“What are the two most important things to know in the world? One is to be nice to other people. Two, the greatest songwriter of modern times is Bob Dylan. That’s all you need to know in life.”
– David Letterman
When I first heard the news, I was leery. “Bob Dylan to appear on David Letterman’s second to last episode.” I’m a huge Bob Dylan fan (the blog is named after him, after all), but I’ve not been much of a fan of his work over the past decade. Whether it be the debacle that was his Grammy performance at the 2011 Grammy Awards or the joke of a Christmas album that he released in 2009, Dylan’s old age is showing in his most recent efforts.
With the finale of “LOST” approaching us this Sunday, I decided I’d take a moment to look at the role music has played in the show. Not the orchestration, as fantastic as it is, rather the use of popular music through the past six seasons. I understand that many of the song choices are due to their thematic connection, but I’m going to ignore those links altogether and judge the characters’ music choices on face value with one question in mind: who on the island has the best taste in music. I’ve had this question in my mind since I began viewing the show back in January. That’s right: six seasons in five months. I’m not proud of this fact, but I’m glad I went all in on this ground-breaking show.
10. Desmond Hume
The song that everyone associates with Desmond is of course Mama Cass Elliot’s “Make Your Own Kind of Music.” This is due to the fact that when we first met him he was blaring this song in The Hatch. Now, I understand that Desmond’s music choices were limited to only the stack of records kept in his little bunker, but to play this corn-ball garbage in the morning while doing dishes and sit-ups is a bit suspect. Even when not stuck in the hatch his taste blows. While lying in bed in another life (brotha!) he is listening to Sarah McLachlan’s “Building a Mystery”. What a romantic hack! Desmond doesn’t make this list because he has the tenth best taste in music, rather his taste is the worst.
9. John Locke
John always meant well. No one can deny this. He was a romantic at heart and was foolish enough to think things happen for a reason. Hence, his music choice while eating breakfast with Helen is George Jone’s “I’ll Share My World With You”, when we all know that he won’t (unless it’s an alternate future of course). George Jones fits the classic country mold, although he seems a bit forced at times. John redeems himself in another episode with a song that seems more fitting for the perpetual loser. While driving in his old rusty truck, John listens to Muddy Water’s “I Feel Like Going Home”. Not only do the blues perfectly portray the turmoil that Locke must endure, but throughout the show he truly is looking to go home. Unfortunately, not even the island is John’s home sweet home. Poor fella.
8. Kate Austin
Kate is a one trick pony when it comes to her music choices, or I should say music choice. Patsy Cline, Patsy Cline, Patsy Cline: that’s all Kate is ever listening to in any flashback or flash-forward, regardless of what alternate future or past is taking place. We get the connection writers, you don’t need to shove it into our earholes. Yes, Kate often goes “Walking After Midnight” like a scavenger, and “She’s Got You”, whether that you is in reference to Jack or Sawyer. I never understood Kate’s attraction to Sawyer and his snake-skin salesman ways, but then again, this is the same girl who tried stealing a New Kids On the Block lunch box. Fortunately for Kate, I’ll forgive her bad choices in life due to her good ones. Jack Shepherd is the man, and I have to admit that I’ve got a soft spot for old Patsy and her heart-wrenching tales. I just wish the girl would give Mrs. Cline a break once in a while (even If that means a quick listen to “Hangin’ Tough”).
7. James “Sawyer” Ford
Sawyer is known for his wise-cracks and pop-culture references, and this of course means a few music based comments like calling Frank “Kenny Rogers” or mentioning Jimmy Buffet’s “Coconut Telegraph”. But none of his comments seem to delve deep into the music world like his allusions to old TV shows and movies. We didn’t get much of a sense of Sawyer’s music taste until this final season when we find him hiding in one of the old Dharma cabins listening to Iggy and the Stooge’s “Search and Destroy”. What better song to listen to when you’re seeking revenge for the death of your girlfriend? But then of course, ol’ Sawyer lost huge points, at least in my book. When the smoke monster first flies by the house Sawyer is listening to “Search and Dstroy” inside. Old Smokey continues on his way, talks with Richard for 10 minutes, and then finally decides to return to visit Sawyer. When he returns, the same song is playing. This would mean that James “Sawyer” Ford listened to the song, got up, moved the needle on the LP back to the same song, and listened to it several more times. Don’t get me wrong, “Search and Destroy” is a great pop-punk song, but the album it’s featured on, “Raw Power”, is even more incredible. I’ll give Sawyer credit for listening to The Stooges, but no one should ever start “Raw Power” and not listen to it straight through. It’s sacrilege. (I do have to point out that “Search and Destroy” is actually about the Smoke Monster/John Locke, both quintessentially being the “forgotten boy”).
This clip is in Spanish, but you get the point:
6. Charlie Pace
You would think the rock star on the island would be the shoe-in for best music taste. Not so fast my friend. Charlie’s Brit-band Drive Shaft was simply a one-hit-wonder, and “You All Everybody” is the type of musical fare you would hear at the beginning of a Peter Engel Saturday morning TV show like “Saved by the Bell” or “California Dreams”. Anytime Charlie’s meal-ticket began playing, I’d cringe. I would like to blame the utter shitt-iness of the song on his brother Liam, but Charlie was the “talent” of the band, writing all the songs. So why is Charlie ranked sixth if his songwriting was so lacking? He gave glimpses into his music taste on occasion, whether it be singing a Kinks song to pass the time on the island or his “Strawberry Fields Forever” tattoo. Sure, no one can forgive Charlie/Merry for playing Oasis on a street corner, but here at BDWPS we can’t hate on a guy who is also seen at one point wearing a Bob Dylan “Highway 61 Revisited” t-shirt. Bob Dylan Loves Drive Shaft. You heard it here first.
5. Mr. Ecko
I think this is just a sympathy pick. Mr. Ecko was easily my favorite addition to the show, yet the writers had to kill him off before we really got to explore the psyche of this profound character. In one scene you can hear Ecko listening to Femi Kuti’s “Eko Lagos”, a great choice simply due to the song title. Who is Femi Kuti? The son of the great Feli Kuti! Who’s Feli Kuti? Watch your mouth! Basically, Femi Kuti is Nigeria’s version of Sean Lennon if Sean Lennon had talent. Over the years, Femi has explored afro-beat music, pushing his father’s legacy into new directions. The fact that Ecko is listening to this song at a bar may make his placement at number five a bit suspect, but I’d like to believe Mr. Ecko sauntered over to the jukebox to pick this song prior to the start of the scene. Call me a dreamer.
4. Pierre Chang–
You would think of a scientist as being uptight and not having interest in pop music, but Pierre Chang proves that even a scientist can make a little time for Willie Nelson. On a beautiful morning in Dharma-ville, Dr. Chang wakes up and decides that the best way to start the day for his wife and son is to listen to Willie Nelson’s “Shotgun Willie”. This moment is the only glimpse we really get into the minor character Chang’s personal life, but it’s enough for me to deem him a lover of music. At the moment, I can’t think of a better way to start a day than to listen to Willie Nelson.
3. Juliet Burke
We actually only hear Juliet listening to one song, and if I based my decision on this choice alone she would rank near Desmond. While prepping for her book club, she has Petula Clark’s “Downtown” playing loudly on the stereo. She’s listening to the same song when driving with Rachel up to the guardhouse. This song isn’t necessarily horrible, but it isn’t great either. Personally, I can’t hear “Downtown” without thinking of the “Seinfeld” episode where George Constanza tries to unlock the secret of the song. The secret to Juliet’s great taste in music lies in her CD collection. Before putting “Downtown” in the CD player, she fumbles with the Son Volt CD “Okemah and the Melody of Riot”. Not only does Juliet like classic 90s alterna-country, but she then picks up a CD case for the Talking Head’s “Speaking In Tongues”. Son Volt and Talking Heads? Now that’s my kind of girl! The fact that she chose Petula Clark over these two incredible albums is beyond the point. Could they have possibly been Goodwin’s CDs? I won’t entertain the question, God rest his soul.
2. Jack Shephard
Once stuck back in his normal life, Jack realizes he made a huge mistake by leaving the island. He goes through a major depression and is often seen listening to essential early 90s grunge like Nirvana’s “Scentless Apprentice” and The Pixies “Gouge Away”. I can’t imagine my doctor listening to these raw, vicarious grunge tunes, but Jack’s not your average doctor. He’s a perfectionist, and when things don’t go as expected, he lets things fall to pieces, one gouge at a time. I love the fact that the eventual hero of the show (I’m calling it now) is deep down, a broken, emotional wreck.
1. Hugo “Hurley” Reyes
Hugo is the obvious pick here, as much as I tried convincing myself that Jack was the true music fanatic of the island. There are several details that I can’t deny. First off, Hugo is the only person who actually listens to a portable music device while on the island. The fact that a lottery winner is listening to a Disc-Man says a lot about Hugo’s hipster leanings. Instead of going the digital route with an MP3 player, Hugo still clings to his physical media. Heck, his first stop after winning the lottery is the record store! And while there, he asks the clerk to go to a Hold Steady show with him. Hurley’s taste in music runs the gamut, ranging from James Brown to Damien Rice. But the best insight into Hurley’s knowledge of music lies in his references. For example, when talking to Mrs. Trahn, his servent, he calls her “Lady Tron”, an obscure music reference to the Roxy Music song of the same title. This comment alone demonstrates a true grasp of music history (and music snobbery at that). Hugo may not have any Femi Kuti or Pixies in his record collection, but his consistent display of musical insight is unchallenged by any other castaway of Oceanic Flight 815. His ability to talk to dead people may come in useful after all; “Jimi, are you out there?”
A classic Hugo moment; his Disc-Man’s batteries finally die: