All this talk about Survivor has forced me to think about what I would need if I found myself stranded on a desert island. First of all, this would not be a good thing; the closest I've ever gotten to camping is perusing the L.L. Bean catalogue. I just pray that I'd end up with some high-power sun block and a grandé box of Bioré Deep Cleansing Strips. I'd also need my favorite CDs with me, or else the natives would discover one unhappy camper. (This is assuming that another Gilligan-type thought to rescue a CD player and a slew of AA batteries.) My must-haves would be:
1. Cher's Bittersweet White Light. Who better to honor Tin Pan Alley than the Queen of Subtlety, Cher? This bizarre tribute was released in 1973 and has been making me happy ever since. You haven't lived until you've heard "Am I Blue?" or "Why Was I Born?" with a groovy tambourine backbeat. A brainchild of Sonny Bono, this recording predates similar projects by Linda Ronstadt and Natalie Cole by 10 years. Interestingly, Cher finds a way to sing the expletive "goddamn" in not one, not two, but three cuts on the record.
2. John Pizzarelli's Kisses in the Rain. This is John's newest CD, and it never fails to lift my mood. His Nat Cole-esque arrangements are the hippest. "I Wouldn't Trade You," a song he wrote with his wife (the fabulous actress Jessica Molasky), is such a great New York love song that I ripped it off for my own show.
3. The Barbra Streisand Album. Her first and--let's say it--her best recording. I read somewhere that she can't listen to it now because of the big vocal splat at the end of "Happy Days Are Here Again." Well, Barbra, that's why I do listen to it. It was live and raw and dangerous.
4. Wynonna. After the Naomi-ectomy, this was her first solo album. I'm a huge fan of Wynonna's and I think she can sing anything--country, rock, and R&B. When "What It Takes" is blaring on my walkman, I get across Central Park in half the time; I can only imagine how fast it could make me build a raft to get off that desert island and back to the Upper West Side.
5. My very own upcoming CD, Caruso LIVE, recorded at Arci's Place with Billy Stritch on piano. I'm sure that my shameless, self-aggrandizing qualities would not be swept away with the Vuitton luggage. Also, I'd need something to barter with the natives. And everyone knows natives can't get enough cabaret!
WHAT CDs DO YOU NEED FOR SURVIVAL?
(Upcoming in Pete 'n Keeley)
1. Ella Fitzgerald Live at the Hollywood Bowl. "Mr. Paganini" makes me crazy!
2. Nancy Griffith: The MCA Retrospective. She's never had a big hit in the U.S., but she's such a great writer. She's also from Texas, so I feel a sort of a kinship there.
3. Frank Sinatra's Only The Lonely. It's only the most depressing record ever made. He recorded it after Ava Gardner dumped him, so he sang nothing but sad ballads. I love it!
4. Anything by Maria McKee! She was with a group called "Lone Justice" in the '80s, then broke away and recorded solo records for Geffen Records. She's a great rock and roll singer, and a really fabulous songwriter. I used to sing a song she wrote called "Wheels." As far as I know, she's kind of disappeared in the past few years, but I sure listen to her old albums a lot.
5. Bette Midler: Live at Last. This record really influenced me to want to perform live. It's like the Bible as far as the way a good show is structured, too. Whenever we plan a new show, I go back and study the way Bette's show was laid out. It's genius!
(Appearing in Forbidden Broadway 2001: A Spoof Odyssey, opening October 18)
I was so nervous about doing this, so I called a friend of mine to ask what cool CDs to mention. He said I should just be honest and admit that I dig Wilson-Phillips and Richard Marx. Don't think I don't own those CDs. I will update my favorites for you, though:
1. If I could take all my Shawn Colvin tapes, I'd be happy. Fat City is my favorite.
2. Allison Krauss is amazing, so I'd want to take her brand new CD, Forget About It
3. Another Woman in Love by Maureen McGovern is fantastic, with Mike Renzi on piano.
4. I love choral music, so I'd have to take something by The Cambridge Singers. There's an English composer named John Rutter who runs this SATB choir, and they sing madrigals and music from every century. It's sacred and non-sacred. When I listen to their beautiful music, it's the closest I get to God!
5. I'm kind of embarrassed to say I would want my Britney Spears CD. It's great treadmill music. I used to not like her at all; I thought she was kind of a twit. But lately, I have to say, she's really won me over. It was one of those All-Access concerts on TV that did it. She was so cute, and she had a tanning bed in her trailer! I thought that was the coolest thing; if I had that kind of money, I'd have one, too. Plus, she gave her mom a million dollars last year just to say "thank you." Britney is just a normal gal who happens to have 50 million dollars.
(Currently at Arci's Place, through September 2)
I must say that, although I'm not too thrilled at the idea of being stranded, the desert island idea sounds good to me. Since I live in New York City, I'm not even sure I'd need music playing; I'd just love listening to the sea and the turf and the birds. That being said, there are a few CDs I love:
1. I'd want to have George Winston's Forest, which is a meandering, low-key, relaxing type of CD. David Benoit's American Landscape would be great, too.
2. Anything by Ella Fitzgerald would be wonderful! I have a 2-CD collection of Ella with Chick Webb that I adore. Or the collection of Ella, Sarah Vaughn, and Dinah Washington.
3. I love Respighi's "Pines of Rome." It's classical and gorgeous and wonderful. If you saw Fantasia 2000, it's the piece they used for the whales. It's my new favorite.
4. I'd have to have some kind of turn-it-up-really-loud wiggle music; maybe Eric Clapton's Pilgrim or anything by Lenny Kravitz.
5. As silly as it sounds, I'd want one of those boy groups with me. Backstreet Boys' Millenium or their very first CD would be great.
imPerfect Chemistry, opening August 24 at the Minetta Lane Theater
I resent the limitations of this question. I have some old 78s of Ella Fitzgerald, but I guess I can't bring them because they're not on CD. My victrola doesn't travel well enough for you people, I guess. HOWEVER, the following is a list of CDs I could not live without:
1. Martin Short singing the soundtrack to Eyes Wide Shut.
2. Jesus Christ Superstar, because I'm a huge Sondheim fan.
3. A CD lens cleaner.
4. Judy Garland at Carnegie Hall, because I'm straight.
5. Roberta Flack's Chapter 2, because it's the best album ever made.
Click here to visit Jim Caruso's website.