Debate: Desert Island Albums

By Jake and Glenn 

Ever since the invention of the victrola, man has found himself in a serious hypothetical conundrum: what albums would you want if you were stranded on an island? What makes this scenario the host of some of the greatest debates of our time, including the Lincoln/Douglas debates, is how varying musical taste is and the strong personal opinions on the subject. The real question is: is this scenario a sound hypothetical or merely a load of hogwash?

Jake: “Desert island albums” is a debate in itself, and it is one very close to my heart. I often visualize myself on a desert island. While I lean against a cactus, I picture myself sitting in silence, my tinnitus ringing in my ears like the Timex’s podcast, wishing I had something, anything to silence it. Then I visualize myself in a CD store in the mid-90s, back when they still existed, or browsing iTunes. This is when I usually fall asleep. The “desert island albums” debate is very real to me and brings me great comfort in my darkest hours. It is perfect for meditation, a worthwhile argument in a bar or a laughable discussion with your 15-year-old cousin who listens to Blink 182. In other words, choosing the albums you would want to have on a desert island is great.

Glenn: This is a waste of our reader’s valuable time. Most of them get one hour a day on the prison computers to check their email, TMZ, sports scores and this website. They don’t come here to hear about desert island albums, an absurd hypothetical if there ever was one. These prisoners are on their own desert islands and do not want musical albums. They want cigarettes! Or their freedom. These are the two things I would want on a desert island, not a copy of Michael Jackson’s hit album Off The Wall. Let’s debate about what albums we want to take with us to our first boy-girl party or the song we want playing while we slowly bleed to death after a car accident. No more desert or dessert islands.

Jake: I have not seen such an attempt at derailment since I watched “Die Hard With a Vengeance” three weeks ago. We are not even debating what albums we would like to have on a desert island, but rather if the hypothetical scenario is even valid or worthwhile. Obviously, you have yet again chosen the opposing side to my opinion. I sincerely wish, just one time, that we could agree in one of these debates. The desert island hypothetical is not just a scenario to deliberate, but it is a metaphor of our own isolation and the songs that run through our heads, blocking enlightenment, when we attempt meditation.

Glenn: I don’t need metaphors of isolation. I experience the real thing every day! There are three CDs that sit locked inside my safe - Bringing It All Back Home by Bob Dylan, Adore by the Smashing Pumpkins, and the Tears for Fears Greatest Hits album. I bring this safe with me every time I fly on the off chance that I end up crashed on a desert island like in the famous movie Castaway. My safe also has a flare gun and my Talkboy, which I would use for “human interaction” the way Tom Hanks talks to that volleyball. But this is a ridiculous debate because no plane has ever really crashed and my safe would sink to the bottom of the ocean. The answer to this debate is easy: if I ended up on a desert island I would hang myself just like Tom Hanks almost did in Castaway. No albums involved.

Jake: Not having albums on a desert island is like not having a urine-to-water converter in “Waterworld.” It is the thing that you would want the most when you are put into that situation. That is the beauty of the “desert island album” discussion; not only does it force you to choose a limited number of albums (5,10, or any other interval of five), but it puts you in the one place you would long for music the most. Picture yourself on a desert island, the sand blowing against your face, the sun beating down on you like L.A. law enforcement officers, the only sounds you can hear is the harsh, sand-infused wind and the scuttling of scorpions. You would be so bored! Music is one of the best ways to kill boredom, and this is why this debate has been a classic ever since music was invented by a neanderthal whacking some rocks with a stick. This debate will remain a classic until the inevitable nuclear holocaust.

Glenn: Finally we agree on one thing: the inevitable nuclear holocaust. Given how precious our time is left on this terrible planet, I want to enjoy it by experiencing the most carnal desires available to me: copulation, virtual reality simulation and eating Skittles. I refuse to spend any of our time left before the US government’s default next week debating what number of albums (7, 11, 13 or any other prime) to take with me to Greenland. Greenland is the best place to go to escape the inevitable Chinese invasion of America after our default and they don’t allow any music there. Maybe it’s their Danish heritage - I’m not sure. The point is that this is no place to be debating whether or not you want Use Your Illusion I or II with you on a desert island. This is the place where we should be trading our unconstitutional US currency for basic survival elements, like Skittles!


  1. The third paragraph is one of the funniest things on OYIT! Both sides are fantastic!!

  2. I think my Die Hard 3 reference may be a bit obscure. I hope people "got" it.