Got an email from my friend Chip Namias. I met Namias when he was media director for the Houston Oilers. Namias commanded the press box at the Astrodome like Sinatra at the Sands Hotel. He put the "beat" in beat writer. He was ruthless and respected.
No sportswriter, not even the "General" John McClain, dared take a bite of fried chicken in the media dining room — unless Namias said it was okay. Namias eventually moved to Los Angeles; he's a big deal in the movie publicity business.
Namias wrote: "I went to an event at the Grammy Museum last month honoring Clive Davis. With his legendary musical career spanning so many genres, during the Q&A, I asked him, if he could only bring two albums to a desert island, what would they be?
His answer: Simon and Garfunkel’s Greatest Hits and The Best of The Mamas and the Papas."
Davis is indeed a legend in the recording industry. He was instrumental in the careers of dozens of superstars, including Whitney Houston, Rod Stewart, Alicia Keys, Christina Aguilera, Janis Joplin, Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen, Kelly Clarkson, Aerosmith, and many, many more.
But with all due respect, what does he know about music? He's certainly wrong about picking desert island albums.
The obvious answers (mine): the Beatles' legendary album, 1, and Creedence Clearwater Revival's 20 Greatest Hits.
Then again, I could be wrong, too. So I asked some Houston A-Listers: If you were going to a desert island (or in a couple of these cases, prison), which two albums would you take with you?
SportsMap 94.1 FM talk host Charlie Pallilo: "I'm bringing Billy Joel's Greatest Hits Volumes I & II — terrific range of style, and a Long Island guy to boot. Then I'd take Beatles 1. It's all the Beatles' Number One hits, maximizing content."
ABC-13 anchor Gina Gaston: "I'd bring Stevie Wonder's Songs in the Key of Life, because I can sing along with every song on the album. And, I'd bring Kirk Franklin's God's Property to keep my spirits and faith uplifted."
Houston Rockets play-by-play announcer Bill Worrell: "Best of the Temptations: My favorite group in my early years — high school and college. In 1973, Coach Darrell Royal introduced me to Willie Nelson, who had moved from Nashville to Austin. Willie asked Coach and me if we wanted to hear him record an album the next afternoon. The album was Phases and Stages; I was hooked. It's still my favorite Willie album, out of hundreds. He is one of the most influential writers and singers of our generation."
Harris County Judge Ed Emmett: "Album 1700 by Peter, Paul and Mary, and Les Miserables — 10th Anniversary Concert in London. Those are the albums that first came to mind."
Channel 2 anchor Rachel MacNeill: "My two albums would have to be Bob Marley's Legend, and Lionel Richie's Can't Slow Down. Legend because I'm Jamaican, which means I'm never too far from my island nation. Every song helps me visualize home, soothing me on even the most stressful days. I picked Lionel Richie because I think he's one of the greatest singer-songwriters of all time. The songs on Can't Slow Down bring back so many happy childhood memories. I'm biased, though. My son's name is Lionel, so I guess that makes me a super fan."
Hollywood mogul Chip Namias: "In my opinion, Rubber Soul by the Beatles is, track for track, the greatest album of all time. I never get tired of listening to it. My second pick would be Good Vibrations: Thirty Years of the Beach Boys. If you want to feel happy, upbeat, and thinking about summer, what else would you need?"
Houston Chronicle football writer John McClain: “I hate to agree with Chip [Namias] on anything, but he’s right about Rubber Soul. The Beatles shaped my youth. As for the White Album, I traded my collection of baseball cards to my younger brother for it. Gave him Mantle and Mays rookie cards, among many others, for "Rocky Raccoon," and "Why Don’t We Do It In the Road?" It was worth it at the time. Now? Well, I’d have a valuable baseball card collection worth lots of money."
Houston Astros President Reid Ryan: "U2's Joshua Tree, because that's the band that reminds me most of my high school and college days, and they're one of the world's best. Also George Strait's 50 Number Ones because it reminds me of Texas. It's got a lot of songs and they're all great."
Kenny & Ziggy's owner Ziggy Gruber: "The Best of Aaron Lebedeff. He was famous for the song, 'Roumania Roumania.' He was one of the best Yiddish stage artists ever. When I listen to his music, it brings out my ethnic side — pastrami sandwich also accomplishes this. My other album would be Romanian Rhapsody No. 1, composed by George Enescu, performed by the London Philharmonic. I love this piece, especially when I'm cooking."
Houston Chronicle columnist Lisa Falkenberg: "It's impossible to choose, but for the purposes of your cruel little hypothetical, I would say Lucinda Williams' West, and Bob Dylan's Blonde on Blonde. What does it say about me, that the only two albums I would ever hear again for the rest of my life are sung by people who can't sing? Maybe that I'm a writer."
Channel 2 anchor Owen Conflenti: "In these scenarios, I like to go with soundtracks for the variety. I would take the soundtracks to Forrest Gump and The Big Lebowski. If soundtracks are off limits, then I choose Nas' Illmatic and Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon."
ESPN 97.5 host Del Olaleye: "The Marshall Mathers LP from Eminem. I rode the bus to school in high school, and I listened to that album for about a year straight during my junior year. It was the first album I could quote lyrics from multiple songs. And Mothership, from Dance Gavin Dance. They're my favorite band at the moment. I saw them at Warehouse Live recently, and they performed the entire album, and it was fantastic. I listen to the album every day on the way to work."
Channel 13 anchor Tom Koch: "They’d have to be the Beatles' White Album and my wedding album. The White Album, because I love it and think it’s one of their most creative — 30 incredible songs. Plus you get vocals from all four Beatles and their relatives: Yoko Ono, Pattie Harrison, and Maureen Starkey. And, added bonus, you can use the bright, white album as a reflective shield to alert passing boats and planes. My wedding album because it’s one of a kind, filled with love — and saying this will get me brownie points with my lovely wife."
Which two albums would you absolutely need on a desert island? Let me know in the comments, or on Twitter.