Remember the 2000 Tom Hanks movie, Cast Away, in which Hanks gave an Oscar-nominated performance as Chuck Noland, a FedEx employee whose plane crashes in the South Pacific and he winds up stranded on a deserted island for years, with only his companion – a volleyball he names Wilson – to keep him company?

Tom Hanks in the 2000 motion picture, Cast Away.
Tom Hanks in the 2000 motion picture, Cast Away.

Well imagine you’re a castaway on a deserted island, alone with no means of communication with the outside world, no foreseeable hope of being rescued and no form of entertainment other than watching the elements of nature flourish all around you as you ponder your next meal, your family back home and your life in general.

Now imagine you’re allowed to have with you only one album/CD (a full-length album and a means to play it) to keep you company, sort of like that companion Hanks’ character fashioned in the form of a volleyball.  Except, in this case, at least your companion gives back to you – in the form of listening pleasure.

Now I’m aware that this is 2016, and we live in a world with all kinds of smart devices that contain seemingly limitless amounts of data that is always available to us…okay, maybe not limitless data – we’re all constrained somehow, but you get my drift.

However, in this scenario, you’ve lost yours – and the only thing you happen to have is a CD player with an (imaginary) endless battery supply and that one CD – the one full-length album you get to listen to over and over again.

Which CD would you want to have and why?

Think about it:  you’re about to be forced to listen to this CD and no other form of entertainment for an indefinite amount of time, with no end in sight.  You’ll have food and other sustenance to keep you alive, but this album will be it as far as your listening pleasure goes.

Maybe there are four or five (or more) albums that stand out for you, but I want to know that one album that stands above the rest and why you’d bring it.

It might be your favorite album of all time, or maybe it’s not your favorite album but one that you’ll find soothing as you ponder your state of isolation day after day.

Maybe it’s not a current favorite, but one that will inspire you as you plan your survival strategy for this new phase of life.

Actually, my good friend Adam presented me with this unlikely scenario and asked what CD I would want with me.

I’ve listened to many great albums over the years and have several candidates that come to mind were I to find myself in this situation.

Great ’70s pop/rock albums and childhood faves like Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours, Boston’s first self-titled album, Gerry Rafferty’s City to City and Supertramp’s Breakfast In America regularly rank among my favorites.

Billy Joel’s The Stranger is another classic that I’d consider as well as the Beatles’ Abbey Road.

The Beatles' Abbey Road.
The Beatles’ Abbey Road.

For dance/disco music, I’d consider quintessential album’s like Chic’s C’est Chic or Diana Ross’ 1980 Diana album.  Those two LPs represent a huge part of my early teen years and I couldn’t imagine going long periods of time without them, although I cannot imagine being in a festive party mood while stranded on a deserted island.

On the hip-hop and R&B side, Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814, Luther Vandross’ Forever, For Always, For Love, Mary J. Blige’s My Life or Biggie’s Life After Death have regularly ranked at the top of my list.  I would also throw Jill Scott’s first album (Who is Jill Scott? Words and Sounds, Vol. 1) or Lauryn Hill’s The Miseducation of… in the mix.  Or for an even older fix, I could see Rufus featuring Chaka Khan’s 1977 album, Ask Rufus, being that one album with me on this island.

Lauryn Hill’s The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, from 1998.

Or maybe it’s a jazz CD you’d favor…I could listen to Coltrane’s My Favorite Things, both the album and it’s 13-minute title track, over and over again without tiring of it – I think.

And you can’t have this conversation without considering any one of the major crossover blockbuster albums by legends like Michael Jackson or Prince.

But the artist whose album I’d make sure was packed in my bag would be the one and only Stevie Wonder.  And while there are several classic Stevie albums I’d be torn between, including Fulfillingness’ First Finale, Talking Book and Innervisions among them, the one original album/CD I’d have with me on this desert island would have to be his Songs In The Key Of Life.

This is the album I'd want to have with me on that deserted island.
This is the album I’d want to have with me on that deserted island.

In my case, that nearly 40-year-old classic also happens to be my favorite collective work of all time and one I still find myself listening to in its entirety several times a year.

A testament to why I’d pick Wonder’s 1976 masterpiece is the fact that my favorite tunes on the album have changed many times over the years.  At one point as a child it alternated between “Sir Duke” and “Isn’t She Lovely.”  In my younger adult life, it shifted to “As” and then “Another Star.”

Lately I’ve been singing the praises of the more poignant and introspective “Joy Inside My Tears.”

Stevie Wonder

In other words, there are so many good songs on that classic CD, that I can easily imagine myself playing it on repeat without being disappointed or annoyed.  Forty years on, I’m sure I can discover some other new subtlety about the album’s rhythm tracks or Wonder’s amazing lyrics and wonder why I didn’t hear it during the hundreds of times I’ve played the album before.

Plus, the album holds a plethora of childhood and adulthood memories for me.  I remember where I was when the songs were popular, and who my friends were.  I remember debates with friends in my young adulthood about whether it was the greatest album of all time.  And I remember just two years ago seeing Wonder perform the album live in its entirety – and in order – during his Songs In The Key Of Life tour…twice!


Yep, Songs In The Key Of Life by Stevie is definitely the album I’d want to have with me alone on this deserted island.

So I’ve explained mine, what would be yours?

Oh, by the way, NO compilation CDs or Greatest Hits releases please.  I’m looking for original studio or live albums (although exceptions may be made for classic greatest hits albums like Bob Marley’s Legend or Eagles’ Their Greatest Hits, 1971 -1975).

You’ll be tempted to comment on my Facebook page, but I’d rather you post your comments right here, so that they’ll be forever linked to this article.

Now choose…while I work on a way to get you off this island.


By DJ Rob

21 thoughts on “Which Album Would You Want to be Stranded With on a Deserted Island?”
  1. Earth Wind & Fire, Greatest Hits…… why? Start to finish an AMAZING Album that never gets old

  2. Being a lifelong Prince fan my immediate choice would’ve been Sign ‘O’ The Times, but thinking about it for a while I have decided to pick The Rainbow Children, simply for the fact that there it is such a departure from his usual sound and there is something new to hear on it with every listen. I wasn’t a fan on first listen but now I couldn’t imagine my life without it.

    1. Nice, Simon. I appreciate the departure from the traditional Prince albums that people typically cite – myself included.

      1. Yes, I see on the Facebook comments plenty of people saying “Purple Rain!”, it’s an important album but it’s not his best (it’s up there though ?)

  3. By far, this has been the most challenging question/topic since the beginning of djrobblog!!! I have pondered this & tossed a few albums back & forth. First and foremost, I knew if I were on a deserted island, I would need a constant source of inspiration, encouragement, & motivation. So I began to shuffle through my favorite gospel CDs of all time. While many came to mind, only ONE artist stood out from all the rest…Fred Hammond. With that being said, I then had to narrow my 3 choices (Inner Court, Spirit of David, & Pages of Life -chapters 1 &2) down to only one.

    As difficult as it was to choose, I decided to go with “The Spirit of David”. Fred Hammond is to gospel music what Babyface is to R&B. He is a phenomenal writer, producer, singer, instrumentalist, you name it!!! His musical genius has stood the test of time for over three decades. Spirit of David embodies a total worship experience from beginning to end & I never skip a song! This CD has helped me through some of the most painful times of my life. To top it all off, it is an hour and 30 minutes long which gave it the edge over Pages of Life chapters1 & 2. On that island, I’m gonna need all the Jesus I can get lol! Excellent topic!!!

    1. I should’ve thought about gospel or Christian music as one of the options, especially for the situation I’ve created. Good choice, Cam!

  4. Wow! This is a tough decision. While early 1970s Stevie Wonder is perfection (Innervisions), I think I’d have on me something even more sentimental. Vocally I’d want to hear O.C. Wilson or maybe even some Charlie Pride, Joe Williams, or Ray Charles. I’d be on an island, so I would think back my boyhood/scout survival mode. My favorite O.C. Wilson song is The Learning Tree which was the soundtrack to the movie The Learning Tree by Gordon Parks. This song is virtually impossible to locate or download. With that said, I’d have to have at least 3 choices to be stranded with. I’m deserted, so here goes:
    Sketches of Spain by Miles Davis (all 5 movements)
    A Love Supreme by John Coltrane
    The Best of Mahalia Jackson
    Strange? I know but, I will be thinking and praying my ass gets rescued lol.

  5. Sade’s LOVE DELUX. There is something soothing and other worldly about the entire album. The song Kiss of Life sounds as if an angel is singing you a lullaby. I would need to be calm if stranded on an island. I cant think of a better album to keep me that way.

Your thoughts?