1,000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die: Stream a Huge Playlist of Songs Based on the Bestselling Book

love supreme list of 1000 recordings

Image by Hayeur­JF, via Flickr Com­mons

Though the buri­als of ancient Egypt­ian rulers offer at least one notable excep­tion, near­ly all the world’s reli­gions have agreed on one thing—if one thing only: you can’t take your stuff with you. You can leave it to the local church, mosque, or syn­a­gogue, your heirs, a char­i­ty of your choice, your dog; but your mate­r­i­al pos­ses­sions will not go wher­ev­er you might when it’s over.

How­ev­er, should con­scious­ness some­how sur­vive the body, or get uploaded to a new one in some sci-fi future, per­haps you can take with you the expe­ri­ences, mem­o­ries, sen­sa­tions, and ideas you’ve accu­mu­lat­ed over a life­time. And if that’s the case, we should all be greedy for knowl­edge and expe­ri­ence rather than prop­er­ty and con­sumer goods. And the “1,000… Before You Die” series of books, might be con­sid­ered guides to curat­ing your after­life.

The series has rec­om­mend­ed 1,000 places to see, 1,000 foods to eat, and, in 2012, 1,000 record­ings to hear before you dent the buck­et. Musi­cian and crit­ic Tom Moon, author of 1,000 Record­ings to Hear Before You Die, has cre­at­ed a list that ranges far and wide, leav­ing seem­ing­ly no genre, region, or peri­od out: from gang­ster rap, to opera, to krautrock, to coun­try, to met­al, to blues, to Zim­bab­wean folk, to… well, you name it, it’s prob­a­bly in there some­where.

For all the songs, artists, and albums I might have added to my own ver­sion of such a list, I was pleas­ant­ly sur­prised to find on Moon’s such indie clas­sics as Bon­nie “Prince” Billy’s haunt­ing I See a Dark­ness, hard­core mas­ter­pieces as Bad Brains’ i against i, and sem­i­nal elec­tron­i­ca as Aphex Twin’s Select­ed Ambi­ent Works. These less well-known record­ings sit next to those of John Coltrane (see A Love Supreme fea­tured above), Mar­i­an Ander­son, Son House, Pat­sy Cline, The Bea­t­les, Bach, Brahms, and vir­tu­al­ly any­one else you might think of, and dozens more you would­n’t.

One would have a very hard time mak­ing a case that Moon has any par­tic­u­lar bias against one form of music or anoth­er. (See the com­plete list here, and browse by genre, title, or artist at the 1,000 Record­ings web­site, where you can read Moon’s com­men­tary on each selec­tion.) When it came to select­ing songs or albums from artists with embar­rass­ing­ly rich cat­a­logs, Moon told NPR that he went with his gut. “I didn’t want to have a stan­dard cri­te­ria,” he said, “With­in any giv­en artist, you could go 10 dif­fer­ent direc­tions.” Agree or dis­agree with his choic­es, but mar­vel at his breadth and inclu­sive­ness.

In the past, it would have tak­en you a life­time just to track down all of these record­ings, much less find time to lis­ten to all of them. Now, you can hear 793 tracks from Moon’s 1,000 picks in the Spo­ti­fy playlist above. (Brought to us by Ulysses Clas­si­cal; down­load Spo­ti­fy here if you need it). Spend the rest of your life not only mulling them over, but dis­cov­er­ing 1,000s more. Despite the title’s ref­er­ence to mor­tal­i­ty, and my some­what face­tious intro­duc­tion, Moon real­ly means his “Listener’s Life List,” as he calls it, to be a guide for living—and for becom­ing immersed in music in a pro­found­ly expan­sive way. (For this same pur­pose, I also thor­ough­ly endorse The Guardian’s series “1,000 Albums to Hear Before You Die,” and its read­er-sourced adden­da. If any­one cares to turn the Guardian list into a Spo­ti­fy playlist, we’ll fea­ture it here too.)

As Moon sum­ma­rizes his intent, “the more you love music, the more music you love.”

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Down­load Free Music from 150+ Clas­si­cal Com­posers, Cour­tesy of Musopen.org

1200 Years of Women Com­posers: A Free 78-Hour Music Playlist That Takes You From Medieval Times to Now

Music from Star Wars, Kubrick, Scors­ese & Tim Bur­ton Films Played by the Prague Phil­har­mon­ic Orches­tra: Stream Full Albums

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

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Comments (5)
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    josh jones toca temas que me intere­san mucho y coin­ci­do con él. espero seguir leyén­do­lo e infor­mán­dome por mucho tiem­po. Mis salu­dos y agradec­imien­to JOSH!
    DR. ROBERTO TULLETT (músi­co de jazz)

  • Andrea says:

    This link puz­zles me; Spo­ti­fy is Open Cul­ture?

  • ana says:

    Great ques­tion Andrea. Real­ly, open­cul­ture? Spo­ti­fy?

  • Phil Austin says:

    I’ve actu­al­ly put togeth­er two sep­a­rate pub­lic playlists with as many of the full albums/recordings that I could find on Spo­ti­fy.

    Playlists have 9,159 tracks and 4,703 tracks respec­tive­ly. If you search 1000 record­ings, or my user name (Phil Austin) you should find them.

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