (with full orchestra - all pieces playing their own complimentary parts) WITH hearing... let alone with none. We are all blithering morons compared to this guy! As Stephen would say: “Uhp! I’m an idiot!”

4 – “Mozart’s Greatest Hits” – Columbia Records

Behind Beethoven and Bach (and Verdi), Mozart ranks third (or 4th) among history’s greatest composers. (By the way: what are they all doing now? Decomposing.) Mozart’s music is more light and structured than Beethoven, but heavier than the previous generation’s style, which included Haydn. I’d be very sad if I had to spend a lifetime on the island without any Mozart.

Jazz/Pop/Blues (3):

5 – “Call of the Wildest” by Louis Prima.
This album may make it onto another island refugee’s list also. We’ll see. LOVE this album! It is fun. It also evokes irreplaceable memories of people and a time of my life. Is it jazz? Is it pop? Yes, both, sort of. But who cares! This would make my top FIVE desert island discs if I packed a smaller trunk. Keely Smith was my favorite female jazz vocalist, and Prima’s style was sort of a Dean-Martinish casual cool, but with more growl to it. Great Stuff(s)!

6 – “Time Out”, by the Dave Brubeck Quartet.
I love small combo jazz. All of that great music from the 1950s with 4 or 5 players, a sax, a piano, a bass, drums is just an essential sound to have at least a taste of on the island. Dave Brubeck is my favorite of that style. I like how he takes his piano on these wild solo excursions, and you think: “How the heck can he get back from there??” And then he does.

7 – “Live from Madison Square Garden” - Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood.
Is this Jazz? No. But it IS blues, so I throw it in here, perhaps selling short my jazz needs. But I loved this reunion of Clapton and Winwood, two supremely talented musicians. Lots of music on this disc and they take on some tunes neither have played before, and “blueses” the heck out of ‘em.


8 – “Who’s Next” by The Who.
This is perhaps my favorite album ever, and would certainly be the first one snagged as the ship took on water. I like every cut. I absorb the raw energy of the Who. I saw them in concert several times back in the day, when the jumping crowd had the two concrete upper wings of Anaheim Stadium flexing up and down 5 feet. Daltry’s voice is savage, and I can picture Townsend’s guitar windmills as I listen. When I hear The Who I want to kick somebody’s ass. Too bad I’m alone on this island. Heck... pause the music, I’m gonna walk around and see who I can find!

9 - Beatles – “Abbey Road”.
All of what I will say here you all know and has been said 357 million times before. I like every track and can - and do - sing along to it. Although I like The Who better from that same period, it is clear to me that the greatest rock band of all time is the Beatles, far and away. And Lennon/McCartney during that period were perhaps the best rock composers ever. Heck, let’s remove the word rock and just say among the best composers ever. Just this last week I went to see “Rain”, the Broadway show Beatles tribute band. I saw them before, and probably will again. It is a great show and gives a pretty good feel for what it was like in the 1960s and what the Beatles experience was like. If only I could have experienced the Beatles growing up! Hey, wait! I did.

8 – “The Traveling Wilbury Collection” (Rhino)
I really enjoy the Wilburys. This is a cheap way to get a little ELO sound, a tad more Beatles flavor, some Bob Dylan (which I am missing on this list and probably should have included), a pinch of Tom Petty, and some Roy Orbison (who I am ambivalent about, but I’ll take him anyway).

11 – Cat Stevens – “The Very Best of Cat Stevens”.
OK, I have severe reservations about bringing “Yusef” with me to the island, and will only do so if I can steal the disc rather than pay for it. I don’t want my money funneled to any Islamic terror groups, as was alleged of him several years ago. But I loved Cat Stevens in the early 70s, and he was a great songwriter. He probably is not now, though I wouldn’t know.

12 – “Third Eye Blind” – Third Eye Blind.
I am getting into an area of the list here where the musical style will put you off. I really like punk and alternative music. 3eb is a melodic alternative rock band, with a great combination of acoustic and raunchy guitars and an excellent drummer. The tempo often varies within the song. Some tunes that made the charts are: “Semi-Charmed Life", "Graduate", "How's It Going to Be", "Losing a Whole Year", and "Jumper". "Semi-Charmed Life" peaked at #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was number 1 on the Modern Rock Tracks for 8 weeks. Also their single "Jumper" went to #5 on the Billboard Hot 100. I can listen to this over and over. Seen ‘em in concert, too.

13 – Killers – “Sam’s Town”.
A post-punk rock band. This album was voted the most underrated album of the decade by Rolling Stone readers. I’ve seen these guys twice in concert, and the music is right up my alley. I find it really inventive, with good melodies.

14 – Green Day – “International Superhits”.
This is sort of an early greatest hits disc, but I really like their latest work too. I’ve seen them in concert 3 times, and they give a great show. Hate their politics... but what can you do? I hate everyone’s politics! Their last two albums – not included here – borrow VERY heavily from The Who’s Tommy and Quadrophenia as rock operas.

15 - Angels and Airwaves – I-Empire.
Here is Tom DeLonge from Blink 182 with his side band... which I like even more than Blink. This is melodic, harmonious rock. I can listen to this over and over and not get sick of it. Which is good on this damned island. Do you use Itunes? You rank how much you like each track with 1 to 5 stars. Of the 12 tracks on the CD, 8 are fives, 2 are fours, then a 3 and a 2. Dems pretty good odds and illustrate how much I like the album. This would make my top 5 discs if the list was smaller.

So that is my 15.

But I really struggled with my final choices. I sincerely regret not having:

~ Avril Lavigne – “Let’s Go”.
No, really. It is a very good album! Love it. Her first, with great melodies and lyrics.

~ Blink 182 – “Enema of the State”.
This is the album with Jesse James’ new girlfriend on the cover. In spite of that, I like it.

~ Bob Dylan – “The Essential Bob Dylan”.

~ Bob Marley and the Wailers – “Uprising”

~ Fleetwood Mac – “Rumours”.
The best of their several very good albums. It hits memories of the time of my young life for me.

~ James Taylor’s Greatest Hits.
I’ve always thought he was the best folk songwriter and guitarist of them all.

~ Jethro Tull – “Stand Up”.
It is very early Tull, and has Clive Bunker on drums, who has a very jazz-influenced style. The whole album is very bluesy, with that combination of evil folksy flute sound tossed in. The track “Nothing is Easy” is just fabulous.

~ Joni Mitchell – “Court and Spark”.
Man, was I in a lovesick mood when this hit! Hearing this album pushes every emotional button in me. Except “The Who” button.

~ Led Zeppelin 1.
I was 13 when this came out. It really was a game-changer. Heavy, man.

~ Rachmaninoff’s 2nd Piano Concerto, with Entremont and Bernstein.
Ayn Rand’s favorite musical piece.

~ Styx – “Greatest Hits”.
Love me dem Styx!

~ Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – “Greatest Hits”.

~ Who – “Quadrophenia”.
The best rock opera, in my book. Where is more ass to kick?

I just was letting you know what was close to making the cut. It really wasn’t a way to sneak in more picks.


[Kat is a lovely Christian woman and married mother of two, whom I met when she was only lovely and womanly and none of the rest of those things. She and I catted around and had great times and adventures (most of which I DO remember). Kat and I are professional authors, having collaborated on the (in)famous book ‘Calamity Cat’s And Black Cole Kid’s Uncomplicated Guide To Western Movies For The Simple-Minded Cowperson’, which actually sold like three copies in a movie video rental shop in Santa Monica, California back in 1990. Unfortunately, TN Kat has become rebellious and decided not to play by the rules. Instead of submitting a 15-album list, she submitted a list of 180 songs. It’s only because she put so much work into this and because she means so much to me (and because some of her favorite songs are also some of my favorite songs) that I have allowed her to get away with this and consented to post her list. But I remember back when she "Ain't Misbehavin'" and "we had it all, just like Bogie and Bacall".]

TN Kat sez . . .

Well, I never listen to albums/CDs anymore. I put individual songs on my MP3 player, and that's what I listen to. At any given time I have a plethora of different artists and genres of music which can suit my mood.

I thought about the old days of albums, and figured most albums had 10-12 songs each, so with the guideline of choosing 15 albums, I chose a mix of 180 songs (15x12) that I would take with me to a desert island. I know this takes up a lot more space, but tough! This is my list!


Pretty Women
Alan Rickman & Johnny Depp
Sweeney Todd

I Finally Found Someone
Barbra Streisand & Bryan Adams
Mirror Has Two Faces

All The Time
Barry Manilow

Beyond The Sea
Bobby Darin

You Made Me Love You
Bobby Darin
Spotlight On

All By Myself
Bobby Darin
Spotlight on

Don’t Rain On My Parade
Bobby Darin
The Shadow of Your Smile

Bobby Darin
The Shadow of Your Smile

The Ballad of Cat Ballou
Bobby Darin
The Shadow of Your Smile

Some Of These Days
Brenda Lee
Brenda Lee

Once Love Makes A Fool Of You
Brenda Lee
Brenda Lee

Break It To Me Gently
Brenda Lee
Brenda Lee Story

Brian Setzer Orchestra

Green Leaves Of Summer
Brothers Four
Alamo Soundtrack

The Surrey With The Fringe On Top
Gordon Macrae
Oklahoma Soundtrack

People Will Say We’re In Love
Shirley Jones & Gordon Macrae
Oklahoma Soundtrack

All That Jazz
Catherine Zeta-Jones
Chicago Soundtrack

Wishing You Were Here
Greatest Hits Vol 1

Just You N’ Me
Greatest Hits Vol 1

Nothin’ But The Taillights
Clint Black
Nothin’ But The Taillights

Once Upon A Dream
Mary Costa
Sleeping Beauty Soundtrack

You Can Fly, You Can Fly, You Can Fly
Peter Pan Soundtrack

Sixty Minute Man

Deep Purple
Donny & Marie
Donny & Marie Osmond

Pure Love
Eddie Rabbitt
Eddie Rabbitt

The Room At The Top Of The Stairs
Eddie Rabbitt

Such A Night
Elvis Presley
Love Songs

I’d Really Love To See You Tonight
England Dan & John Ford Coley
Best Of….

You’re Just In Love
Ethel Merman & Donald O’Connor
Call Me Madame Soundtrack

Here’s To Love
Ewan Mcgregor & Renee Zellweger
Down With Love Soundtrack

Someone To Watch Over Me
Frank Sinatra
Capitol Years

The One I Love Belongs To Someone Else
Frank Sinatra
Capitol Years

Change The World
Eric Clapton
Phenomenon Soundtrack

Fishin’ In The Dark
Garth Brooks
The Lost Sessions

Baby I Will
Gary Allan
It Would Be You

Nothing On But The Radio
Gary Allan
See If I Care

Dream Away
George Harrison
Gone Troppo

We Really Shouldn’t Be Doing This
George Strait
One Step At A Time

Maybe This Time
Kristen Chenoweth
Glee Soundtrack

Gentle On My Mind
Glen Campbell
Classics Collection

Little Lamb
Cynthia Gibb
Gypsy Soundtrack (1993)

If Momma Was Married
Cynthia Gibb & June (?)
Gypsy Soundtrack (1993)

All I Need Is The Girl
Jeffrey Broadhurst
Gypsy Soundtrack (1993)

It Takes Two
Zac Efron
Hairspray Soundtrack

Big Blonde & Beautiful
Queen Latifah
Hairspray Soundtrack

Finders Are Keepers
Hank Williams Jr.
Greatest Hits Vol 3

My Sentimental Friend
Herman’s Hermits
Greatest Hits

Ashley Tisdale
High School Musical 2

I Don’t Dance
Corbin Bleu & Lucas Grabeel
High School Musical 2

Hip To Be Square
Huey Lewis & The News

Better To Have and Not Need
Huey Lewis & The News
Four Chords & Several Years Ago

You Left The Water Running
Huey Lewis & The News
Four Chords & Several Years Ago

Build Me Up
Huey Lewis & The News
Hard At Play

It Hit Me Like A Hammer
Huey Lewis & The News
Hard At Play

Do You Believe In Love
Huey Lewis & The News
Picture This

If This Is It
Huey Lewis & The News

The Power Of Love
Huey Lewis & The News
Back To The Future Soundtrack

East Bound & Down
Jerry Reed
Smokey & The Bandit Soundtrack

Unbreakable Heart
Jessica Andrews
Heart Shaped World

Helplessly Hopelessly
Jessica Andrews
Who I Am

Good Time
Jessica Andrews

Got Down
Jim Stafford
Not Just Another Pretty Foot

Your Bulldog Drinks Champagne
Jim Stafford
Not Just Another Pretty Foot

Johnny Mathis
16 Most Requested Songs

Small World
Johnny Mathis
16 Most Requested Songs

Wonderful Wonderful
Johnny Mathis
16 Most Requested Songs

Didn’t We
Johnny Mathis
16 Most Requested Songs

Le Jazz Hot
Julie Andrews
Victor Victoria

Bare Necessities
Phil Harris
Jungle Book Soundtrack

I Wanna Be Like You
Louis Prima & Phil Harris
Jungle Book Soundtrack

I’ll Take Care Of You
Kathy Mattea
Willow In The Wind

Mary Did You Know
Kathy Mattea
Good News

Life As We Knew It
Kathy Mattea
Untasted Honey

Goin’ Gone
Kathy Mattea
Untasted Honey

Late In The Day
Kathy Mattea
Untasted Honey

Lonesome Standard Time
Kathy Mattea
Special Collection

Kathy Mattea
Time Passes By

Ain’t Misbehavin’
Hank Williams Jr.
Greatest Hits Vol 3

I Wish You Love
Keely Smith
Keely Smith

Fools Rush In
Keely Smith
Keely Smith

Cancion Del Mariachi
Antonio Banderas
Desperado Soundtrack

Little River Band

Don’t Let The Good Life Pass You By
Mama Cass
Mama’s Big Ones

Ain’t Nobody Else Like You
Mama Cass
Mama’s Big Ones

El Paso
Marty Robbins
A Lifetime Of Song

Ballad Of The Alamo
Marty Robbins
No 1 Cowboy

Red River Valley
Marty Robbins
No 1 Cowboy

Spider –Man Theme
Michael Buble
Spiderman Soundtrack

When Does A Dream Begin
Neil Innes

Spirit In The Sky
Norman Greenbaum

Good Morning Starshine

There’s A Sucker Born Ev’ry Minute
Jim Dale
Barnum Soundtrack

I Like Your Style
Jim Dale & Glenn Close
Barnum Soundtrack

I’ll Never Say No
Harve Presnell
Unsinkable Molly Brown Soundtrack

They Call The Wind Maria
Harve Presnell
Paint Your Wagon Soundtrack

Wand’rin’ Star
Lee Marvin
Paint Your Wagon Soundtrack

Razzle Dazzle
Richard Gere
Chicago Soundtrack

All I Care About
Richard Gere
Chicago Soundtrack

We Both Reached For The Gun
Richard Gere & Renee Zellweger
Chicago Soundtrack

If Ever I Would Leave You
Richie Cole

Addicted To Love
Robert Palmer

Carousel Waltz
Carousel Soundtrack

Along The Navajo Trail
Roy Rogers
Home On The Range

Don’t Fence Me In
Roy Rogers
Home On The Range

Home On The Range
Roy Rogers
Home On The Range

Hold On Partner
Roy Rogers & Clint Black
Tribute To Roy Rogers

Final Frontier
Roy Rogers & Kathy Mattea
Tribute To Roy Rogers

Tumbling Tumbleweeds
Roy Rogers & KT Oslin
Tribute To Roy Rogers

That’s How The West Was Swung
Roy Rogers & The Kentucky Headhunters
Tribute To Roy Rogers

Maple Leaf Rag
Scott Joplin
Piano Rags

Christmas Children
Bob Crachit ?
Scrooge Soundtrack

Scrooge Soundtrack

Ghost Riders In The Sky
Marty Robbins

My Redeemer Is Faithful & True
Steven Curtis Chapman
First Hand

Busy Man
Steven Curtis Chapman
For The Sake Of The Call

Burn The Ships
Steven Curtis Chapman
Heaven In The Real World

Facts Are Facts
Steven Curtis Chapman
Heaven In The Real World

Waiting For Lightning
Steven Curtis Chapman
More To This Life

Steven Curtis Chapman
Real Life Conversations

Tuesday’s Child
Steven Curtis Chapman
Real Life Conversations

Rubber Meets The Road
Steven Curtis Chapman
Signs Of Life

The Walk
Steven Curtis Chapman
Signs Of Life

The Great Adventure
Steven Curtis Chapman
The Great Adventure

Moon Over Bourbon Street
The Dream Of The Blue Turtles

In My Room
Beach Boys

The Night Before

She Loves You
Greatest Hits

Abbey Road

Papa Gene’s Blues
The Monkees
The Monkees

Love Is Only Sleeping
The Monkees
Pisces Aquarius Capricorn and Jones Ltd

Tapioca Tundra
The Monkees
The Birds The Bees & The Monkees

Brown Eyed Girl
Van Morrison
Bang Masters

The Smile You Smile
Van Morrison
Bang Masters

Real Real Gone
Van Morrison

Bright Side Of The Road
Van Morrison
Into The Music

You Make Me Feel So Free
Van Morrison
Into The Music

Van Morrison

Queen Of The Slipstream
Van Morrison
Poetic Champions Compose

Someone Like You
Van Morrison
Poetic Champions Compose

Winnie The Pooh
Disney Chorus
Classic Disney, Vol 4

On The Front Porch
Burl Ives
Music Of Disney

Honky Tonk Heroes
Waylon Jennings
Greatest Hits

Her Man
Waylon Jennings
The Eagle

Rough & Rowdy Days
Waylon Jennings
A Man Called Hoss

Marry Me Now
David Carradine & Co.
Will Rogers Follies

Key Largo
Bertie Higgins

Afternoon Delight
Starland Vocal Band

Three Dog Night

It Only Hurts When I Cry
Donna Loren
Beach Party

High Anxiety
Mel Brooks
High Anxiety

The Night They Invented Champagne

I Want It All
Ashley Tisdale & Lucas Grabeel
High School Musical 3

Beautiful Things
Anthony Newley
Doctor Doolittle Soundtrack

Fabulous Places
Anthony Newley, Samantha Eggar & Rex Harrison
Doctor Doolittle Soundtrack

Election Day
So Red The Rose

Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song
B.J. Thomas

Cowboys Are My Weakness
Trish Yearwood

Moon Over The Rio Grande
Michael Nesmith

Hello Goodbye
Magical Mystery Tour

Lonesome, On’ry and Mean
Waylon Jennings
Greatest Hits

Good Hearted Woman
Waylon Jennings
Greatest Hits


Home In The Meadow
Debbie Reynolds
How The West Was Won Soundtrack

Meet Me Down On Mainstreet
The Mellomen
Music Of Disney

Half Past April & A Quarter To May
Gene Kelly & Bobby Rhia
Jack & The Beanstalk Soundtrack

The Three Song
Smothers Brothes w/Esther Ofarim

Ooh La La

That Darn Cat
Louis Prima
Aristocats & Other Cat Songs

Long Ago & Far Away
Gene Kelly
Cover Girl

My Baby Just Cares For Me
Gene Kelly
Song & Dance Man

The One That’s Run Away
Tommy Steele
Half A Sixpence

Longtime Blues
Smothers Brothers
Mom Always Liked You Best

Hey There
Tommy Steele
Sixpenny Millionaire

Too Close For Comfort
Tommy Steele
Sixpenny Millionaire

Down In The Valley
Smothers Brothers
Smothers Brothers Play It Straight

Sailors Lament
Smothers Brothers
Two Sides Of The Smothers Brothers

The Four Winds & The Seven Seas
Smothers Brothers
Two Sides Of The Smothers Brothers

She’s Gone Forever
Smothers Brothers
Tour De Farce…

That’s My Song
Smothers Brothers
Tour De Farce…

I Ain’t Workin’
Jim Stafford
Not Just Another Pretty Foot

It is my intention to return here in the next few days and post list-related remarks in the comment section to each of these four friends, praising them where I feel they should be praised and making smart-azzed comments whenever I can because . . . I CAN!

I gotta be ME! ;o)

But for right now, let me just say most sincerely: I thank you Pooh, Aard, Mr. Paulboy, and Kountess Kat for taking the time to play along with me. Your participation is greatly appreciated. And I hope ya had some fun with it.

See y’all again real soon . . .

Ukulelely Yours,

~ Stephen T. McCarthy

YE OLDE COMMENT POLICY: All comments, pro and con, are welcome. However, ad hominem attacks and disrespectful epithets will not be tolerated (read: "posted"). After all, this isn’t, so I don’t have to put up with that kind of bovine excrement.

Monday, May 17, 2010



Back in February or March, when it first occurred to me to post on my blog the “must-have” music albums I would need if confined on an otherwise musicless island, I considered what numerical restrictions ought to be self-imposed. 10? 20? 30?

Well, even for someone who loves music as much as I do, I realized that I could create a list of twenty albums and then set sail without too much anxiety. True, I would be leaving behind a great deal of great music, but I could do it without a lot of self-flagellation. But I think that anyone who can compile a “desert island” music list and not feel some pangs of guilt and regret isn’t doing it right. So, I determined that twenty albums was too many.

Generally, when lists of this nature are proposed, ten entries seems to be the standard limit permitted. However, I realized immediately that my love of music is too profound and expansive to limit myself to an extremely painful number like ten.

I wanted the list to represent the crème de la crème of my music collection, so it needed to cause me some discomfort but not so much that it would take the enjoyment out of the game. I mean, heck, I dig that lingering capsaicin burn of a jalapeno pepper in my mouth, but I ain’t gonna sit down and eat two pounds of habanero peppers all at once. Well, at least not without an unlimited supply of cold beer within easy reach. So, fifteen seemed like the perfect “jalapeno compromise” between bell pepper and habanero.

Although I tend to be overly analytical at times, I compiled my list of music albums in an entirely unscientific manner. I was not concerned with questions of genre and variety, not interested in attempting to impress anyone with quality by including perceived “highbrow” recordings. Had that been the case, surely I would have placed the Miles Davis / Gil Evans collaboration on George Gershwin’s ‘Porgy And Bess’ compositions on this list, as it’s a recording that I feel should be familiar to every educated music fan. (Yes, I prefer it to Davis’ ‘Kind Of Blue’, in the same way that I prefer John Coltrane’s ‘Blue Train’ to his heavily worshipped ‘A Love Supreme’.)

My criterion for inclusion came down to the answering of a simple question: Which albums would most negatively impact my enjoyment of life if I did not have access to them? The eclecticism of my list, therefore, is an organic representation of my appreciation of wide-ranging musical types and styles, and it was not molded or manipulated by any artificially applied “affirmative action”. In other words, plain and simple: These are the 15 compact discs that contain the most amount of music that I love the most.

Sentimental considerations never entered into my thinking until I was left with just one remaining spot open on my list and had to weigh the test of time against the amount of music per disc and then compare those factors to the sentimental attachment to the music.

Other than the fact that the first three albums appearing on my list probably do represent my “Top Trio”, the recordings are not being presented in any particular order.

Special thanks go to Arlee Bird of the blog ‘Tossing It Out’, who suggested making the ‘Fifteen Fantasy Island Favorites’ a blog community festival. I’m really pleased he thought of that.

I also wish to thank Jessica of ‘The Alliterative Allomorph’ for sharing with me her idea to add song sample links.

At the end of each album’s commentary, you will find a link to one song from that recording. Click on it and it should take you to a page with a link to a song sample – sometimes just 30 seconds long and sometimes the entire song. I believe that if you click on the sample, you can then click your “Back” button and return to my list while still being able to hear the song sample as it plays. [*Fingers crossed*]

I am indeed experiencing the appropriate degree of pain that a limited list of desert island music albums ought to inflict. Having submitted a list that does not include any Howlin’ Wolf or Tiny Tim (this is the first time in history that those two names have appeared in the same sentence) or the Philip Glass soundtrack to my favorite movie ‘Koyaanisqatsi’, leaves me feeling as if I have cheated on a girlfriend. No, I have never cheated on a woman, but I can’t imagine that doing so would grieve my conscience any more than this does.

And I’m sailing today without ‘Merry Christmas’ by Johnny Mathis, Van Morrison’s ‘Hymns To The Silence’, ‘The Best Of WAR And More’, or Leroy Anderson’s 1950 instrumental masterpiece ‘Sleigh Ride’. On this island, the rum had better be plentiful and the womens had better be beautiful or I’m gonna be one cranky customer!

Well, as Howlin’ Wolf would say (if he were here), “Alright, let’s get on it!”

Stephen T. McCarthy’s


Below is an excerpt of a review I wrote for the Amazon website on October 30, 2005:

I'm Always IN THE (Miller) MOOD!
This may be a bit more information than you want, but I first realized that Glenn Miller's MOONLIGHT SERENADE was my all-time favorite piece of music in 1990 while I was on a second floor "lavatory throne" at The Sundowner Hotel & Casino in Reno, Nevada. I was minding my own “business” when the song was piped into the men's room over the casino's sound system. I recognized the beautifully lilting melody as belonging to Glenn Miller, and the bygone Big Band era seemed to beckon me, transporting me back in time. I was almost convinced that when I exited the stall I would find a restroom attendant present, who would offer me a genuine cotton towel and ask if I wanted a shoeshine and a splash of Old Spice before rejoining the suit and fedora-wearing gentlemen and the sleek black dress and single strand pearl necklace-wearing ladies in the gambling parlor.
Instead it was my T-shirt and baseball cap-wearing Pa and Bro I found waiting for me at the slot machine infested snack bar. I hummed the melody and asked my Dad if he knew the title. He was pretty sure that it was MOONLIGHT SERENADE I was trying to imitate. When I got home, I realized that I had recognized the song because it was one that my girlfriend regularly played at our favorite watering hole [‘H9’ on the Crest House Cocktail Lounge jukebox].
A week or two later I was in a record store debating whether to buy a single disc Glenn Miller compilation or this 3-disc set. I finally settled on this package, and have been rewarded generously ever since!
Yes, it's all here! The beautiful ballads, the energetic dance romps, and the silly lyrics that speak of a far simpler and more playful time. Glenn Miller's THE POPULAR RECORDINGS (1938-1942) would have to be my choice if I could only carry one CD with me to that imaginary "island." (Has anybody ever explained how we're going to get electricity on this island in order to play our "island discs"?) This set would have to go, because I can't imagine never hearing MOONLIGHT SERENADE ever again. Plus, it's just loaded with terrific tunes to daydream by. But you'd better hope that you aren't there with me because I'm gonna be pretty irritable on that island without my Pat Metheny Group recordings. I'll take it out on the macaws by blasting the rip-roaring GLENN ISLAND SPECIAL every time they're trying to sleep. That'll serve 'em right for driving me up the banana tree with their incessant squawking!

Song Sample: ‘Moonlight Serenade’

My relationship to music is a very personal one. I mean, pretty much everything that I do, I’m doing between me and it. I think as soon as you cross that line where you’re worrying about what other people say about you, you’re in big trouble, because then you’re always guessing.
~ Pat Metheny

I had never heard of Pat Metheny, didn’t know the first thing about his music, but while in a record store one day in 1986, I found myself so intrigued by the cover of his live album ‘Travels’, that I took a chance and laid my money down. GOOD MOVE! I fell in love with the PatMet stuffs!

Between 1984 and 1989, the Pat Metheny Group released a trilogy of Brazilian-influenced albums – each of them was considered for this list. But overall, my favorite was the third: ‘Letter From Home’. Never mind the fact that Metheny is a world-class Jazz guitarist, what I find most enthralling is the “complexity of his simple compositions” that become downright addictive and never tiresome.

And there is something about these tunes that make them the perfect soundtrack for the road. God only knows how many miles I have logged while listening to Metheny. From 1986 to 1992, I traveled the criss-crossing Los Angeles freeways daily with the Pat Metheny Group as my accompaniment. And it’s been the same soundtrack since I moved here to Airheadzona. I’m not even sure I could find fifth gear if PatMet wasn’t emanating from my car speakers. When I’m preparing for a road trip, the very first thing I pack in my suitcase is the Pat Metheny Group.

The Rule Of The Road: Ninety-eight out of one hundered times, if Stephen T. McCarthy is driving, Pat Metheny is playing.

Song Sample: ‘Better Days Ahead’

It was 1978. Having crossed Sunset Boulevard a few blocks back, I was driving north on Highland Avenue, nearly adjacent to the Hollywood Bowl, when the AM radio station I was listening to played this 10-minute Jazzy piece recorded live and which featured a Hammond B-3 organ that had my head spinning. The entire time the song played, I was thinking to myself: Tell me who this is, DJ! – Tell me who this is, DJ! The DJ did (God bless him!) and within the next couple of days I had purchased my first Jazz album: ‘Live Oblivion’. Well, it wasn’t a Jazz album in the purest sense; more like Jazz/Funk fusion. But this is the album that genuinely ignited my interest in musical forms other than Rock.

By 1985, I was listening to more Blues than Rock, and by 1987, Jazz had become my favorite musical form. I had come to realize that I had a greater appreciation for Wes Montgomery than I did for Jimi Hendrix, for Joe Morello than I did for John Bonham, for Ben Webster than I did for Ian Anderson – yes, they both blew, but one of them wasn’t wearing long hair and dressed in tights when he did it.

Over the decades, my most loved musical instrument went from being the electric guitar to the tenor saxophone to the Hammond B-3 organ. I could name a slew of B-3 Masters right off the top of my head who crank out music I dearly dig, but my favorite has remained Brian Auger. Man! That is one downright funky, English White boy! And unquestionably, the song that I have whistled the most in my lifetime is ‘Bumpin’ On Sunset’. Incidentally, it was a Wes Montgomery original.

Song Sample [actually, this one’s a video]: ‘Bumpin’ On Sunset’

I nearly wrote this one off at first as another one of Pat’s experiments in unlistenable, atonal racket. But in time, I came to recognize it as one of his best. Here is what two different reviewers have had to say about this album:

“If you're not turned off by the description of new-age classical world-beat jazz (and you're prepared to give it a good while to grow on you), you'll find more feeling and depth to this album than I can sum up in words.”

“Once in your life, you should spend an hour and do nothing but listen to this record on a good stereo. It's like PM became a classical music composer and a conductor. Some folks don't like it because of all the symphony stuff, but it really works.”

Yes, the album is almost a Jazz/Classical fusion with many orchestrated tracks, some which are complex and challenging. In fact, ‘Above The Treetops’ (guest starring the Choir of the Cambodian Royal Palace) and ‘Finding And Believing’ never did grow on me. But the other tracks feature some lovely melodies and exquisite guitar playing from Metheny.

Another reviewer at Amazon had this to say about the twelfth track on the set:

"The Truth Will Always Be is my vote for Pat's finest composition on any album. The tune is so strong that you can almost visualize the story behind it.”

I couldn’t agree with him more. In my opinion, I think ‘The Truth Will Always Be’ is possibly the last true masterpiece composition we have received from the mind of Metheny. The reviewer’s remark about being able to “visualize the story behind it” is spot on:

Sadly, it seems that Pat Metheny is an irreligious man, and one who holds political views that are 180 degrees removed from my own. I guess God blessed Pat with an overabundance of musical talent but gave his portion of intelligence to me. Well, nobody gets it ALL!

I have no idea what Metheny had in mind when he dreamed up ‘The Truth Will Always Be’, but taking the above into consideration, I think we can be sure it isn’t the “story” that I “visualize” when I hear the 9-minute instrumental. But I find the track to be one of the most spiritually powerful I have ever heard . . .
While it’s playing, I see a three act play in my mind. During the first section, with the tolling of the bells, I see Jesus Christ carrying his cross to Calvary, the streets lined with citizens, some weeping and some jeering. The second movement begins when the drum starts its slow and steady pounding. Now I’m seeing the nails being pounded into the wrists and feet of Christ, and as we hear the sweeping, stirring strings, I see the cross of Christ slowly being raised and set into the ground, and later, The Lord’s dead body placed into the cave. And then… and then… you hear Pat Metheny’s synth-guitar enter. You know it’s coming when you hear it make a sound as if it’s “winding itself up” for the coming uproar, just before it EXPLODES and goes sailing, singing and soaring above EVERYTHING! And this, of course, represents that explosion of Divine power, grace and forgiveness, when Christ Jesus is resurrected from the dead to save humanity from its sins.

Pat Metheny’s album ‘Secret Story’ would be going with me to my Desert Island even if I hated every single track other than ‘The Truth Will Always Be’ – that’s how much track #12 means to me, regardless of what it might signify for Metheny himself.

I've always been different, with one foot over the line;
Winding up somewhere one step ahead or behind.
It ain't been so easy, but I guess I shouldn't complain;
I've always been crazy, but it's kept me from going insane.
~ Waylon Jennings
[from his song ‘I’ve Always Been Crazy’]

“He didn’t become a legend by following the rules.”
~ RCA advertising slogan for Waylon Jennings merchandise

Everything I've ever really needed to know,
I've found in one Waylon Jennings song or another.
~ Stephen T. McCarthy

I bought my first Waylon Jennings album – ‘I’ve Always Been Crazy’ – in 1978, after hearing the title track played on KMET (“The Mighty Met”), Los Angeles – my Classic Rock station of choice. Of course, it wasn’t categorized as “Classic” back then; it was just the contemporary Rock that we annoyed our parents with. And back then, there was a great deal of variety being played on the FM, so it wasn’t entirely unheard of to find a Country-Western artist like Waylon getting a little airplay on a Rock station.

I immediately recognized ‘I’ve Always Been Crazy’ as pretty much a personal anthem. And to tell ya the truth, it pretty much still is my personal anthem.

The question you’re undoubtedly thinking is: Stephen, even though it does have one of the coolest album covers ever conceived, why did you choose this compilation collection when the 2-disc set ‘The Essential Waylon Jennings’ contains every one of the 11 tracks on ‘Greatest Hits’ as well as 31 other great Waylon tunes?

And the answer is: When I start out thinking of a musician, there’s usually one absolutely “must-have” song. In this case, for me, it’s ‘Honky Tonk Heroes’ – the best of the best of Waylon.

Unfortunately, the 2-disc ‘The Essential Waylon Jennings’ set borrowed the version of ‘Honky Tonk Heroes’ from the original album rather than the superior version from the famous ‘Wanted! The Outlaws’ (the first Country music album to sell one million copies). Yes, the first version has the better drumming, but the ‘Outlaws’ version has the far better, rough ‘n’ rowdy vocal performance from Waylon. And I don’t listen to Nashville’s “Outlaw” for drumming, I listen to him for the vocals, for that rumbling guitar of his, and, of course, for the exceptional playing of legendary steel guitar player Ralph Mooney.

Waylon In Concert: I used to practically live in Hollywood music clubs – the Whisky, the Roxy, the Troubadour, Filthy McNasty’s, Club 88 – I have seen more music performed on stage than I could possibly remember. And I was fortunate to have seen Waylon perform four sets at three different venues in the late 1980s / early ‘90s. Waylon had charisma to burn and was funnier’n hell! If this was a list of “Top 15 Music Shows”, he would be at #1. “Hey-Hey” – as Waylon sez just before kickin’ butt in ‘Honky Tonk Heroes’.

Song Sample: ‘Lonesome, On’ry And Mean’
TOM WAITS / 1974

White man on the Blues. Down and out. Hmmm… Got enough for a shot and a beer. Overcoat collar turned up against this rainy night. Bloodshot moon reflected in a puddle. Is that an angel crying in the alley? Scroungy tomcat startled the hell out of me. “Tin cans to yer tail!” A saxophone somewhere far off played. It’s way wilder down the street. Pool balls a-crackin’, the neon’s a-buzzin’. Yo, Bart! Set ‘em up, I’ll knock ‘em down! Rinky-tink piano player’s drunk on the moon, crazy as a loon. Everyone’s a bit insane. I never heard the melody until I needed the song. Hey, buddy, can you spare… the time? Point me in the direction of the door? And now the town’s in the keeping of the one who is sweeping . . . up the ghosts of Saturday night. (I think I may be hungover tomorrow.)

The second album recorded by Tom Waits establishes a mood and then rides that mood into the wee small hours. This album could make even a teetotaler feel lightheaded. It’s cinematic. All Bluesy, urban, and film noir. You can smell the stale beer and taste the cigarette smoke. You can feel the darts striking the dartboard and hear the glug, glug, glug of cheap red wine being poured out into a chipped glass behind the bar. And you’re going to drink your way to “Last call” with Tom as the two of you go looking for the heart of Saturday night.

It was my dear ol’ friend Pooh who turned me on to Tom Waits. Way back in the daze, he had a copy of ‘Small Change’ and we used to listen to it together while tipping the bottle. I eventually bought my own copy of ‘Small Change’ and a bunch of Tom’s other stuffs as well. As I wrote in another place, “Waits established himself as the greatest lyricist of all time from the years 1973 through 1982.” And I think his best song, lyrics-wise, is ‘San Diego Serenade’ which appears here on, what in my opinion is, the best Tomcat excursion into the seedy underbelly of the city. A great album by a guy who made more than one great album.

Song Sample: ‘New Coat Of Paint’

Don’t be turned off by the cheesy title and the cheesy cover art, this is easily one of the most beautiful albums in my collection! Featured herein are the bosses of Bossa Nova: Antonio Carlos Jobim, Stan Getz, Joao Gilberto, and Astrud Gilberto.

Saxophonist Stan Getz had the ideal touch and tone for the gorgeously romantic moods for Bossa Nova. Jobim is one of the all-time greatest composers of modern music. Astrud Gilberto – well, no argument – she had an untrained singing voice with an infinitesimal range. So what? If you’re a man, her voice will absolutely melt your cold, cold heart! Listen to ‘So Nice (Summer Samba)’, it is idealistic but put over with such charm, grace, and innocence by Astrud Gilberto that you will be completely caught up in her seductive lovedream.

Men, it’s been a long time since we’ve encountered true femininity, but it’s all right here in Astrud’s voice. Travel back to a bygone era of “real women”, “real men”, and “real romance”. Don’t wake me! I’m dreamin’ deep of true love.

Song Sample: ‘So Nice (Summer Samba)'

"I wanted to write joyful music that made other people feel good. Music that helps and heals, because I believe that music is God's Voice."
~ Brian Wilson

In trying to grasp how hard it was to pull off what Paul McCartney calls the "musical invention" contained in PET SOUNDS, it's important to know that studios were comparatively primitive in 1966. Brian had to figure out a way around the limitations of the machines. As one music industry observer noted, "the equipment in today's recording studios was primarily created so that they could make records now the way Brian Wilson was making them in 1966 without the technology. They've almost caught up."
~ David Leaf

If there is one person that I have to select as a living genius of pop music, I would choose Brian Wilson.
~ George Martin, The Beatles' Producer

T-shirts, cut-offs, and a pair of thongs
We’ve been having fun all Summer long
~ The Beach Boys

If you grew up in the L.A. area in the 1960s and 1970s, the music of the Beach Boys was as much a part of you as was your right arm. Or was it your left leg? Well, don’t hold me to and by the limb, but you get the general idea.

‘Endless Summer’ was released in the year of my “Best Summer” – 1974. My Pa had been laid off from work, and although we were pretty darn poor despite the fact that he had been working his butt off all of his life, he did the crazy thing and decided to “take the Summer off”.

Most of the days, my Pa would go to Santa Monica Beach with my brother Nappy and me (and sometimes our Sister, too). We would park for free in the lot at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium (where two years later I would attend my first Rock concert: Styx opening for Journey) and then we’d walk to the sand. We’d bodysurf for hours, then stroll to the Hot Dog-On-A-Stick stand, get one dog each and split a big cup of lemonade (because we couldn’t afford more than one). And then we’d walk back down to lifeguard station #26 and bodysurf for a few more hours.

I turned 15 in August of my most memorable Summer. I recall one time walking back to our car at the Civic Auditorium after a day of bodysurfing, and when my Pa turned the engine over, ‘Help Me, Rhonda’ was playing on the radio. Yeah, we were as poor as we’d ever be, but money wasn’t everything. Time spent with yer Pa is priceless.

I was a student at Santa Monica High School from 1974 to 1977. And while I was there, every single Friday pep rally ended with the playing of ‘Good Vibrations’ by the Beach Boys.

And then there was that little episode in a Reno lounge in 1986 involving myself and the Beach Boys song ‘In My Room’ – but I think I’ll save this sad story for the day I post a Blog Bit here about my all-time favorite saloons.

Well, this “Best Of” compilation hardly holds all of the great Beach Boys songs, but you start with ‘The Warmth Of The Sun’ – for me, that’s “must-have” number one - and Endless Summer does have that . . . and a whole lot of other great memories. Surf’s up, dudes!

Song Sample: ‘The Warmth Of The Sun’

Ironically, I’m not a big fan of the movie ‘Breakfast At Tiffany’s’, but the soundtrack is one of the most often played albums in my collection.

Henry Mancini is a musical genius. The longest cut on this soundtrack is a mere 3:18, but the compositions swing fiercely. And although you know that each musical piece was structured, every note was scripted, the instrumentalists are so loose, jivey and jammin’ that the tracks leave the listener with the impression that most of them are six to seven minutes long and loaded with Jazz improvisation. This is pure magic and the musicianship is A-List and beyond.

It is almost criminal that the album does not name all of the musicians and singers individually. The credits simply read: “Henry Mancini and his Orchestra and Chorus.” But in my opinion, these musicians could have gone toe-to-toe and trumpet-to-trumpet with the Basie and Ellington orchestras and not surrendered an inch of ground. Listen to ‘Loose Caboose’. Had that been recorded by the great Count Basie, Jazz journalists would STILL be writing about it! It explodes out of the speakers and packs seven minutes of music into its three minutes and eight seconds.

This album contains the classic song ‘Moon River’, as well as the playfulness of the striptease number humorously titled ‘Hub Caps And Tail Lights’ and the big blow out titled ‘The Big Blow Out’. But best of all, it contains three musical pieces – ‘Sally’s Tomato’, ‘Breakfast At Tiffany’s’, and ‘Holly’ – which evoke in me a feeling which C.S. Lewis calls “joy” but which I refer to as “Goldenshadow”. But more on this feeling in a future Blog Bit.

Someday I’ll throw the big Sake Party I’ve been talking about since probably 1981, and when I do, you will ALL be invited. The festivities will officially open and close with ‘Mr. Yunioshi’, the fourth cut on this fantastic soundtrack.

Song Sample: ‘Loose Caboose’
BOB DYLAN / 1965

And if my thought-dreams could be seen
They’d probably put my head in a guillotine
But it’s alright, Ma, it’s life, and life only
~ Bob Dylan
[from his song ‘It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)’]

“It was all going by so fast, too, that I managed to get free at a time when I was as surprised as anyone else was. So, it was like I was doing one thing and this would lead me into another thing so fast that the old thing hadn’t even got a chance to be even digested yet, ya know? And it all happened real quick and all of a sudden I was doing things that no one had ever done before – and I knew it! When we were doing those albums, I knew that no one had ever done those kinds of things before and it was too much to even comprehend. You know, I couldn’t handle it, actually.”
“When we recorded ‘Bringing It All Back Home’ it was like a breakthrough point.”
~ Bob Dylan [from 1981 radio interviews.]

“Nobody’d heard anything like this before. No one had heard… anything… LIKE this before.”
~ Bobby Neuwirth

When Bob Dylan went (half) electric on this truly revolutionary album that rewrote the songwriting rulebook, it totally shocked and shook the pop music world. Very little pop music has been produced since its release in 1965 that hasn’t in one way or another been influenced by it. It has even been said that the first track, ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’, is a kind of prototype of Rap music. I have called the album “The best writing course I ever took”. Here’s how it happened:

In my late teens and early twenties, I owned about eight Bob Dylan albums, yet ironically, I never particularly thought of myself as a Dylan fan. ‘Bringing It All Back Home’ (BIABH) was the Dylan record I had played the most, but by my mid-twenties I had sold off most of my record collection and was transitioning to compact discs. I never replaced ‘BIABH’.

I had not heard the album in 25 years, but in February of 2008, something reminded me of it. All I could recall of it was the line, “The pump don’t work ’cause the vandals took the handles”. So I borrowed a copy of BIABH from my buddy, DiscConnected (he of the 12,847 CDs and counting), and I listened to it one Saturday. I was knocked down, knocked out, and blown away! It was one of the strangest sensations I’ve ever experienced in my life.

As I was listening to each song, the lyrics and melodies began coming back to me and after hearing just two-thirds of the album, I had found so much of myself in it that I came to realize that all those years earlier when I played it on a fairly regular basis, I had been subconsciously learning from it. My mind had been absorbing the patterns in that album’s structure, I had been learning how to expand the mind allowing for the inflow of creative ideas, I had been learing how to manipulate words and develop an ability for wordplay. In short, ‘Bringing It All Back Home’ was like LSD to me, but I had never even realized I was under the influence of a musical drug.

Looking back at it now, I think I can honestly say that I have probably not written so much as a single page – maybe not even a single paragraph – in the last 25 years that wasn’t somehow influenced by Bob Dylan’s Classic of classics. It took a quarter of a century – and only then by accident – for me to learn what BIABH had done for me as a writer and a creative thinker!

In a very recent Email to a friend, I was telling her about this wild sorta stream of consciousness letter I wrote to a girl I was romantically interested in back in June of 1983. I told her:
It’s one of my all-time favorite things I have ever written, solely because of how “free” I felt at that moment – free to write anything that popped into my head. I just let my personality loose and it pee’d on EVERYTHING! Ha! And because the letter was so off-the-wall stream of consciousness, at one point, I wrote, “If I didn’t know better, I’d say that I was Bob Dylan.” At the letter’s conclusion, I signed it “—Bob Dylan”.
I seriously doubt I would have ever been able to write a letter like that had I not already spent a few years listening to ‘Bringing It All Back Home’. This album's influence on me is inestimable.

Song Sample: ‘Subterranean Homesick Blues’

Mahalia is mythic…her voice transcends itself. … Her technique is surely astonishing, but it is her emotional directness – her eagerness to give all she’s got, to infuse her song with so much of herself until ever melody is somehow Mahaliaized – that insures her immortality.
~ David Ritz

To that I will add that her vocal range was amazing, and at times – particularly in the live version of ‘How I Got Over’ – I think she almost stepped aside and gave her voice over to The Holy Spirit to use. She absolutely makes mush of the weenie, whiny, wimpy stuffs that passes for “Christian music” today! Do I loves me some Mahalia? Hael Yeah! (Uhm… sorry ‘bout that, but you know I cain’t control myself.) All hail the power and the majesty of Mahalia Jackson, the appropriately nicknamed “Queen Of Gospel”.

Very shortly after my 1994 “Come to Jesus meeting” with… well… with Jesus… I discovered the great Mahalia Jackson, who shook my rafters and rocked my world. I think she was the greatest singer ever and her 1961 live recording of ‘How I Got Over’ is the most remarkable vocal performance of all time. It makes the hair on my back stand up. Ha! I’m only kidding; I don’t have hair on my back! But it does make the hair on the back of my neck stand up. Mahalia’s voice can shiver ‘n’ chill me. About once every 12 to 18 months, I will go on a Mahalia kick during which, for two or three weeks consecutively, I feel compelled to play nothing but Mahalia as loudly as possible.

It pains me to leave for this island without Mahalia’s recordings of ‘Elijah Rock’, ‘Keep Your Hand On The Plow’, and a few other essential titles I could name, but that’s all a part of the necessary “Desert Island Jalapeno Burn”, isn’t it?

And as if the music on this disc were not enough, I also get to retain the CD’s booklet containing the best album liner notes I’ve ever read, penned by David Ritz in 1996 – excerpts of which I posted on my very lengthy 2008 Blog Bit about “The Queen Of Gospel”.

Song Sample: ‘How I Got Over’

How could I not love a group that sang ‘The Declaration Of Independence’ ?
Addressing the medley ‘The Declaration / A Change Is Gonna Come / People Gotta Be Free’, the album’s liner notes say this:

Both sides charted, neither very well, since pop radio was afraid to play a song which endorsed overthrowing the government (as stated in the document itself). … Though the Armed Services banned the record outright, college radio embraced it, giving the group significant underground airplay. The 5th [Dimension] boldly performed the controversial song before a White House-sponsored Governors’ dinner, where at its conclusion, there was an uncomfortably silent pause. The awkward moment ended when President Nixon himself began to clap. Naturally, his endorsement prompted the gathering to applaud. Ironically, the State Department sent the group behind the Iron Curtain three years later, making them the first African-American band to perform there.

Ha!-Ha! Ya gotta love that! But that wasn’t the first first for The 5th Dimension. In fact, years earlier, member Ron Townson had become the first African-American dramatic tenor ever accepted into the New York Metropolitan Opera.

I have always had a fondness for choral groups, and for my money, the Beach Boys and the 5th Dimension were the best. Think the Mamas And The Papas only with better voices and a whole lot more soul!

I can still recall singing their hit ‘Up-Up And Away’ in Boys’ Chorus at school in the very early 1970s, and their version of that tune is another song which evokes that “Goldenshadow” feeling in me. [To be written about in a future Blog Bit.] If we were doing a “Top 15 Songs” list, ‘Up-Up And Away’ would be on mine.

This 2-disc set gives you all of their hits and a lot of lesser known songs that are just as good and often better than the hits. Of course, it includes all of their fabulous versions of the Laura Nyro songs like ‘Stoned Soul Picnic’, ‘Sweet Blindness’, ‘Wedding Bell Blues’, ‘Save The Country’, ‘Time And Love’ and ‘Black Patch’. And yes, the set also includes the now terribly dated and silly sounding ‘Aquarius’. But let’s face it, that was pretty much the anthem of that “Far Out” embarrassing hippie generation, and it sure does roll out the memories for those of us who had to live through it.

Song Sample: ‘Up-Up And Away’
SINGLES 1969 – 1981

Because of their commercial, square, and squeaky clean image, by the time I was in high school, you couldn’t find a single teenager who would admit to liking The Carpenters. I mean it was really funny, the brother and sister duo were still selling millions upon millions of records and yet there was not one person out there who would say, “I like ‘em”. You gotta wonder who was buying all those records.

Well, I never stopped liking The Carpenters, and if asked, I would have admitted it, but I didn’t yet have the personal courage to actually go around advertising this fact. So I kept quiet . . . and listened.

In 2001, I had a spiritual experience in which Jesus answered for me, in a rather startling way, a very deep and troubling question. Shortly thereafter, I came to associate The Carpenter’s song ‘We’ve Only Just Begun’ with that experience. Below is an excerpt from a review I wrote in 2004 about a Bobby Darin recording, in which I also address that strange quality in Karen Carpenter’s voice:

It strikes me that the individual human response to music is one of life's most intriguing mysteries. What is that unexplainable thing inside us that resonates to a certain combination of musical notes, or to the tonal quality of particular instruments, but not others? And why is this response not universal?
Some might think that this is comparable to our myriad responses to food flavors, but in that example there is a physiological explanation - something to do with chemical reactions in the glands, the taste buds. With music it's entirely intangible; some "it" within the inner being responds, “it” makes the body move, the toes tap, the mind rejoice . . . or mourn.
There is a certain something, a quality, in Darin's voice that can be discerned on his ballads; an innate melancholia that can't be taught nor faked. I have found this in the voices of only two other singers: the Jazz vocalist Astrud Gilberto, and Karen Carpenter, who had it in spades! In fact, so much so that it sometimes bled through even on her uptempo numbers like TOP OF THE WORLD and SING. It's a kind of faint whisper of an intense inner aloneness, or a vague remembrance of something; a wistful yearning for what has passed and can't be retrieved, like a dream of something that glowed golden way back when, in the recesses of the mind.

It is this quality in Karen’s voice that makes her my all-time favorite singer, even though, truthfully, Mahalia Jackson was the greatest.

But lest someone think The Carpenter’s was all about Karen, let’s not forget that Richard Carpenter has been called a genius arranger, and in fact, no less a musician than Pat Metheny has publicly stated that he greatly admires the writing and arranging of Richard Carpenter. And, few people realize that it was Richard Carpenter who actually invented a new facet in pop music: the Power Ballad. The following comes from the liner notes to the Carpenters' album ‘Singles 1969-1981’, penned by Paul Grein:
Richard's arrangement for "GOODBYE TO LOVE" is among his most inventive and influential. He envisioned the lament as a genre-bending tour-de-force, complete with a head-turning fuzz-guitar solo. In bringing his vision to life, Richard created not only a worldwide Top 10 hit, but a new style: the "power lead" guitar solo in a ballad context. Richard brought in a talented young guitarist, Tony Peluso, and asked him to play the melody for five bars - and then improvise. Richard's instincts told him that somethig magical would result. He was right. The long fade-out, complete with guitar, vocals and organ, has a majestic quality - making ‘GOODBYE TO LOVE’ the ‘Hey Jude’ of unrequited love songs. The ballad, one of Karen's favorites, was the first Carpenter/Bettis composition to be released as a single. With its long, breath-deprived phrases, this was one of Karen's most challenging vocal assignments, but she handled it with ease.
"Goodbye To Love" went to #7 in 1972.

A decade ago, I was in a Phoenix bar where this young, Stevie Ray Vaughn wannabe was performing on the stage. At one point between songs, he started poking fun at The Carpenters and even sang a short portion of one of their songs, changing the lyrics to include references to puking. My first impulse was to walk up on that stage and wrap his Fender guitar around his neck. But being the spiritually enlightened, nonviolent guy I am, I simply walked out on him instead. And I’ve spent the last ten years of my life regretting that I didn’t follow my first impulse.

Song Sample: ‘We’ve Only Just Begun’
ROCK ON: 1970

Because I had the foresight to pack this compilation album, I’m going to have a variety of good Rock/Pop songs on my island. For one thing, this album includes the Blues hit ‘The Thrill Is Gone’, featuring B.B. King’s manly vocals and an orgasmic guitar solo – one of the best in the history of electric Blues. I also get ‘Green-Eyed Lady’, the Hammond B-3 organ workout by the two-hit wonder Sugarloaf. I get the sappy Ray Stevens hit ‘Everything Is Beautiful’ which begins with a group of children singing ‘Jesus Loves The Little Children’, a song that I myself was taught and sang “when I was a child”. ‘Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head’ was one of my brother Napoleon’s favorite songs in 1970. The weird ‘Mama Told Me Not To Come’ is by Three Dog Night, the favorite band of the former Los Angeles Dodger centerfielder Willie “Three Dog” Davis.

I get ‘He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother’ by the Hollies, a song which, if it catches me in a totally inexcusable and embarrassingly weak moment when I happen to be feeling (gasp!) love for all of the nearly 7 billion Brothers and Sisters God has given me in this world, it can actually produce tears in my eyes. (Of course, hereafter, I will deny that I ever said this.)

But most importantly, I get Norman Greenbaum’s ‘Spirit In The Sky’, with its totally fuzzed-out, distorted-up-the-Wahzoo, addictive as all get-out, blown a fuse electric guitar trumpet-in-your-ear-on-Easter-morning McFunkshunoleo Passamaquoddyism.
I have no idea what that means but it’s a description that presented itself to my mind while listening to ‘Spirit In The Sky’ for the 7 billionth time last Saturday. ‘Spirit In The Sky’ became my favorite Rock song when I first heard it in 1970 and it’s my favorite Rock song today in 2010. I have left instructions for this song to be played loudly at my wake after my number has been called. ROCK ON, Norman Greenbaum!

Song Sample: ‘Spirit In The Sky'

Roses are red and violets are purple
Sugar is sweet and so is maple syrple
And I’m the seventh out of seven sons
My pappy was a pistol
I'm a son of a gun.

~ Roger Miller
[from his song ‘Dang Me’]

For this one, I went back to my roots. It’s quite likely that this is the first music album I ever heard. When I was growing up, my Pa routinely played three albums in the house: this one, and ‘The Call Of The Wildest’ and ‘The Wildest Show At Tahoe’, both by Louis Prima. But I think Roger Miller’s ‘Golden Hits’ got played more than any other.

At times, Pa would wake up ‘We Three Kids’ for school by suddenly blasting the song ‘You Can’t Roller Skate In A Buffalo Herd’. Yup. Many’s the time that song was my “alarm clock”, yanking me out of a sound sleep and alerting me that it was time to get ready to go to school.

Look folks, you can’t wake a kid up in the morning with a song like that and then expect that he is going to turn out “normal”. Uh-uh. Sorry, but it just ain’t gonna happen. So, if any of you have ever asked yourself: Gee, what’s wrong with that guy Stephen? Well, now you know. ‘You Can’t Roller Skate In A Buffalo Herd’ is what’s wrong with me.

Today, that’s not even my favorite song on the record. That honor would probably go to ‘Dang Me’ or ‘Kansas City Star’. But ‘Buffalo Herd’ is a sentimental favorite amongst sentimental favorites. I still love this album and play it semi-regularly, but ALWAYS on my Pa’s birthday. (May he rest in peace.)

The goofiness and the humor of these songs undoubtedly had a hand in forming my own zany sense of humor. In fact, I was engaged in an internet political debate with a woman once when she said to me, “By the way, your writing style is derivative, jingositic [sic] and tedious”.

Jingoistic? Definitely not. (She probably didn’t even know what the word meant.) Tedious? That’s not for me but for my readers to decide. Derivative? Hmmm… Maybe. But unless she specifically had in mind Mark Twain, John Steinbeck, Bob Dylan’s ‘Bringing It All Back Home’ and the ‘Golden Hits’ of Roger Miller, then she didn’t know what the hell she was talking about!

It was important that I include a few albums suitable for listening to at the Fantasy Island watering hole, and Roger Miller’s ‘Golden Hits’ - along with Waylon, Waits, the Beach Boys and Bossa Nova - is ideal. For you see, I’ll be spending the rest of my life at ‘The Big Yellow Cabana Bar’, drinking daiquiris and reading ‘Winnie-The-Pooh’ and ‘The House At Pooh Corner’ while being pampered by beautiful, brown-skinned native women who will be at least half naked all of the time. Ya know, I might be able to get used to this island life.

Song Sample: ‘You Can’t Roller Skate In A Buffalo Herd’

Well, I’m on my way now to ‘The Big Yellow Cabana Bar’ where the slogan is: ‘Never drink to forget and never forget to drink.’

“Yo! Barmaid! Another round of daiquiris here, for me and my island gals!”
“Hey, baby, what’s your sign? Aquarius? Groovy!
It just so happens that I brought a song for you…”

Ukulelely Yours . . .

~ Stephen T. McCarthy

Postscript: Although it may take me a few days to get ‘er done, it is my intention to eventually read the list of every single participant in the ‘Fifteen Fantasy Island Favorites’ festival. Also, on Thursday I hope to be posting on this blog the lists of a few of my non-blogging friends. They’re all cool ‘n’ bright individuals, so their lists should be very interesting. I hope y’all will return here to check ‘em out. Thanks!

Link: “Highway Zimmerman Revisited”

YE OLDE COMMENT POLICY: All comments, pro and con, are welcome. However, ad hominem attacks and disrespectful epithets will not be tolerated (read: "posted"). After all, this isn’t, so I don’t have to put up with that kind of bovine excrement.