Earlier this year, my friend Claire introduced me to a radio program out of her native UK titled, Desert Island Discs. The show features people from all walks of life discussing eight songs they couldn’t live without if stranded alone on an island.
Listening to the program during a recent ride to Joshua Tree National Park got me thinking about what those songs would be for me. Music is such a huge component of my life, and has provided an amazing score to some incredible moments in my 29 years, as well as some embarrassingly low ones.
Over the next couple of months I will be unveiling my own desert island discs, starting today with Sigur Rós. Trying to select just one song from the ethereal and atmospheric band is difficult because of the varying emotions their music evokes.
“Festival” is an uplifting and marvelous piece that brings out my optimistic and jubilant nature, while “Njósnavélin” taps into the more introspective side of my personality. Then there’s “Vaka”, which I play every morning before getting out of bed. Still, if there’s one song of Sigur’s that I could listen to over and over again, it would be “Popplagið.”
The song, no matter how many times I play it, immediately engages me spiritually as soon as the opening guitar rifts are heard. From there, it’s an intense build up of emotion with a masterful climax that repeatedly reverberates throughout my being long. Jónsi’s (the band’s lead singer) repetitive versus and angelic voice make the song even more otherworldly … as if listening to a garageband jamming inside some idyllic little quaint home tucked away in heaven.
The song is performed in “Hopelandic”, a made up language that leaves the music up to listener interpretation … so what you hear, and what I hear may be completely different. For me the track is a commentary on our lives. A slow beginning, with things becoming increasingly more interesting as we grow older, until our cycle reaches its finality and we say goodbye. It all sounds fucking crazy, but to me, makes perfect sense which is why this song is on my list.