Desert Island-Worthy Music

January 27, 2011 — 2 Comments

Yesterday, the post prompt on “The Daily Post at” was:

If stranded on a desert island, and could only bring one music album with you, which would it be? What is it about this music that never gets old for you?

My answer:

So there are tons* of albums in my collection, which is by no means extensive nor “complete” in the minds of most music lovers.  I’m sure I lack many “classics” that should be part of any music collection.  I also tend to listen to a combined genre – Singer/songwriter & Christian/Gospel – so that is where my selection comes from.

That said, as I considered this question and looked for a single album that I have listened to extensively and connected with over the past year, my desert island-worthy album would be The Medicine, by John Mark McMillan.

This album contains a great mix of what attracts me to a particular album: the tune, lyrics, and the artist.

First, the tune.  I like the way Michael Khran described McMillan’s sound in his comment on a blog post about The Medicine‘s release:

“…a perfect storm of Son Volt, Old97s, VoL, Jay Farrar, Richard Buckner, and My Morning Jacket…”

I like the sound of the “sound’s like” groups above, but still think McMillan has his own – just listen to his other releases and you’ll hear it.  His tunes and arrangements are haunting and engaging at the same time and lend themselves to repeated listens.

Second, lyrics.  For me, lyrics are equally important as the tune.  A catchy tune without deep, engaging, and solid lyrics is a “no-go” for me.  I will pass on a song and even an entire album if the lyrics are meh.  I would say that each song on The Medicine is a keeper for me.  Lyrics like the ones below are perfect examples:

Dress us up in your righteousness
Bring us in with a ring and a kiss
When you walk into the room you know we can’t resist
Every bottle of perfume always ends up on the floor in a mess

– from Dress Us Up

Now daughters and the sons of men
Would pay not their dues again
The debt of blood they owed was rent
When the day rolled a new

– from Death In His Grave

We are his portion and he is our prize
Drawn to redemption by the grace in his eyes
If grace is an ocean we’re all sinking
So heaven meats earth like a sloppy wet kiss
And my heart burns violently inside of my chest
I don’t have time to maintain these regrets
When I think about the way He loves us

– from How he Loves

A Thousand pairs of firey eyes
Burn like a serpent down the hwy 5
As the Long amber tail to Los Angeles unwinds
I’ve got resurrection down in side my skin
But for all my revealating
I just cant make sense
Of this gravity we’re in
Cause I’m a dead man now
with a ghost who lives
Within the confines of these carbon ribs
And one day when I’m free I will sit
The cripple at your table
The cripple by your side

– from Carbon Ribs

World, I have overcome you
World, I have overcome you
World, I have overcome
By my song and the blood of a son

– from Ten Thousand

Lyrics like those that mix deep themes and imagery – wow…

Finally, the artist.  Having read several articles about McMillan, following him on Twitter, and reading his blog, I get the sense that he’s a person who loves music, engaging people, and worshiping the Lord.  Having read about his heart, beliefs, and experiences makes the songs on The Medicine even more engaging.  This video of the story behind How He Loves give some expression of that.  Being a musician myself, the heart behind the songs makes a huge difference to me as well.  Catchy tunes without substance and a thoughtful artist just are a waste of time in my book…

So again, based on the trifecta criteria I generally use in section music (tune, lyrics, and the artist), The Medicine is my “desert island”-worthy selection.

What would be your “desert island”-worthy album?

If you’re not familiar with McMillan, give him a listen:


*An indicator of “tons” would be the numerous calls I’ve received from my credit card security office on iTunes purchases.  Apparently, I make enough to garner suspicious activity…

2 responses to Desert Island-Worthy Music


    For me, I think it would be Claude Debussy’s Greatest Hits. I particularly like Afternoon Of A Faun and Dialogue Of The Wind And The Sea from La Mer.

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