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Top 10 Stranded on a Desert Island Songs

Updated on December 28, 2012

If you were stranded on a deserted island and you could only choose ten songs...

It's a perennial favorite question on discussion boards and during get-to-know-you exercises: if you knew you were going to be stranded on a desert island and could choose only ten songs to which you could listen, which would you pick? If you're a music fanatic who listens all day long this question may give you hives. But once I'd recovered from the horror of the idea I thought I'd re-frame the question and actually answer it. Let's try it this way:

If you will be stranded on a desert island for a month, which ten songs would you bring?

You see, this isn't necessarily a question of your favorite songs. It's the songs that you love but that wouldn't make you crazy if you heard them every day, over and over. I'll share my list of ten desert island songs with you and give you a place to vote for your favorite and to add your own songs and whether you agree with my take on it or not. Naturally, I'll include a video for each song as well.

Three Little Birds - Bob Marley - The Easiest Pick of the Top Ten

When I think of being stranded, I think of loneliness, fear (mostly of starving to death or dying of dehydration), and long stretches of beach with swaying palms. What could be more comforting than the familiar voice of Bob Marley and the Wailers telling me, "Baby don't worry 'bout a thing, 'cause every little thing gonna be all right"? I imagine this song would be soothing and lovely no matter how many times I heard it. It certainly has been so far.

Diablo Rojo - Rodrigo y Gabriala - The Live Version, Complete with Cheers

From my desert island songs I will want two things: cheering up and mental escape from my lonely little island. The live version of instrumental Diablo Rojo will bring me both. It's a wild and wonderful song featuring two acoustic guitar players that sound like a room full of musicians. I'd bring the live version because it's longer and, with my eyes closed, I can pretend I'm in an auditorium full of fellow music lovers. That's a lot of good stuff for one song.

You Can Love Yourself - Keb' Mo' - Who Needs Other People?

With gentle humor and an excellent point, Keb' Mo' will remind me that "if nobody loves you and you're feeling like dust on an empty shelf just remember: you can love yourself". When I'm giving in to self pity and wishing for someone to keep me company Keb' Mo' will remind that other people aren't always such a great thing. I can spend a month learning to love me and certainly when I get rescued I'll be better at loving other people, too. Plus I happen to be a big fan and I just love this song.

Sample and Buy My Top Ten Deserted Songs

Make your own little desert island mix tape or just grab the ones you enjoyed. I've chosen the mp3s from the albums I already own so I know and love these songs exactly as they appear here. Don't forget to add your suggestions at the end of the list. If I like the song I'll add it to the stack here so that everyone can enjoy it!

Weave - Rusted Root - Mellow Dance Music to Conserve Energy

If I'm going to be all alone for a month I'm going to get some serious dancing in where no one can see me. Weave makes me want to wiggle my backbone, that's for sure but not so wildly that I'm going to be thirsty and starving when I'm finally done. Getting down will cheer me up and Rusted Root will let me reminisce about all of the wonderful times I was dancing or just chatting with people while listening to their music.

Ain't Nothin' Wrong with That - Robert Randolph & the Family Band - A Song of Peace and...Funk

While I'm shaking my groove thang on that desert island, I might as well bring a song about peace, love, and the universal nature of music. Robert Randolph and the Family Band have put together this fabulous, funky song and I just can't get enough. Meditating on the message will help me return to civilization with an open mind and grooving to the funky beat in the mean time will keep me sane. There Ain't Nothin' Wrong with That!

Stranded in the Jungle - Voodoo Glow Skulls - Not the Original but a Great Song

The Voodoo Glow Skulls updated the sound of Stranded in the Jungle from the 50s doo-wop hit by The Cadets. It's a modern-sounding song that will serve to remind me that, stranded though I am on this deserted island, it could always be worse. I could be in a pot as dinner while my sweetheart was back home being chatted up by someone else. Whew, at least I'm only here for a month! You'll notice I'm not cheating and including The Cadets and The New York Dolls versions as well--as a single song--tempting though that was.

Keep On - Champion - Five Guitarists and One Amazing Talent

Here's another instrumental that will keep me going. This one not only rocks but this video shows you just what happens behind the scenes: Champion directs live guitar players while creating the entire rest of the song from his mass of electronic equipment. How can you not love a talent like that? Keep On surges and ebbs like the tide on my deserted island will with a driving beat to keep me moving. I've got to build that shelter and find those coconuts, you know!

Bang Bang - David Sanborn - A Fantastic, Feel-Good Song

While the original Joe Cuba hit is fantastic this version is more polished. Not only would I get the imaginary party around me when I close my eyes but I can work on my dance moves and sing along at top volume. "Beep beep! Awww beep beep!" I can see me now, feet in the sand and arms akimbo. It's a guaranteed happy, something that I would value after weeks on a desert isle alone. And the idea of eating hog maw will perhaps tamp down my hunger while I'm at it. I'm guessing I won't have my saxophone with me but I can enjoy David Sanborn playing his and with all of that driftwood and empty coconut shells I can surely improvise a drum set. Bang Bang, indeed.

Ain't Nobody's Business if I Do - But Which One?!

Maybe it's the line that says, "If I should take a notion to jump into the ocean, ain't nobody's business if I do" but this seems an essential song for being stranded on a deserted island. Naturally, it's nobody's business what I do for a month all alone. I'm including a fantastic Broadway version from Ruth Brown and Linda Hopkins but there are so many that it might take me a month to choose which one to bring along.

Dvorak's Symphony No 6 in D Major - Just the Finale if I Can't Have the Whole Thing

Depending on how you look at classical music, the whole symphony could be counted as one song. But if I'm going to be a stickler and insist that a song is a single track on an album then I'll choose the final movement, the finale of Symphony No. 6 in D Major from Dvorak. It's my favorite classical piece and the one that makes me wish I was a conductor. On my own little island I can direct the palms and the waves, the birds and the clouds to my heart's content without the person next to me at the stoplight staring. I have got to stop listening to this in the car.

Note that this video is not. It's just a black screen. To me that suits the song better. I can visualize my tympani section hammering away, my clarinets and oboes twittering, and my strings sawing madly without distraction. Plus I couldn't find a video of a symphony performing it.

Which of My Top Ten Do You Love? - Or Am I on a Trip by Myself?

desert, deserted island, palm trees, beach, rocks, songs, music
desert, deserted island, palm trees, beach, rocks, songs, music

Everyone has their own musical taste. Some songs I love but can only hear once in a while or they lose their charm. These ten songs I can listen to over and over again (and have). What do you think of them--could you bring any of them for a month on a deserted island or am I all wet? Vote below and let me know why you picked that song (or none of them), too.

Which Top Ten Deserted Island Songs Is Best?

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Let me know which ten songs you'd bring when stranded on a desert island or just pick one of your favorite pieces of music and share it here. If I like it I'll put it on the lists above for other readers to sample! If one (or all) of these songs are new to you I'd love to know what you think. And if you've got a song you think would fit well with these or that I would love a suggestion below would be most welcome. I'm always looking for more great music.

What Music Would YOU Bring? - Share Your All-Time Favorite Songs Here!

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