• Image about Phil Freeman

Pick just one album for the rest of your life. Tricky choice? Imagine how hard it is for a music critic to choose.


Songs have not remained the same since 1978, when music critic Greil Marcus asked a bevy of rock writers to answer this question: "What one rock-and-roll album would you take to a desert island?" The result of that query was Stranded: Rock and Roll for a Desert Island (Da Capo), the collection of the writers' responses. Nearly 30 years later, Phil Freeman, 35, a music critic and the managing editor of Global Rhythm, decided it was time to update the "sacred text." His collection of essays by critics - with a foreword by Marcus - is Marooned: The Next Generation of Desert Island Discs (Da Capo). The late '70s "was an entirely different world," says Freeman. "Punk was a thing that had come and gone. There was no such thing as rap. Disco was still a big thing. Most of what we listen to today barely existed. Even heavy metal - all there was was Led Zeppelin, maybe the first Van Halen album, and Black Sabbath." We talked to Freeman about his musical tastes, the world of music writers, and his growing interest in the music of Dionne Warwick.

So we'll understand where you're coming from, what kind of music do you favor? Ever since I was a kid, I've been into heavy metal. When I started picking my own music, around 12, the first record I ever talked my dad into buying for me was by Judas Priest. When I was about 15, I started listening to jazz as well. I was going through one of those periods when I trusted Rolling Stone. They did this big issue that was on the greatest albums of the last 20 years or something. Two of them were by Miles Davis, so I went out and bought those two albums. Kind of Blue was just really beautiful. The melodies he was playing stuck in my head immediately, so I just started exploring jazz. The dichotomy between metal and jazz has pretty much fueled my music listening ever since.

I know it's unfair to ask you to generalize, but how would you describe music writers as a whole? There's a famous quote from Hunter Thompson, who said a photograph of the top 10 political journalists on any given day would be a monument to human ugliness. That goes double for music critics. They are largely prematurely balding, prematurely overweight, poorly dressed geeks. I've been in a room with tons of them.