Desert Island Discs
I made a huge commitment on the weekend. A commitment so big I have not made since I made the choice to move from Medium to Hot on my Nandos order. That was a commitment I instinctively made and I will tell you reader, I have not looked back since. This commitment however took copious amounts of soul-searching, personal examination of character and frantic rifling back through memories. That’s right folks. I chose my 8 DESERT ISLAND DISCS.
For those not familiar with this CRACKING Radio 4 stalwart (and if not, WHY not?! It’s been on since 1942! When the masses were still eating spam, drawing lines on the backs of their legs and making cakes out of powdered egg. DELISH. Go here to listen: bbc.in/eLM844 ),I’ll give you the 411.
You are stranded on a desert island.
You are allowed a copy of The Bible and The Complete Works of Shakespeare. and ONE other book of your choice.
One luxury item (I liked it when John Cleese chose to have Michael Palin dead and stuffed as his luxury item and when Tim Minchin chose a robotic sex doll.)
AND eight pieces of music that have shaped your life and musical tastes. (And presumably something to play them on if we’re gonna get technical about it.)
Whilst I am undecided on the book (apparently the Harry Potter series doesn’t count as one. YES I AM SULKING AND WHINGING ABOUT THIS ) and the luxury item (I have an uneasy feeling that a magnum bottle of gin may be a rash choice) over some drinks at the weekend my family and I each decided on our eight pieces of music. Despite the fact that my housemate tells me my taste in music is appalling and regularly threatens to perform an exorcism on my iPod if I play Gina G’s ‘Ooh Ahh… Just A Little Bit’ one more time, I thought I would share mine. They are as follows:
1. ‘Tapestry’ from the album Tapestry by Carole King
This album and this song woke me up to the beauty and genius of good song-writing. Whilst Carole King’s voice ain’t the best in the world, her melodies and accompanying lyrics are just astonishing. This, the title song from the album just felt like a piece of poetry set to music (which in turn appealed to the bit of me that bums poetry hard). Also in a time where everyone was singing Mariah Carey and Celine Dion songs I got up aged 12 and belted this out in a school concert, so it also for me makes me think of my time at secondary school. Bizarrely, I didn’t get bullied at school, though some might say I was asking for it, for I used to skip along the corridor singing my alto line from the Madrigals we’d learnt in Chamber Choir. I suppose I wasn’t bullied because even back then, I just thought that confidently being different and being really into something was cooler than smoking down the alleyway that ran adjacent to school. TO ALL THE KIDS WHO ARE A BIT DIFFERENT: YOU’RE DOING IT RIGHT.
2. ‘You Can Close Your Eyes’ from the album Mud Slide Slim and the Blue Horizon by James Taylor
Similarly to Carole King, the early James Taylor albums were well loved by my Dad who is a huge music geek. Theirs were albums he had when he was a teenager, battered and dog-eared from love and being played over and over again. He passed the love of them onto me, and James’s lovely voice and lyrics just wooed me as a teenager. Dad’s also incredibly musical and plays the guitar, and he and I used to sing this as a duet, him as James, me as Carly Simon. One of my favourite memories is him taking me to Brighton to see a James Taylor gig, so for me, perhaps James Taylor is a musical summation of my relationship with my TOP POP.
3. ‘Heaven on their Minds’ from Jesus Christ Superstar by Andrew Lloyd Webber
I mean I couldn’t make my Desert Island Discs without there being at least ONE musical theatre track on there COULD I?! I chose this one out of all of them, because I used to listen to this album over and over again as a kid, playing all the parts. I still think I’d make a BITCHING Caiaphas. Whilst my musical theatre tastes have gone way beyond Lloyd Webber, I just adored this. For me at the time it was risky, raucous and teeming with drama (plus, I went through a hippy stage when I was a teenager and loved wearing cheesecloth tops and peasant dresses, so I had real fashion envy at the 1973 version of this film).
4. ‘Last Train Home’ from the album Still Life Talking by Pat Metheny
Another influence from Dad Brennan. After his acousticky singer-songwriter love affair came to a close, my old fella started his life as a jazz head, this revolution in his musical tastes being headed up by the utter genius that is Pat Metheny. I was rocked to sleep to this tune, driven to school to his other albums and now his music is etched into my musical make-up. This one’s a favourite for me because I think that there is inherent drama woven into the track (HA! See what I did there! ‘track’! Because it’s about a train! Guys?! No?! Fine) . I imagine a train chugging a long slow journey across America, and like to think about all the characters that might be passengers on board. Everyone should have a bit o’Pat in their lives, the guy’s an absolute legend and has hair that gives Brian May a run for his money.
5. ‘Spice Up Your Life’ from the album SpiceWorld by The Spice Girls
Not one of my more refined choices, I’ll grant you. But when I was in Year Six, the Spice girls came CRASHING into my life all shouty and peace signs and big buffalo trainers (of which I had a blue pair). As a treat for parties, I used to wear all my leopard print stuff and my Mum used to crimp and backcomb my hair (which was at that point down to my thighs- I looked less like Mel B and more like Mufasa). But I think for any girl my age, Team Spice were IMPORTANT. They showed that girls could have balls too (so to speak). GIRL POWER.
6. ‘I Wanna Be The Only One’ from the album Before the Rain by Eternal (feat. BeBe Winans)
Purely because I think this might be the happiest song in the world. I MEAN ANY SONG THAT HAS MULTIPLE KEY CHANGES AT THE END IS A WINNER BY ME AND THIS ONE HAS THREE KEY CHANGES OF SCREAMING GOSPEL GOODNESS. I defy you to listen to this and not grin.
7. ‘You Can Call Me Al’ from the album Graceland by Paul Simon
In 2005/2006 I took a year out and joined a drama course entitled ‘Year Out Drama Company’ in Stratford-Upon-Avon. There, I made the best friends, had the most wild and wonderful time, learned about LIFE and MYSELF and DRAMA and ever since have continued to be a part of the lovely-sparkly-spiderwebby-network that is made up of each year group that does Year Out Drama. This song is the YOD anthem and it has a dance routine that goes with it (yep, we’re THOSE people). I’ve performed the dance to this song in public spaces with RECKLESS GAY ABANDON more times than I’ve had hot dinners. And hilariously, people normally join in. Once we got a whole bar of people in Edinburgh doing it. I laughed until I ached.
8. ‘Come Together’ from the album Abbey Road by The Beatles
Because there has to be a Beatles track in there because THEY’RE THE BEATLES FA CRYIN OUT LOUD. They’re the musical equivalent of bacon- a staple, but delicious every time. One of my favourite games is ‘Top 5 Beatles Songs’- this list never gets laminated because it’s a-given that those Scouse loons wrote so many good belters that your Top 5 will regularly shift. However, this one for me is always a non-mover. It’s complex yet simple, ballsy yet welcoming and has SWAG by the bucketload.
So there you have it. They’re my desert island discs. That’s the musical patchwork that makes up the quilt of my life (that’s a bit wanky isn’t it?). It was tough guys. I had to make a really difficult decision about the inclusion of Gina G and also ‘Cotton Eye Joe’ (incidentally which was also my very first single. I should be embarrassed about that, but weirdly, I’M NOT. Partly because my brother’s first single was this: bit.ly/193RaoU HAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAH ) But I will happily hang up my hat and nod my head and declare “YES. I am happy with that bunch.”
Now to decide on the book and luxury item.
Who am I kidding? Of course I’d take a magnum of gin.
p.s If you’d like to find out more about Year Out Drama check these out: