Monday, February 22, 2010

CDs for a Desert Island... or a Blizzard

A few days ago, I finally caught up with my dear friend Sandy, who lives in a suburb of Washington, DC (or maybe it is Baltimore, Maryland... it is almost exactly in the middle of the two).  Anyway, in the time between then and our previous catch up phone session (she HATES email, and we are both too catty with tone and inflection to leave anything up to mere words on a screen) her area was snow storm central, with two blizzards back to back dumping nearly 60 inches over her area.  Fortunately, she was well-prepared with plenty of the good stuff - homemade soup, baking items, chocolate and her iPod.  Unfortunately, she was without both cable and internet service for more than three days.  She is still cursing herself over "bundling."  But at least she never lost power.  Long story short, after running out of books to read and DVDs to watch (she is also cursing herself for not buying more DVDs rather than going to RedBox), she had to rely on her iPod for entertainment and sanity.

Sandy has never been one for whole albums of songs - she likes to pick individual songs because, "I never have to swear allegiance to one group or singer."  So it surprised me when she admitted that in addition to her famously ecclectic singles collection, she also has a few complete albums on her iPod.  (Let me just interject here and say that I don't have an iPod or anything like it.  I enjoy my CD collection, and when it comes to that, I don't really care how environmentally irresponsible it is.)  Anyway, among her small collection of complete albums is The Singles by the Carpenters, Thriller by Michael Jackson, Tapestry by Carole King, ABBA Gold by ABBA, and Linda Ronstadt's Greatest Hits, Volumes I and II by Linda Ronstadt.  I guess you can tell how old we are... I have three of those on vinyl, cassette tape and compact disc!  I had to laugh, which of course, got her dander up.  She, of course, reminded me that had been in that situation and the power had gone out besides, I'd have had NOTHING to keep me company!

So I got to thinking... if I were to bite the bullet and get an iPod or an MP3 or whatever the latest thing will be when I finally cave in, what albums what I absolutely have to have?  If I were on a deserted island or trapped in my little mountainside home for days after a blizzard, which albums could I simply not survive without.  Knowing that space is limited, I chose 10 Broadway Cast Recordings for my iPod.  These are 10 that in actuality I do play frequently, and actually have thought, "there isn't a single song on this whole CD that I don't like!"  And for the record - no pun intended - while there is some overlap, these are not also my 10 favorite shows of all time.

Since I hold them all in such high esteem, I will present them in alphabetical order, with my favorite songs listed, too.  When you are done, please drop me an email and let me know which Cast Recordings would be on your "stuck on a desert island/snowed in for days" list of must haves.  It would be cool to share your thoughts.

1.  Applause - I love the whole CD, but, I love to sing along to "One of a Kind" (all parts), "One Halloween," and relish the fact that I can sing "Welcome to the Theater" better than Bacall in quality, but certainly not in acting.

2.  Chess - I love all versions of this show, but since I can only keep one on my iPod, I guess I'd go with the recent concert version.  It has all my favorites, plus great songs from the London concept album, plus new songs for the eventual revival.  I love "Where I Want to Be," "One Night in Bangkok," and by far, "Someone Else's Story."

3.  Chicago - Had they recorded Sandy Duncan as Roxie and Ruthie Henschall as Velma in the revival, that would be the version.  But they didn't, so it is a no-brainer - the Original Cast with Gwen, Chita and Jerry.  The orchestrations are amazing, so I love the overture, plus "All That Jazz" and "Class."

4.  Chorus Line, A - The Original Cast Recording, but the CD that was re-issued and restored with longer "Hello, Twelve..." sequences, and "And."  My favorites are "At the Ballet," the non-finale version of "One," and "Nothing."

5.  Grand Hotel: The Musical - as enthralling on CD as it was in the theatre!  What performances!  What orchestrations!  I love the entire opening sequence, "(I Want to Go to) Hollywood," "What You Need," and the Life/Death Tango.  Favorite back ground vocals: the operators singing "Grand Hotel, at your service... Grand Hotel, I am ringing..."  LOVE IT!!!

6.  next to normal - If you follow my blog, you knew I had to include this, and you know why.  "Superboy and the Invisible Girl," "My Psychopharmacologist and I," any version of "Hey," and "Light."

7.  Pippin - The best score Stephen Schwartz has written. Period.  (Save your time Wicked lovers...)  "Magic to Do," "Corner of the Sky,"  "Simple Joys."  And that is just the first three tracks!

8.  Promises, Promises - How can you not love a vocal arrangement that is crafted like an orchestration - the sporano women!!!  "Promises, Promises" is less than three minutes of heaven.  I want this played at my funeral.  And "Turkey Lurkey Time"  my God, dumb lyrics that are made to sound brilliant....

9.  Spring Awakening  -  Also at my funeral, "Song of Purple Summer."  Why? Because people will stop mourning because they are trying so hard to figure out what the words mean.  Then there's "The Bitch of Living, " and "Totally Fucked."  The soundtrack of my life... LOL

10.  West Side Story - If could have the sound quality of the cirrent revival recording matched with the Original Cast Recording, I would be thrilled to be snowed in for days.  But I wll settle for the original.  No one beats Chita, Larry or Carol.  No one.

Even I am surprised that there are no Angela recordings on this list... if I could pick 15 albums, she'd be on two of the reamining five... oh, what the heck. 

I'd add, if I could: Company, Mame, Side Show, Sweeney Todd and Sweet Charity.

What would your list be?  Please share!

Leave a comment here or email me at


  1. Les Miserables would be on my list. I saw a touring production when I lived in Syracuse years ago and fell in love with it. Les Miserables is also one of those cast recordings that you can listen to and basically "get" the entire story.

  2. Oooh, good question. Some of my choices are the same as yours. Chess (most recent version), Next to Normal, and Pippin, but I want Wicked too. In the Heights, Rent, Les Miserables (in English et en francais). Oh and The Who's Tommy. Gypsy. Into the Woods, maybe. Or Company, possibly.
    There are a bunch of musicals where I really enjoy the score/songs within the context of the show but rarely have the desire to listen to the cast recording outside of the show. This would include Chicago, Ave Q, and Hair, for example.
    Yesterday I saw a small production of Caroline, or Change (in Brooklyn). I'd never seen it before or heard any of the music. It was wonderful- very well acted, thought provoking, and the music was great too IMO. Not sure yet if I'll be downloading the OBC recording though (I'm assuming there is one to download). On Saturday night I saw ITH again, and it's still pretty much my favorite thing in the world. I was impressed by the new additions (the new Sonny and Bleusnavi) to the cast and thrilled to see Janet Dacal back in the show. It was a little strange to me to see her playing a role other than Carla (and without those crazy curls), but her Nina is great. It was wonderful really getting to hear her sing more than a few lines on her own. She has a beautiful voice.


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