Photo by: The Bureau of Land Management — https://www.flickr.com/photos/91981596@N06/15924490113

The Wilderness Survival Music List

Or, Being Your Own DJ In Solitude

Miguel de Cervantes famously said: ”To be prepared is half the victory”.

John A. Logan said: “Music’s the medicine of the mind.”

If by unfortunate (or otherwise) circumstance you found yourself stranded in the wilderness, what essentials would you require to survive?

The list could be as extensive or as minimalist as your needs and experience required. But aside for the basic survival tools, would you also consider a collection of music by which you could listen to, to pass the time and overcome the solitude? Forget for a moment the logistics and technical hurdles of bringing your own music on a device and figuring out how to charge it while off the grid and away from civilization.

Here is my top ten list of albums that I would need to have with me. I’m sure people out there will interpret into and some psychological profile, but please refrain from that. This is the place where I am currently in my life, musically. A year ago, or a year into the future, these choices may have been completely different.

Aside from the luxury of having such music in the middle of nowhere, I would also want to have a stash of coffee, a bottle of my favourite whiskey, and my acoustic guitar. Would there be any better way of passing the time?

But enough of the wilderness romance. Here’s is my top twelve list in no particular order. I have included SongNotes. They’re like footnotes, but for songs and extended reading pleasure:

My Top 12 Wilderness Survival Album List

  • Jeffrey Foucault — Salt As Wolves1
  • Nick Drake — Way To Blue2
  • The Tragically Hip — Fully Completely3
  • Dave Rawlings Machine — Nashville Obsolete4
  • Willie Watson — Folk Songs Volume 15
  • Various Artists — Another Day Another Time, The Music From Inside Llewyn Davis6
  • City and Colour — Sometimes7
  • Eddie Vedder — Into The Wild (Soundtrack)8
  • Lightnin’ Hopkins — (Anything by him, really)9
  • Pete Yorn — Musicforthemorningafter10
  • U2 — Joshua Tree11
  • Beck — Sea Change12

Feel free to share your wilderness music list with me. I’ll be listening. Maybe I’ll create an urban survival music list. Be sure to check out the footnotes below.


  1. Folky, salt-of-the-earth-no-pun-intended acoustic guitar, and meaningful lyrics. Give him a listen. Your soul will thank you for it. ↩︎
  2. Nick Drake passed away ages ago. Only in death did his music achieve a mass audience, and for that I feel a great sadness for him. I’m fortunate to have discovered his music. ↩︎
  3. A Canadian band. The album can be classified as rock and folk-rock. Rock on. ↩︎
  4. Dave Rawlings and Gillian Welch are a singer, song-writing duo. Their carefully crafted songs will stir something within you. Guaranteed. ↩︎
  5. Covers of old-timer folk songs. One man, with an acoustic guitar and a harmonica. ↩︎
  6. The Cohen Brothers-directed movie about a Greenwich Village folk singer in the 60s. Some of the artists listed here I discovered in the documentary. Just watch it. ↩︎
  7. Another Canadian musician. Incredibly deep, personal lyrics with beautiful guitar playing. ↩︎
  8. When in the wild, this becomes essential listening. “Society…you’re a crazy breed…” ↩︎
  9. If the blues can be compared to home cooking, this is it. ↩︎
  10. Pete’s debut album. Folk-rock at its best. ↩︎
  11. Didn’t give a shit about this album or the band when this album was released back when I was in highschool. When I listen to it now it sends shivers down my spine. ↩︎
  12. As per Wikipedia’s description: “The collection includes themes of heartbreak and desolation, solitude and loneliness.” Yup, pretty much sums it up. Perfect fitting for your wilderness sojourn. ↩︎