If you had to go away for awhile and you could only take five of your favorite albums with you, which ones would you choose? Yes, we know it isn’t a fair question, but that hasn’t stopped us from asking music fans who happen to be recording artists in their own right. This edition of Desert Island Discs comes courtesy of the Okee Dokee Brothers, whose latest LP, Can You Canoe?, is out now. You can preview a pair of videos from the album below — after reading their Desert Island picks, of course!
Paul Simon, Graceland
We’ve been listening to this album since we were kids. It was an ever-present album on family road trips and continued to be a source of inspiration during our high school and college music explorations. We are still amazed at Paul’s vocal delivery. No matter what he sings, it sounds heavenly. The fact that he’s singing outstanding lyrics just adds to our fanaticism. The way he delved into South African music, culture, and politics while making this record has always been a reminder to us that music is more than notes.
Dawes, North Hills
This record is representative of our more contemporary influences (it falls just above Justin Townes Earle’s Harlem River Blues in that category). We’ve been lucky enough to see Dawes perform multiple times as they’ve risen through the ranks and we’ve even had a chance to spend a day talking about songs with them. Their first record taught us the importance of a classic sound and the value of capturing an authentic performance in the studio with real energy. While we didn’t record Can You Canoe? analog like North Hills, we did try to capture as much live takes as possible. You can hear a bit of the Dawes influence on our tune “Thousand Star Hotel” after the interlude.
Gillian Welch, Time (The Revelator)
This record is a prime example of collaboration at its finest. David Rawling’s harmonies and lead guitar are the prefect match to Gillian’s voice. They both help write the songs too, so they’re an inspiration to us as a duo. Plus they write such unique melody and harmony lines. On this record they prove that folk music can be dissonant, harmonious, slow, and full of energy all at the same time.
John Prine, John Prine
This guy knows how to write songs with the perfect amount of tragedy and comedy, and that’s what it’s all about. He’s incredibly vulnerable and honest on this album and at the same time, he doesn’t take himself too seriously. This record proves that good music making requires good livin’ (whether that’s hard livin or happy livin’)!
The Band, Music from Big Pink
We love this record because it essentially takes all our favorite folk song parameters and invites them to let go a bit and wail away at a basement rock party. We love what the Band stood for (Dylan’s “brave knights” when he went electric, bringing musician’s together for collaborations like The Last Waltz, adding a contemporary edge to traditional songs, really great lyric writing) and this record highlights their best tunes and attributes. It was an honor to have Garth Hudson (the Band’s organ player, and more) play accordion on a couple tracks on Can You Canoe? and we really looked up to Levon, Danko, and Richard Manuel too. Robbie’s no slouch either!
Overall, if you’re gonna have just five albums to listen to on a desert island, the most important attribute has to be repeated listenability. All of these albums have that essential mixture of easy-to-understand, yet mysterious enough to listen to over and over. That combination is the most important part to making a good album no matter what genre of music you’re making.