the ben & john challenge

ben & john ask:

Suppose you were given 50 blank CDs by someone who had little to no knowledge of popular music, either comtemporarily or historically. Yet said person enjoyed music and wanted to be exposed to it. Or, pretend the person is an alien (if you’re into that sort of thing) and gave you 50 discs to deliver a crash course in what’s going on in music and where it came from. And if it sucked, said alien would destroy the planet. Or, maybe just your neighborhood.

1) How would you divide up the 50 discs? By genre? By theme? By chronology? By influence?

2) What are your “Don’t tell anyone you don’t own Blonde on Blonde. It’s gonna be okay” albums? That is, regardless of genre, what are the 10 essential albums? What are the 10 albums someone absolutely, positively must own in order to understand life on this planet during the second half of the first decade of the 21st millennium? Please justify your answer with a brief response to each one.

Ugh! this is impossible and anyone who answers is bound to look like an ass as there’s no, absolutely no way to make a really comprehensive listing. that said we can be thankful that music has really only been viably recorded for the past 100 years or so

1) how to divide the 50 disks
i don’t know how i’d divide up the 50 discs, dammit. i’d probably do it like 50 times, that’s what. in the end i’d probably be forced to settle on something that’s at least reasonably chronologic. and what’s the difference between theme and genre, really?

2) essential 10

1) Ella & Lois – ella fitzgerald & louis armstrong
2) foundation ska – the skatalites
3) hejira – joni mitchell
4) music with changing parts – philip glass
5) pet sounds – beach boys
6) in concert – janis joplin
7) workingman’s dead – grateful dead
8) live through this – hole
9) living in clip – ani difranco
10) the black album – jay-z

i find it interesting that in all the versions of this that i’ve come across, there are virtually no female artists listed – what’s up with that?

current listeningWYPR

  1. muhgcee said:

    I have Portishead and Massive Attack in my list. Why do they not count?

  2. muhgcee said:

    Oh, you said virtually. Hehe, sorry :-P

  3. Anonymous said:

    Re: no woemn…

    As I was going throug my list, I was thinking about how female musicians had not really resonated for me until I got out of college. But more than anything, I can’t think of any female artist that I that impacted me more than what I put on my Top 10. Probably the one closest to make it (and it wasn’t that close) is Jagged Little Pill or Tigerlilly.

    I think if I had stuck to the original question then it would have been easier because it would have been it would have been more in the abstract.


  4. sarah said:

    okay, muhgcee – i saw your votes of Portishead & Massive Attack. you WERE the reason that i said virtually! :)

    mike, the reason that i bring it up isn’t to be pissy, i just find it interesting. what was it about JLP and Tigerlilly that really got through to you and you enjoyed about them?
    I totally forgot about Tigerlilly – it’s a beautiful album.

  5. jackie said:

    I only have four of your essentials! Why “hejira,” if I might ask?

  6. sarah said:

    hmmm…that’s a good question, Jackie.
    I think that i definately needed a joni mitchell album on there and it was between this one and Blue. to me there’s a quiet resolve about this album, it’s weary in a way that i think reflects the period – released in 1976 after the crazy political movements of the late 60s and early 70s. the sound on this album feels like a woman who’s lived that experience, a woman exercising her own agency which she knows she has a right to do. i feel that it’s very feminist in a complicated, and real-life way.

    also with the songs Amelia, Blue Motel Room, Refuge of the Road, that this album really talks about movement, both literal and figurative. what physical movement means in our emotional lives, and what the consequences and benefits of that movement can be.

    i’d like to see you take a crack at this meme, jackie!

  7. Anonymous said:


    I didn’t think you were being pissy, just thought I’d offer my take as to why no women made my list. :o)

    JLP resonated because I was still into the grunge/alt rock scene at the time, and it was a pretty rockin’ album. But once it took off, it lost its charm.

    Tigerlilly resonated with me after my divorce mostly because of its somewhat melancholy sound.


  8. sarah said:

    oh good. i was reading over the last line in my post and was like, hmmmm…that sounds pissy. :)

    thanks for letting me know. tigerlilly is beautifully melancholy. i wonder where my copy of that is?

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