Tag Archives: Loreena McKennitt

Music To My Ears

A few days ago I posted a list of items that I’d save if given the chance should my house be on fire (see The Burning House Project). The particular post was inspired by a tweet that my friend Rob had posted during the Ontario provincial election. Later on, Rob commented on the post with his own list of items that he would save. The first item on his list of things to save was his collection of favorite albums. Specifically, he stated

If this list was a ‘desert island’ music pick – these would be it.

And as a typical response to anything Rob does, I started thinking. Specifically, if I were on a deserted island which albums would I want to bring with me? Which albums do I think I’d be able to listen to for a lifetime without ever getting bored with them? While the questions themselves are not new, and the idea of a ‘desert island’ list is clearly old hat, it’s one that I hadn’t really thought much about. Until now.

As with most people, I can list a bunch of albums that I like, and some that I love, but listing a collection of albums that I’d never get tired of should I be required to listen to them for the remainder of my years – that’s tough. I mean, there are a lot of albums out there; where does one start? What makes a good album? Is it the lyrical content? Is it the musicality? Is it the statement? Or is it simply that I want to dance in my chair when I hear the album? How does one classify art?

Clearly, a set of rules to govern my list selection was in order. The thought being that a set of rules would help limit the list of potential albums that could make it to my ‘desert island’ collection. I first thought to trim the collection by imposing a time constraint. Specifically, the albums had to be released during or after 1975 – hence, in my life time. Further, I could only pick one album per artist – no doubling up (and that wasn’t easy). I also excluded movie soundtracks, rap, and country. Excluding rap and country was easy, as there is no way they would have made my list regardless. Soundtracks could have made the list, but I opted for non instrumental-only albums. Next, I decided I’d allow myself 10 albums, plus one additional 10 song mixed album which could include any song from any time (for 11 in total). The mixed album would be a repository of one-off songs that I absolutely love for one reason or another. Finally, I would count a multi-disk album as a single selection on my list.

So with my list of rules in hand, I sat down and thought about my list. And dear readers, without further ado, I offer to you my desert list in no particular order. Note that I tried to select a range of music to satisfy whatever mood I might be in while on a deserted island. I assumed those moods would be think-y, day-dream-y, hungry, mosh-pit-ydance-y, or sexy-time-y. Those are all moods, right?


  1. Adele – 21
  2. Tori AmosLittle Earthquakes
  3. Loreena McKennitt – The Visit
  4. Sarah McLachlan – Solace
  5. Pearl Jam – Ten
  6. Tragically Hip – Yer Favourites
  7. Florence and the Machine – Lungs
  8. Guns ‘N Roses – Appetite for Destruction
  9. Nirvana – Unplugged In New York
  10. Joni Mitchell – Hits
  11. Madonna – The Immaculate Collection

Album of One-offs

  1. Dee-LiteGroove Is In The Heart
  2. Michael Franti & SpearheadSay Hey (I love you)
  3. Third Eye Blind – Semi Charmed Life
  4. Sir Mix-a-Lot – I Like Big Butts
  5. K.D. Lang – Hallelujah
  6. Annie Lennox – Into The West
  7. Israel Kamakawiwo’ole – Somewhere Over The Rainbow
  8. Peter Gabriel – Solsbury Hill
  9. Simon and Garfunkel – The Boxer
  10. Nina Simone – Sinner Man

I have to say, picking Groove is in the Heart was the easiest selection for my one-offs. That song is my happy song. Every time I hear it, I can picture myself and a certain group of friends dancing our collective faces and butts off. It is absolutely awesome because it always, always, always makes me smile.

So there you have it folks. My list of music. Of course, I’m sure I’ve forgotten some rather epic albums, so I reserve the right to modify this list as I see fit. And who knows, the best album that ever existed may not yet exist. I have to be allowed the ability to add that to my list.

What albums would you have included?

A Wintry Junk Punch Triggers A List

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I spent Tuesday and Wednesday in Ottawa for a presentation with several Public Health Agency of Canada big-Whigs.  And as I mentioned, the presentation was a grand success1.

On our flight back to the Toronto area, Victoria and I were shocked by the sudden return of winter.  Ottawa, while chilly, did not get the snow that Toronto and area received.  The weather forced us to circle the airport for about 45 minutes prior to landing.  There was zero visibility.  Well, I could see something, but all that I could see was white.  To be perfectly honest, I just assumed we were still in the clouds.  And then as if out of nowhere, the ground appeared.  It honestly scared the shit out of me.  My first thought was “Holy shit, that’s the ground!  Is the pilot aware of this?”  My mind raced with visions of a fiery wreckage as we slammed into the ground.  Thankfully, and obviously, that was not to be my fate.  We landed ever so gently and safely and made our way to Terminal 1.

Anyway, as everyone in the Greater Toronto Area is aware winter decided to junk-punch us once again.  It might be spring, but Old-man Winter is still in charge, and not going out without a fight.  The drive home was long and brutal.  I really have to give credit to Victoria for not losing it, as I would have wanted to punch a baby seal given the lunacy of other drivers, and the terrible conditions of the roads.

We kept ourselves entertained on the 2.5-3.0hr drive home by listening to the radio, chatting, and commenting on drivers, vanity license plates, and plates that looked like they could be of the vanity variety, but were likely not.  For example, one such plate read

BDAN 392,

which I remember because 3^{2}=9, and because who doesn’t want to B Dan? HA!  Clearly this could be a vanity license plate for myself, given my love of math and such.

During our very slow crawl home, some radio personality on the CBC (I forget who) queried the listeners regarding their favourite book.  This got me thinking; what is my favourite book?  Victoria and I discussed this and I realized that I don’t think I can pick one particular book above all others.  I have favourite math-y books, stat-y books, brain candy books, kids books, etc.  There are just so many epic books out there that have influenced me in some way that I can’t hold one above all others as the book to rule all books.

However, I can offer the following list of my favourite books.

  1. I Know This Much Is True, by Wally Lamb.  This book is incredibly beautiful.  I was absolutely devastated when the book ended.  Not because it has a devastating ending, but because it had to end.
  2. She’s Come Undone, by Wally Lamb.  Heartbreaking.  Uplifting.  Everything.
  3. Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad.  I’ve read this book several times and every time I get something new out of it.  Dark, beautiful, challenging.
  4. The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne.  Some people find this book rather dry, but I absolutely loved it, and still love it on every read.
  5. Young Goodman Brown, by Nathaniel Hawthorne.  A short story, but once read was immediately added to my list of favourites.
  6. A Widow For One Year, by John Irving.
  7. A Million Little Pieces, by James Frey.  I didn’t care about the controversy surrounding this book.  It was breathless and frantic, difficult to read at times, and completely in my face.  I loved it.
  8. The Highwayman, by Alfred Noyes.  An epic poem, beautifully interpreted by Loreena McKennitt.
  9. Oh the Places You’ll Go, by Dr. Seuss.  This book just makes me happy, and optimistic.  I love to read this whenever I feel not-so-awesome.
  10. Guess How Much I Love You, by Sam McBratney.  This book is sweet, and beautiful, and a great gift for anyone with kids.  Little Nutbrown Hare is so freaking cute.
  11. Love You Forever, by Robert Munsch.  Another great gift for anyone with children.
  12. The Lord Of the Rings Trilogy (and The Hobbit), J.R.R. Tolkien.  Dragons, ogres, elves; what’s not to love?
  13. The Harry Potter series, by J.K. Rowling.  Magic, wizards, witches, adventure.  Awesome does not begin to describe this series.
  14. Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak.  My first love.  Seriously.

The last book on the list, Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are, I’ve previously discussed in detail on Dr. Beth’s blog (as a guest-blogger).  Check it out and you’ll know why I think this book is so incredible, and what it really means to me.  As a follow-up to reading that, let me add that I was not disappointed by the movie.  I loved, loved, loved the movie, and I was instantly 7 years old again.

The other books listed above, for one reason or another, spoke to me at the time I read them.  They offered something that I clearly needed to know, or questioned my world view.  In some cases, they provided me an outlet, a voice, or an escape.  Regardless, they are and always will be special to me.  And while I’m sure there are other books that I should probably add to this list, these are the ones that immediately come to mind.  You may not agree with my list, but that’s okay, because this is my list.

Anyway, I leave you with this question: what are your favourite books, and why?

1 Clearly, that’s my opinion.  I have no idea what the big-Whigs really thought, but I’m sure they thought we were awesome; it is the natural reaction.