Singer/songwriter John Mark McMillan recently released his fourth studio album, Economy. Hailing from Charlotte, NC, McMillan’s music draws it’s inspiration from the music of many of today’s most highly regarded singers and songwriters. John Mark sat down and created this list of Desert Island Discs which runs the gamut from a reggae classic to more recent (but just as excellent) albums by troubadours of a more contemporary stripe.
Bruce Springsteen: Darkness on the Edge of Town
After the success of Born To Run I heard that Springsteen felt disconnected to the life in his hometown that he believed inspired the album. Darkness, he said, was his attempt to reconnect to the way of life and the people he grew up around. In a similar way I feel like I’ve become more compelled by the stories of the people around me lately. I love how Bruce writes extraordinary songs about ordinary people.
The Black Pepper Corns: Tumbling Ground
They put out one album in the ’90s, but it was one of my favorites. It kind of sounds like Van Morrison meets Dylan Thomas in the dirty South. I love Kevin’s voice and I feel like the imagery in songs like “Tumbling Ground” and “Please” have often haunted me in my attempts at songwriting.
Ryan Adams: Cold Roses
It’s hard to be a thirty-something year old dude from North Carolina and not enjoy Ryan Adams. This is the only double album that I know I wouldn’t skip a single track. I could listen to “Dance All Night” or “Life is Beautiful” any day of the week and I think songs like “How Do You Keep Love Alive” are so beautifully sad. I’m a sucker for sad songs.
Beck: Sea Change
There are so few albums that could be classified as “timeless” and this is one of those to me. You could have told me it was recorded any time in the last 30 years and I would almost believe you. The vibe and the production are subtle and smart but the songs are real songs that could stand on their own. I love Beck’s willingness to take risks and to move into territory that is so different from what his audience may expect from him.
Bob Marley & The Wailers: Catch a Fire
I love Bob Marley. Something about the struggle in his voice and the way he sings for the people has always been compelling to me. I guess I love the idea of a champion and he certainly seemed to be one. Plus I can listen to Caribbean music all year round. I don’t just hear happy, fun beach music. I hear a story about people.