I should have seen it coming.
When I invited Monitor readers to submit their Top 10 desert- island discs in the July 24 Arts & Leisure section, I figured the lists would trickle in over time. In the meanwhile, I'd just go off to my solitary island and spend my golden years listening to my personal favorites.
But the invasion had already begun. Monitor readers had found me. Soon cyberspace was crammed with lists, crawling with crooners, and raining rock 'n' rollers. They came by US mail, e-mail, voice mail, and yes, by little yellow Post-It notes stuck to my computer monitor. One in particular, now seared in my memory, simply said, "Dusty Springfield?"
The first wave came ashore sporting colorful names like Ludwig, Wolfgang, John, Paul, George, and Ringo. These were equal-opportunity lists with an eclectic mix of swingin' jazz cats and Neapolitan opera singers; sensitive singer-songwriters and headbangers; edgy-alternative rockers and classical masters.
Suddenly, from nearly eight miles high, the Byrds, the Eagles, and Jefferson Airplane descended onto the beach. Next, Missouri Monitor reader Tom Wessel introduced some swingers to the party - the big bands of Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, Benny Goodman, and Artie Shaw.
Not to be outdone in the volume department, New York reader John Esche invited the casts of Broadway musicals "Showboat," "The Baker's Wife," and "She Loves Me." The Sharks and Jets from Leonard Bernstein's timeless score for "West Side Story" caught the drift and crashed the party as well. Things were getting pretty crowded on my little island.
Then the latecomers showed up! A happy reader named Jean Ruth was accompanied by no less than four romantic crooners: Perry Como, Jack Jones, Julio Iglesias, and Italian heartthrob Andrea Bocelli. The Beach Boys soon arrived with their California girls, Clapton escorted Layla, cult favorites Little Feat brought "Dixie Chicken" for everybody, and Marvin Gaye just wondered what was going on.
Soon royalty arrived. (And me without chips or soda to offer!) The Queen of Soul was greeted with utmost r-e-s-p-e-c-t, as was her nattily dressed court. The Artist Formerly Known as Prince majestically reigned in purple, and the Duke was positively Ellington in indigo, black, and tan. But the King. Where was the King? Apparently he has left the building, for not a single reader included Elvis on their list.
Another famous New Yorker, aka The Chairman of the Board, did it his way, arriving just in the nick of time with Bonnie Raitt. Joni Mitchell then disembarked from a yellow taxi, escorted by jazz legend Miles Davis, who looked kind of blue.
As you can imagine, it was quite a shindig. A swingin' time was had by all, and the variety of musical guests and volume of your responses made two things perfectly clear.
One, there is a bunch of passionate music lovers out there in Monitor-land. And second, we'll have to do this again real soon.
Until then, check out some of these artists. Maybe you'll make some exciting new discoveries. I know I have.
And I'll be sure to book a bigger island next time.
Top 20 Desert Island Favorites
Compiled from about 50 lists submitted by Monitor readers, staffers, and writer John Kehe.
1. The Beatles. Favorite CDs: "Rubber Soul," "Revolver," "Abbey Road," "White Album," and "Sgt. Pepper" all got votes.
2. Beethoven. Every list cited a different work. You can't miss with Symphony No. 9, though.
3. Mozart. Reader Greg Toney from Baton Rouge, La., recommends "just about anything by Mozart."
4. Enya. Reader favorites include "Watermark" and "Shepherd Moons." Massachusetts reader Karen Marshman says, "Enya is an angel." Florida fan Jenifer Zamber calls her "awesome."
5. Handel. "Messiah" and "Water Music" are the ones to get.
6.Van Morrison. The Celtic soul man has released dozens of good recordings. "Moondance," "His Band & Street Choir," "Avalon Sunset," and "The Best of Van Morrison" are all superb.
7. Paul Simon. "Graceland," "Rhythm of the Saints," and "Negotiations & Love Songs (1971-1986)" are fine examples of his work, the latter featuring his best songwriting and biggest hits.
8. Eric Clapton. Rock fans prefer his Cream albums and "Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs" from 1970. Most fans bought his landmark "Unplugged," which also won several grammies in1992.
9. Puccini and 10. Wagner. We have many opera buffs among our readers. Puccini's "La Boheme" and "Turandot," and Wagner's "Der Ring des Nibelungen" and "Tristan und Isolde" were also mentioned.
11. Frank Sinatra. His best work was done between 1950-1958 for Capitol Records. There's a "best of" called "Capitol Years" that lives up to its billing.
12. Peter Gabriel. "So" is probably one of the best CDs of the '80s. "Us" is also rewarding.
13. Miles Davis. The only jazz cat to get more than one vote! "Kind of Blue" is his classic but a collection called "Ballads & Blues" is a superb introduction.
14. Carole King. On the strength of a single classic album, "Tapestry," this gifted songwriter makes the list.
15. Joni Mitchell. "Blue" is her most accomplished work, followed closely by "Court & Spark." "Miles of Aisles" is a strong live collection.
16. Marvin Gaye. There are several greatest hits collections of this gifted singer. Make sure it has "What's Going On" and "Mercy Mercy Me."
17. Steely Dan. Witty, sardonic pop with memorable tunes and fabulous musicianship. "Aja" is their best single CD, but "A Decade of Steely Dan" or "Gold" are also good choices.
18. Bonnie Raitt. "Nick of Time" is a soulful gem, her grammy-winning comeback in 1989. Also check out the "Bonnie Raitt Collection" which includes all of her best work, more than 20 songs worth.
19. Bach. There are too many to mention, but several readers like the Brandenburg Concertos.
20. Aretha Franklin, Jackson Browne, James Taylor, Rickie Lee Jones, Jack Jones, Alison Krauss, the Beach Boys, Johannes Brahms, Dire Straits, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and the cast album from "West Side Story" all received the same number of votes.