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 Lee Feldman, whose latest release, Album No. 4: Trying to Put the Things Together that Never Been Together Before, is out now. Visit his official site for samples of Lee’s music — after reading his Desert Island picks, of course!
Before I offer up my five Desert Island discs, I should throw in a couple caveats. Although I’ve listened to a lot of music in my 52 years, I really don’t listen to much stuff these days. I don’t live on a desert island, but I do live in a very small apartment in Brooklyn with my wife, two young kids and two cats. I practice (mostly Bach, Chopin and original music) on my upright piano. The kids make their own sounds. And the rest of the time I like it quiet.
The other caveat is that if I were to offer up five discs to listen to if I were alone and without a piano for the rest of my life, I wouldn’t limit them to pop music. So, that being said, here goes:
Beatles: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
I remember when this record entered our apartment on the Upper West Side of Manhattan in 1967. I guess I was eight years old. The eclectic inevitability of this album has been an inspiration to me and a standard to reach for. As an eight-year-old my favorite song was, of course, “For the Benefit of Mr. Kite.”
Morton Feldman: Piano and String Quartet (Kronos Quartet and Aki Takahashi)
No relation to me, Morton Feldman is my favorite post-WWII composer. His pieces are long (this one is 78 minutes) and bend time. On a desert island it would help me contemplate my existential plight. Here’s a cool video of the piece I found on YouTube:
The visuals, I think, complement the music beautifully. The filmmaker says, “My girlfriend and I (we made the video together) started with six pieces of film. Each of them about seven seconds long. The films were made in an empty room of the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. You see a wall, the ceiling and a corner, filmed from different angles.”
Bach: The Well-Tempered Clavier 1 & 2 (Rosalyn Tureck)
Bach is my favorite composer of all time and I’m learning The Well-Tempered Clavier as a lifetime goal (I learn a line of music a day. I’m halfway through Book 2!) I like Rosalyn Tureck’s no-nonsense musical approach and she has beautiful piano tone. If I were on a desert island I would hope to have the score of the music with me as well.
Joni Mitchell: Blue
A masterpiece, and it would help me connect to my emotions. And I would need a female voice on the island.
Cecil Taylor: Jazz Advance
Tough to choose which jazz album to bring. My favorite artists are Miles, Monk, Bill Evans…but I took a month-long workshop with Cecil and have seen him perform many times. This is his debut album, and it points towards where he will go but it’s also rooted in the jazz tradition. And, recorded in 1956, it would remind me of all the great music that was happening around that time.
And couldn’t I bring along one of my discs, just to remember how awesome I am/was? I’d bring Living It All Wrong, my first one.