What Bill Gates would want on a desert island

I daydream about having some small portion of Bill Gates’ fortune (say, a billion after taxes): I think about what I would do first with the money, how I would apportion the lion’s share of it among my kids and grandkids immediately so that they were provided for, how I would arrange for people to handle the remainder so that I would never have to think about the money again (which to me would be the point of having a lot of money — I hate thinking about the stuff — which is why I’m not the kind of guy to MAKE a lot of money), and so forth.

Here’s what Bill Gates daydreams about:

I generally think of people like the slackers at Championship Vinyl spending time musing about their Top Five Desert Island tracks, so it’s interesting to see what comes up when an overachiever like Gates does the same. Particularly since it involves speculating about a situation in which his money would do him no good. Think about it: Did it help Mr. Howell?

Obviously, he’s a guy who doesn’t approach music quite the way we do. We like a song, we listen to it on YouTube, create a Pandora station around it, download it, or if we’re really retro, buy a CD (or if we’re audio snobs, vinyl). Bill Gates does this:

Music also played a special role in Melinda’s and my wedding. She is a big Willie Nelson fan, and I surprised her by hiring him to play after our rehearsal dinner. I’ll never forget dancing with her as he played “Blue Skies”—it was magical….

That Tweet was a bit of a bait-and-switch. I went to the link, and found that I would have to go listen to the whole BBC show (the one that inspired all those lists in “High Fidelity”) to learn what his picks were. Fortunately, the Financial Times saved me the trouble:

  • David Bowie & Queen, “Under Pressure”
  • Willie Nelson, “Blue Skies”
  • Ed Sheeran, “Sing”
  • The Jimi Hendrix Experience, “Are You Experienced?”
  • U2, “One”
  • The Beatles, “Two of Us”
  • Rodgers & Hammerstein, “How Can Love Survive?” (from “The Sound of Music”)
  • Lin-Manuel Miranda and the Broadway cast of Hamilton, “My Shot”

Not what I would have picked. But then, if I were stranded on a desert island, picking a soundtrack would be sort of low on my hierarchy of concerns…



4 thoughts on “What Bill Gates would want on a desert island

  1. Bryan Caskey

    Rodgers & Hammerstein, “How Can Love Survive?” (from “The Sound of Music”)

    I’m sorry…what?

    I looked at this item and thought: I’ve seen The Sound of Music at least a dozen times, and I can’t place this song! Am I going crazy?

    I googled it, and it turns out that I’m not crazy (At least in this respect). This song isn’t in the movie with Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer. Yeah, yeah, yeah, it was in the original musical. To which I say…harrumph.

    If the song were any good, Rodgers & Hammerstein would have included it in the movie. They were probably sitting around the film studio thinking, “Look, the boys at the studio say we’ve got to cut this film down to the right time. What can we cut? Oh yeah, this stupid song we wrote for Max and the Baroness can go; they’re secondary characters anyway.”

    The rest of the list is meh, at best, but that one song is just a non-starter with me.

    If you pick a song from The Sound of Music, you go strong. Don’t bring the weak stuff that was only in the musical.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      I had the exact same reaction to that one.

      But… To a music snob like Barry in “High Fidelity,” that’s the kind of thing you want to pick to show your erudition — something that you have to be a real aficionado to know about.

      Not that Barry would respect a show tune of any kind making the list, but he’d at least applaud the obscurity…

  2. Bill

    ‘This is hell, this is hell, this is hell

    ‘My Favorite Things’ are playing again and again
    But it’s by Julie Andrews and not by John Coltrane’

    Elvis Costello

Comments are closed.