No, not Love Island, I’m talking about that desert island that has been in people’s hearts and minds for the past 76 years and absolutely counts as one of my guilty pleasures in life. Desert Island Discs.
To those of you reading this who are either not in the UK, it hasn’t reached your radar yet or are still professing to be far too cool for all this “old person” stuff, this is the Radio 4 programme where guests are asked to choose eight tracks (records, discs, call it what you will….) which you would take to a mythical desert island along with the complete works of Shakespeare, the Bible and a luxury item. A bit like “I’m a Celebrity” without having to eat any kangaroo appendages really.
Now I admit, whilst I’m not exactly an avid listener of Radio 4 and tend only to listen to the interviews where I’ve heard of the person in the first place, (which is rarer than I’d like to admit) I definitely have a soft spot for this radio institution and either listen to the podcasts at home or in the car whilst deliberating on which absolute bangers (I don’t think they call them this on Radio 4) I would pack in that mythical suitcase of mine.
Now this is not an easy task. It’s a little like when people ask what your favourite film is and you have the tough decision of “do I go with something everyone will think is really cool or do I just put it out there and admit how much I love Mannequin???” Pretty much each time I start thinking it over, I come up with different song options and really just want to cheat and ask for my luxury item to be an iPod so I can click shuffle and have thousands of songs at my fingertips like we’re all used to these days. But no, that’s not what this is about, so with that in mind, these are the eight tracks I would pick as of today. Next week or even tomorrow will probably be a different list. In five, ten or twenty years time it almost certainly would be. These have been chosen because they all mean something to me, or remind me of something or someone and just make me happy. Cheesy but true.
So, in no particular order, the first one I would go for is “Fools Gold” by The Stone Roses. Although I was pretty much the right age bracket and dressed accordingly (for accordingly, read “dreadfully”) at the height of their brilliance, I am ashamed to say I was too busy listening to utter crap in my teenage years and didn’t really “get” the Roses until probably the last ten years or so. I was reintroduced to them by my husband and, to avoid making him look as though he has excellent taste, I should add that some of the other stuff he’s tried to make me listen to has been utterly shocking. But the Roses I liked. I’d forgotten that they were constantly there in the background of my teens and trying to choose just one track was hard. But this one reminds me of desperately trying to be cool at house parties, failing miserably and then finally getting to see them live last year and having the best time ever.
Number two? “Superstar” by The Carpenters. Like many, I used to rifle through my Dad’s record collection (I gave up on Mum’s as “Peter, Paul and Mary” just didn’t cut it for me. Sorry Mum) and this was one of the few non-Jazz records he had. Whether it was bought because he liked it, bought for him or it was a little less blues-ey for all those eighties dinner parties I’ll never know but I listened to it, got hooked on Karen Carpenters’ voice and immediately committed all the lyrics to memory. I sing this in the car with my son and he hates it. Which makes me love it that little bit more.
At three. “Big Log” by Robert Plant. Fascinating fact, he bought me a drink once as he used to drink in my local. Lovely guy but to my eternal shame, at that point in my life at the age of around 20 I didn’t quite know or appreciate who he was. I only discovered this song much later and fell in love with it at first listen. I also like how at no point in the lyrics does he mention the phrase “big log”. (Another fact for you there, thank me later.)
Four – “You Do Something To Me” by Paul Weller. This was the first dance at our wedding. I would like to say we chose this because it had meaning for us and it’s “our song” but the reality is we were running out of time to make a decision on what to have, so we heard it, liked it and went with it. We wanted “Don’t Stop Me Now” by Queen but it apparently “wasn’t romantic enough”. Ah well.
Five – Depending on any given day, this can alternate between “When Doves Cry” or “The Beautiful Ones” by the bloody fabulous Prince, but for todays purposes I’m going with the latter. Possibly my favourite album of all time, Purple Rain, which I listened to until I broke the tape through over-use and promptly upgraded to CD. (I have since upgraded once again to vinyl in a slightly backwards fashion.) This track is best listened to with headphones, loudly, in a darkened room. Love it.
Six – “Edge of Seventeen” by Stevie Nicks. Being eternally late to the party, I first listened to this thinking “Oh my God, it’s Beyonce” before realising that there was such a thing as Songs My Generation Didn’t Invent. This is a classic for belting out in traffic jams. Loudly.
Seven – “Hounds of Love” by Kate Bush. There had to be a Kate Bush song, I used to borrow this album from the library over and over until I got the type of tape player that could record (completely illegally most likely) other tapes. (Come on, we all did it, didn’t we!?) Again, I would attempt to sing along before realising NO ONE can sing like her.
And finally, in at number eight, it has to be “Starman” by David Bowie. I could have chosen quite a few Bowie tracks but this I have chosen because it is my six year olds favourite and because of that, it had to make it into my favourites. Hearing my son singing this and loving it just makes me very happy.
As with every Desert Island Discs Castaway, you are given the complete works of Shakespeare along with the Bible to while away the days but are allowed a book and a luxury to take along too. And, at the risk of sounding basic, I would ask for a coffee machine and an unlimited supply of coffee pods so I could wake each morning to a nice cuppa. (I would hope that the unlimited fresh water supply would come hand in hand with this, if not, the thought of saltwater coffee is a bit grim…..) Book-wise I would have to cheat a little and ask for a gigantic ruled notepad with a nice pen as I’d soon get bored of the same book regardless of how much I love it now and I’d have enough time on my hands to attempt to write my own. At last.
I have to admit, the thought of being stuck on a desert island really doesn’t appeal to me, because sand, sunburn, logistics, accommodation, I’m a fussy old bird these days….. but it’s definitely nice revisiting some favourites and creating a nice little mix-tape. I may have to revisit this post in a years time to see how my list might change, what would you guys pick?