Issue No. 2 TASTE

Shipwreck Soundtrack

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Art by Ron Baxter Smith

Created by Roy Plomley in the aftermath of the German bombing of London during World War II, the BBC first aired Desert Island Discs in 1942 with a simple question: which records would you take with you as a castaway, “assuming of course, that you had a gramophone and an inexhaustible supply of needles?”

Today that particular assumption is moot, but perhaps Desert Island Discs has actually become more potent with age. Our current era is one in which the chief concern is not scarcity, but the opposite: there is too much media to wade through. So forget the cloud, which discs would you bring to the sand? George and Glenn share their desert island picks.

“Light My Fire”
The Doors


George: When I was 12, I travelled outside of Ontario for the first time to attend the Expo 67 in Montreal. I felt the excitement and optimism of an incredible architectural wonderland. We traveled on rails—Jetsons-style—through the pavilions and above the crowds. I saw 1-meter-square granite rocks representing the simple perfection of the northern Canadian Shield. That song is forever entwined with the rush of travel and discovery that I felt on that trip.

“Pull Up to the Bumper”
Grace Jones


George: It was the peak of the nightclub era. We would go to Studio 54 three or four times a year, driving down from Toronto with friends. We were too young to be hippies; we were a shoulder generation in terms of music, representing a cultural valley. Grace Jones made that leap and connection for me. She was an original arbiter of style; her look has evolved and has been emulated by Madonna, Lady Gaga, and Beyoncé.

“When Did You Leave Heaven?”
Jimmy Scott


Glenn: His voice is so distinct, high and almost androgynous at times. But it’s also so sincere, and apparently, a (so-called) birth defect. The song is melancholic for a love song, but for me it brings back strong clear memories of beauty and feelings of young love.

“I’m Hip”
Blossom Dearie


Glenn: In my very first job after graduating from school, the fellow that I worked for would play Blossom Dearie all the time. I kind of fell in love with her because she was almost like an unknown Peggy Lee. We even went to see her once. She reminds me of those times in life when one is very impressionable. She’s perhaps an ironic choice—this sweet little voice.

“Agua de Beber”
Antonio Carlos Jobim & Astrid Gilberto


George: It’s 1963. Brazilian modern design was at its peak at the time and Brazil in general was having a cultural moment; you could see it in the music, in the architecture, even in American films like “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.”  Brazilian modern designers ended up having a tremendous influence on our work. I was more tapped into genres like bossa nova later, in my 30s, but that stemmed from a childhood influence and exposure to the modern Brazil of the 1960s.

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