Desert Island Discs with Cyndi Harvell

Written by Desert Island Discs, Music

If you had to go away for awhile and you could only take five of your favorite albums with you, which ones would you choose? In this edition of Desert Island Discs, Cyndi Harvell makes her picks.

If you had to go away for awhile and you could only take five of your favorite albums with you, which ones would you choose? Yes, we know it isn’t a fair question, but that hasn’t stopped us from asking music fans who happen to be recording artists in their own right. This edition of Desert Island Discs comes courtesy of Cyndi Harvell, whose latest album, Heartache & Revolution, is out May 6. Visit her official site and watch the video for her new song “Flood” below — and then read her Desert Island picks, of course!


Man, I hope I’m never on a desert island. Not only am I not into water sports, but I need lots of SPF­500 and I bet drugstores are limited out there. Also, the idea of fashioning a fishing spear from a tree branch and sharpening it with rock makes me want to jump off a cliff. I could go on here. But I guess if I had a music player and an unlimited supply of batteries then it would be a little less awful. Although these days it seems more fitting to ask what 10,000 songs I would fill my desert island iPod with. But if the desert island we’re going to is back in 1999, then here are my 5 picks.

Weezer,­ Weezer (the blue one)

Look, I’m picky. There’s not a lot of albums I like all the way through. There’s not a lot of albums that I will sing along with the entire way through, or dance along with or feel happy during. The whole way through. And this one wins in every one of those categories. It’s been field­tested on various road trips. It instantly ups my mood, like, 50 points, every time. I have the BEST memories associated with these songs. Carefree, unadulterated joy. Exactly what you need when enjoying the daily desert island activity of sand­castle building.


Fleet Foxes, Helplessness Blues

Because I also need an album that wows me with mind­melding harmonies and unbelievably good songwriting. This one changes something in my soul every single time I listen to it. I’m not sure how to put it into words, but I saw them live at the Greek Theater in Berkeley and I don’t think I even breathed for the length of their set. Also I feel smarter when I put this album on. So if there are any math problems to solve, it’s ON.


Paul Simon, Graceland

My boyfriend in college made me a mixtape with “Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes” on it. Before that I had never really experienced Paul Simon. And I had never before heard anything like these songs. It’s like all your life thinking that tacos are what comes out of the “Old El Paso” kit at the supermarket… and then you move to California and eat in the Mission in San Francisco. Revelation.


The New Pornographers, ­Electric Version

Electric Version makes me feel the way the Weezer album does and since a desert island future seems like a grim one, I think it’s only fair to double up on the stupidly happy albums. Except with this one, I still don’t know what half the lyrics are. But I sing along like I do. And since I didn’t have enough room to put a Neko Case album on the list, at least I can get that fix here. I love how this band just goes for it. Unapologetically. And in the most fun way possible.


Rufus Wainwright, Poses

I was in college, seeing one of my then-­favorite bands, Jump, Little Children, and pre­-show they put this album on. I had never heard Rufus Wainwright before, but I had read something about him. Hearing it over the speakers, I (very strangely) knew immediately it was him — I don’t know how—but I went out and bought the album the next day. Me and that album were meant to be. Soulmates. I saw him live that year at the 40 Watt in Athens, GA, where I was going to school, and it was still one of my favorite live shows ever. (Michael Stipe was standing right behind me in the crowd.) Killer voice, gorgeous compositions, and on stage he was vibrantly charismatic and magnetic in a rare way. So, so good. Chocolate milk good.