Picture this: you’re stranded on a desert island with nothing to comfort you but sand, sun and, miraculously, the solar-powered sound system that washed up with you. All of your CDs were lost at sea but, miraculously, a genie appears, promising to restore ten albums–but only ten–of your choice. Oh–and your selections will be published in America’s oldest political weekly.

Such is the scenario we posed to the would-be castaways below, some of whom responded with enthusiasm, others with anxiety, many with a combination of both. The results were, as expected, revealing.   –The Editors


Iggy & The Stooges

Raw Power (Columbia)

Duke Ellington

The Immortal 1938 Year (CBS)


Smash (Fresh Sounds)


Heyday: 1979-1983 (Bar None)

Half Japanese

Sing No Evil (Drag City)

Ben Selvin

Dardanella (Asv Living Era)

Jay McShann

Blues from Kansas City: Original Decca Recordings (GRP)


Libertine (El Recordo/Matador)

Artie Shaw

Vol. III of the Bluebird Anthology (RCA)

Damon & Naomi

Playback Singers (Sub Pop)

Thomas Frank, a founding editor of The Baffler, is the author, most recently, of One Market, Under God (Doubleday).


Chavela Vargas

De México y del Mundo (Orfeon)

Lila Downs

La Sandunga (AME)

Lola Beltrán

Serie Platino 20 Exitos (BMG/RCA)

Various Artists

Los Gitanos Cantan a Federico García Lorca, Vol. 2 (Mercury)

Astor Piazzolla

Tango Zero Hour (American Clavé)

Paquita la del Barrio

Grandes Exitos de Paquita la del Barrio (Musart)

Joni Mitchell

Blue (Warner Bros.)

Maria Callas

anything and everything

Billie Holiday


Agustín Lara

sung only by Toña la Negra

Sandra Cisneros is the author, most recently, of the novel Caramelo (Knopf).


Patti Smith

Horses (Arista)

David Bowie

Hunky Dory (Virgin)

Gang of Four

Entertainment! (EMI)

PJ Harvey

Is This Desire? (Polygram)

Velvet Underground

Peel Slowly and See (Polygram)

Sonic Youth

Daydream Nation (Geffen)

Ludwig van Beethoven

The Late Piano Sonatas, Maurizio Pollini (Polygram)

Dmitri Shostakovich

Complete String Quartets, Sorrel Quartet (Chandos)

Chicks on Speed

Will Save Us All! (Efa)

The Coup

Party Music (Tommy Boy)

Doug Henwood, a Nation contributing editor, edits the Left Business Observer. His latest book, A New Economy?, is forthcoming from the New Press.


Velvet Underground

(Golden Archive Series) (MGM)

Bob Dylan

Blonde on Blonde (Columbia)

Bessie Smith

The Bessie Smith Story Vol. 4 (Columbia)

Otis Redding

The Very Best of Otis Redding (Atlantic)

John Fahey

Vol. 1: Blind Joe Death (Takoma)

Lotte Lenya et al.

The Threepenny Opera (MGM/Capriccio)

Tupac Shakur

2Pac-Greatest Hits (Interscope)

Marianne Faithfull

Broken English (Island)

Various Artists

Sopranos: Peppers & Eggs (Music from HBO Original Series) (Sony)

The Rolling Stones

Exile on Main Street (Virgin)

Ellen Willis directs the cultural reporting and criticism program at New York University. Her latest book is Don’t Think, Smile! Notes on a Decade of Denial (Beacon).


The Clash

London Calling (Epic)

Bob Dylan/The Band

The Basement Tapes (bootleg)

Bruce Springsteen

Nebraska (Columbia)

Sam Cooke

The Man and His Music (RCA)

Uncle Tupelo

March 16-20, 1992 (Rockville)

Velvet Underground

Live 1969 (Polygram)

The Rolling Stones

Exile on Main Street (Virgin)

Tom Waits

Small Change (Elektra/Asylum)

Patti Smith

Horses (Arista)

Miles Davis

Kind of Blue (Columbia)

David Corn is The Nation‘s Washington editor.


Boukman Eksperyans

Revolution (Lightyear)

Wyclef Jean

Masquerade (Sony)

Cesaria Evora

Very Best of Cesaria Evora (RCA)


Voyage to India (Universal)

Salif Keita

Moffou (Universal)

Caetano Veloso

Live in Bahia (Nonesuch)

Cassandra Wilson

Belly of the Sun (Blue Note)

Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir

Be Glad (Word Entertainment)

Lauryn Hill

MTV Unplugged No. 2.0 (Sony)

The Classical Jazz Quartet

Plays Bach (Vertical Jazz)

Edwidge Danticat’s most recent books are After the Dance: A Walk Through Carnival in Jacmal, Haiti (Crown) and Behind the Mountains (Orchard), a young adult novel.


Miles Davis

In a Silent Way (Sony)

Phil Ochs

Gunfight at Carnegie Hall (A&M)

Laura Nyro

Christmas and the Beads of Sweat (Sony)

Al Green

Call Me (Capitol)

Kevin Ayers/John Cale/Nico/Brian Eno

June 1, 1974 (Polygram Int’l)

Patti Smith

Horses (Arista)

Linton Kwesi Johnson

Dread Bead an’ Blood (Caroline)

Tom Robinson

Band Power in the Darkness (BMG/Razor & Tie)


We Love Life (Sanctuary)

Nicola Conte

Jet Sounds Revisited (Esl Music)

John Nichols is The Nation‘s Washington correspondent.


Ralph Stanley

Saturday Night & Sunday Morning (Freeland)

Doc Watson

On Praying Ground (Sugarhill)

Alison Krauss and The Cox Family

I Know Who Holds Tomorrow (Rounder/Pgd)

The Nashville Bluegrass Band

To Be His Child (Rounder)

Bob Dylan

World Gone Wrong (Sony)

Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau

Die Winterreise (Schubert) (Polygram)

Thomas Hampson & Samuel Ramey

No Tenors Allowed (Elektra/Asylum)


Don Giovanni, Conductor: Josef Krip (London)


Cosí Fan Tutte, Conductor: Karl Böhm (Angel)

Cesaria Evora

São Vincente (Windham Hill)

Katha Pollitt is a columnist for The Nation.


Bruce Springsteen

You Can Trust Your Car to the Man Who Wears the Star: Live at The Main Point, 1975 (bootleg)

Bob Dylan

Biograph (Sony/Columbia)

The Beatles

The White Album (Capitol)

The Rolling Stones

Forty Licks (Virgin)

Miles Davis/John Coltrane

The Complete Columbia Recordings, 1955-1961 (Sony)

Duke Ellington

The Blanton-Webster Band (RCA)

Frank Sinatra

The Complete Capitol Singles Collection (Capitol)

Hank Williams

The Complete Hank Williams (Polygram)

Elvis Presley

The Complete 50’s Masters (RCA)

Various Artists

Beg, Scream and Shout!: The Big Ol’ Box of Sixties Soul (Rhino)

Eric Alterman is a columnist for The Nation.


Aretha Franklin

The Very Best of Aretha Franklin, Vol. 1 (Rhino)

Al Green

Greatest Hits (Hi Records)

Stevie Wonder

Song Review: A Greatest Hits Collection (Motown)

Lucinda Williams

Car Wheels on a Gravel Road (Polygram)

Carole King

Tapestry (Epic/Ode)

Van Morrison

The Best of Van Morrison (Polygram)


Dummy (Polygram)

Tom Waits

The Early Years, Vol. 2 (Manifesto)

Bob Dylan

Bootleg Series Vol. 3 (Sony)

Bulat Okudzhava

Collected Songs (Solyd)

Katrina vanden Heuvel is editor of The Nation.