March/April “On My Deathbed” winner, Danaca Booth, reveals her prize picks. From the Talking Heads to Steve Earle, read Danaca’s thoughts on each pick that helped her win a Martin D-15M guitar. Enter the current “On My Deathbed” Contest for your chance to win a Martin D-28 guitar!
Stop Making Sense – Talking Heads (1984)
If there’s an album that can span life and death, it has to be this classic live offering from the Talking Heads. This one’s steeped in human experiences both common and transcendent: frustration, reflection, boredom, revelation, love, and pain. What more could you want?
There’s Nothing Wrong with Love – Built to Spill (1994)
Doesn’t everybody wish they could sing, “Stay with me until I die, there’s nothing else I wanna try” on their deathbed and mean it? To have no regrets? Honestly, life’s probably too full for many of us to exhaust desire in one life, but I always want to believe Doug Martsch when he sings that line.
‘Til the Medicine Takes – Widespread Panic (1999)
If I was gonna throw a party to celebrate life before death, I’d want this album on that night’s playlist. There’s something about these boys from Georgia that naturally fosters good will and reverence: “We’ve got a party going on, many spirits strong. Ain’t no preacher, just happy to meet ya. Half a bottle ‘neath the bed, keep your spirits fed, my hat’s off to you and you and you!”
In the Air – The Handsome Family (2000)
I was eleven years late to the party on this album, and it’s by far the album that I’ve spent the least time with on this list. But I listened to it straight for days this past fall, and it’s felt old and familiar and necessary ever since: “In the air, someday I will live in the air.”
The Size of Planets – Haley Bonar (2002)
I’ve been listening to this album since in came out, and I’m certain I’ll never, ever, tire of it. If there are angels, they will sound like Haley Bonar. Also, I do believe she plays the very guitar being given away – bonus!
Our Endless Numbered Days – Iron and Wine (2004)
While significantly more stripped down than more recent Iron and Wine albums, this one has layers that have kept me listening and interested for years. This album is just beautiful.
A Blessing and a Curse – Drive-by Truckers (2006)
I love the honesty of all the Truckers’ songwriters, from formations past to present. As the album title suggests, this recording shows one of my all-time favorite bands grappling with a tension between good and bad that colors so many lives at one time or another, but which might sound like whining or naval gazing in the hands of less-skilled songwriters than DBT.
The Revolution Starts…Now – Steve Earle (2007)
Listening to Steve Earle’s music from the past decade or so is like witnessing a moral pilgrimage. Expanding from strict observations of the world as it is, this album captures the seeker’s vision of a different way the world could be: “all our hopes had come to be, and the people gathered. And they all brought what they could, and nobody went out.” A deathbed top ten needs a moral voice, and a prophecy or two; Earle’s my pick for the job.
We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank – Modest Mouse (2007)
I struggled with which Modest Mouse album to include, because there had to be one. My first instinct was the Lonesome Crowded West – for sheer awesomeness and out of a sense of loyalty to their earlier sound. But, the truth is I love the carnival-rock sound of their most recent full-length in a different but equally great way. Brock’s naturalist’s take on an ancient metaphor (“ashes to ashes, dust to dust”) in Parting of the Sensory (“someday you will die somehow and something’s gonna steal your carbon”) demanded inclusion on this list.
The Life of the World to Come – The Mountain Goats (2009)
The top 20 albums I couldn’t live or die without would probably include about ten Mountain Goats albums. But, contest parameters being what they are, I had to pick the cast of characters in The Life of the World to Come for final company, because they all seem to have an eye toward the afterlife. Their sense of impending doom may make them all a bit paranoid, but it also lends weight to their lives and somehow, like so many of Darnielle’s stories, leaves me feeling inexplicably thankful and hopeful.