PT Walkley

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 PT Walkley, whose latest release, Thriller, is out now. Visit PT’s site to hear samples of his work — after reading his Desert Island picks, of course.

When it comes to this type of hypothetical, why is it that my gut instinct is to try and cheat the system… Come up with some sort of trick answer that gives me eight albums to listen to, or wonder if burning my own mix CDs would be allowed? Is it my intense passion for music, or am I just an asshole?

A dear relative just announced that she has become engaged to be married. So, to suit the occasion, I will use the tried-and-true bride-to-be formula of ‘something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.’ Listening to prime specimens from every genre and era keeps me happy and inspired, so I think this method should yield a good batch.

Something Old

The Beach Boys, Pet Sounds

The music of the 1960s remains a massive influence, and it was painstaking to choose one standout from this era. I thought hard about every Beatles and Stones album and realized I may never need to hear them again, as they are so permanently imprinted. If I think really hard in a quiet room, I could probably almost hear them anyway. Pet Sounds makes me laugh and cry just about every time I hear it. “I try hard to be strong, but sometimes I fail myself” may be my all time favorite lyric.

Plus, proverbially, Brian Wilson did seem to write these songs while on a desert island. Always good to have someone to relate to.

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Something New

Regina Spektor, Begin to Hope

Yes, new is such a relative term, I know. Hell, even if I picked something from the Tuesday I left town, it would be ancient history by the time I returned home. So we’ll keep this category to something relatively new.

There is just so much astoundingly good music out there today. The Gorillaz and New Pornographers equally floor me, I love Radiohead, Coldplay, U2, I am glad The Shins are back, Kanye’s a genius, Sleigh Bells are delightful, and I still love that Robert Plant/Alison Kraus masterpiece… (OK, I think I’m starting to cheat)… But possibly my favorite album in recent years is Regina Spektor’s Begin to Hope. Again it covers the entire emotional spektrum for me, and is full of melodic surprises. Tastefully modern arrangements of strange, gorgeous songs.

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Something Borrowed

Johnny Cash, American Recordings

This is a way for me to slip in the best cover project of all time: Johnny Cash’s American Recordings with Rick Rubin. Mr. Cash will always be hero of mine, and though he is singing other people’s songs, his true spirit seems to be embodied throughout. His rendition of U2’s “One” is so beautiful. it outdoes the original. A bold statement.

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Something Blue

Harry Nilsson, Greatest Hits

Let’s face it, when you’re sad you want to listen to sad music. Wallow in it! Own it! Wring it all out. The last thing you want is Herb Alpert’s “Spanish Flea” or the Benny Hill theme (“Yakety Sax,” which is my ringtone, by the way) to come along and pour honey on your wounds. Gimme something blue…

People have been singing sad songs since people started singing, so can’t really base this decision on era. So we’ll call it dealer’s choice. Stephin Merritt sure has written some sad songs. So have Patsy Cline, Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan. The saddest line I can think of now is “I heard the sound of a clown who cried in the alley.” But the saddest song is Harry Nilsson’s “Don’t Forget Me”… I’ll take his greatest hits… Yeah, the one with the red cover and his face.

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Oh, I guess that’s only four…whoops. Let’s see… something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue…

Okay, how about Something Else by The Kinks?


PT Walkley’s new album, Thriller, is out today. Check out the video for the first single, “The Way That You Are”:

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