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In the Mix

Apr 01, 2020 04:58PM ● By Paul Cotruvo

Paul Cotruvo

In the Mix

Music for Quarantine


I was planning on writing a whole different article this month, but due to the horrible news of the coronavirus, I thought I would go in a different direction and try to lighten things up. Since we are all self-quarantined, I’m reminded of that old premise, if I was on a deserted island and could only bring 10 albums, what would they be and why? For years I have given this much thought -- not that I was planning to be stuck on a desert island or in my home -- but it raises a great question of what makes a great album? For me this means it always sounds fresh every time you listen to it, you always discover something new that you didn’t hear before, or something about it puts you in a place of reflection. Plus, it’s an album that I still listen to today.


There is no hesitation about what my choices for 10 must have albums would be:

1)       Joni Mitchell, Hejira. This album was written while she was driving across country and completely captures what Joni calls, “The sweet loneliness of solitary travel." Amazing musicianship, including Jaco Pastorius on fretless bass. I have not stopped listening to this record since 1976.

2)       George Harrison, All Things Must Pass. Recorded and released in 1970, it was Harrison's first solo work after the break-up of the Beatles. Not only is it an album of amazing songs but his slide guitar work is out front and perfect.

3)       John Lennon, Plastic Ono Band. Another gem released in 1970, Lennon’s extremely personal and raw production is his finest solo work. If you have never heard this album, find a quiet place and listen to a man revealing his inner soul. Genius.

4)       Pat Metheny Group (also known as the white album). This jazz fusion record release from 1978 not only features Pat on some incredible guitar playing but Lyle Mays’ keyboard work is simply inspiring. When I need some quiet moments, this is the one.

5)       Bruce Springsteen, Born to Run. This album changed my life. It is Bob Dylan meets Phil Specter in New Jersey. One word - epic!

6)       Grateful Dead, Live Dead. If you were going to sum up San Francisco in 1969, this would be the album. Free form improvisations recorded at the Fillmore West. The one contains “Dark Star.”

7)       Jefferson Airplane, Volunteers. You can see there is a theme to my taste as I grew up to the San Francisco scene. Many of the songs on this classic are still relevant today.

8)       Bob Dylan, The Times They Are A Changing. Dylan at his best. Young, angry and ready to change the world with songs concerning issues such as racism, poverty, and social change.

9)       The Who, Who’s Next. Pete Townshend wanted an album to follow up the classic “Tommy,” so he created “Lifehouse,” but due to too many complex issues, they scrapped the project and released some of the songs from that project, which just happened to be their masterpiece. From “Baba O’Riley” to “Won’t get Fooled Again,” this is classic rock.

10)Rolling Stones, Sticky Fingers. The Stones at their best. Raw rock ‘n’ roll and blues.

11)Rolling Stones, Sticky Fingers. The Stones at their best. Raw rock ‘n’ roll and blues.

12)Oh yeah, I know I said 10, but it’s my island and I am bringing all my Beatles records. After all, it’s the Beatles!


Hope you can find music that will help you get you through these uncertain days. One thing I know, music will save us! Speaking of uncertainty, I will optimistically still put out a Paul’s Picks list below, but it looks like April events may be cancelled. Visit all local venue websites for further information.


Also, I was going to announce that, starting in April, Angela Warren and I want to start a “Writer’s Night” on Wednesdays at WiseGirl in Pleasant Hill. The concept is to try and recreate Nashville’s “Bluebird Café” atmosphere in our area. There are very few places for singer-songwriters to play their original songs, and it’s been a long time coming. So, keep an eye out for the official starting date on the WiseGirl website,


Quote of the month:

“The best music is essentially there to provide you something to face the world with.” ~~ Bruce Springsteen