My Tribute to "High Fidelity"

Earlier this year, I received a surprising email from a potential client. I wasn’t surprised to receive the email – that happens frequently, and I knew this one was coming – but by what he asked me. In addition to the usual questions about areas of expertise, rates, and availability, he wanted to know which five songs I would bring with me if I were trapped on a desert island.

Whether the question was appropriate or not, I couldn’t resist! It felt like something right out of High Fidelity, one of my favourite books of all time. I liked the movie too – how could I not enjoy a movie starring John Cusack, when he still played sensitive nice guys, and featuring Jack Black’s excellent rendition of Let’s Get it On? – but it didn’t captivate me in quite the same way.

If you haven’t read the book or seen the movie, the main character creates all kinds of top five lists, and since the main character works in a record store, many of those lists are about music. I don’t remember any of them, so if you’re intrigued, you’ll have to check it out for yourself. In the meantime, you can amuse yourself by reading the list I sent to my client:

My Top Five Desert Island Songs

1. Five Days in May by Blue Rodeo

Since Blue Rodeo is my favourite band, they obviously had to be on the list, but choosing a song was a bit harder. I picked this one because it’s the one that made me fall in love with them. I was working at a job I hated, but I had my own office and was able to have a radio on my desk, and noticed that every time this song came on, I had a total mood change. Watch the video and I think you’ll see why:

(from Five Days in July, 1994)

2. Stand by Me by John Lennon

A classic song by a classic artist, Scott and I chose this for our first dance at our wedding, and I think we’ve done a pretty good job of living up to it.

first dance

(from Rock ‘N’ Roll, 1975)

3. Prayer ’94 by Bon Jovi

As a general rule, I’m the total opposite of an impulse shopper, but for this song, I made an exception. The first time we heard this slowed down, acoustic version of Livin’ on a Prayer, Scott and I were in Music World, and there was no way I was leaving the store without a copy.

(from Cross Road, 1994)

4. I’d Rather Go Blind by Etta James and Dr. John

Scott and I borrowed a video from the public library a number of years ago and loved the entire show, but were especially blown away by Etta James and Dr. John performing I’d Rather Go Blind. It was so moving that we both had tears running down our faces!

(from B.B. King & Friends: A Night of Blistering Blues, 1987)

5. Maybe I’m Amazed by Paul McCartney

This song has been one of my favourites for longer than any of the others. It was almost a toss-up whether I’d choose the original version or the Faces’ 1971 cover but, as much as I adore Rod Stewart’s raspy voice, I decided that Sir Paul’s soothing tones were more suited to repeated listening for an indefinite period.

(from McCartney, 1970)

Just a few comments, before closing:

  1. You can probably find all of these songs on YouTube, but I’ve only included the “official” uploads, since unauthorized ones are apt to be taken down at any time.
  2. I only sent the client my Top Five list, not the reasons for my choices. I may send him a link to this post though, since he loved my list and the work I did for him.
  3. If you’re wondering what the photo at the top has to do with anything, it was the closest I could come to a desert island. It’s not an island at all, but a lovely beach I visited on the South Shore of Nova Scotia in 2007.

Now it’s your turn! What are YOUR Top Five Desert Island Songs?


  1. I love this list of songs Janet! Since I’m in the music business, I usually put that question on inquiries to potential hires for fun. And your list sure is fun.

    My list would be something like this:
    Rite of spring – Igor Stravinsky
    Blue Sky Allman Bros
    No Hair – Professor Longhair
    Andy – Frank Zappa
    The entire album So – Peter Gabriel

    Yet only 5 songs in a world filled w great music is so limiting isn’t it tho?

  2. Great choices! We just got Sirius/XM radio in our car for long road trips and were lniseitng to the 90s station all the way home on Monday. My favorites are “No Rain” by Blind Melon, anything by No Doubt or STP or Dave Matthews, and “Pepper” by Butthole Surfers. :)-Lisa

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