>Desert Island Discs

>A discussion which has brought an uncharacteristically interesting debate in middle class households throughout Britain has been – ‘What would be your Desert Island Discs?’ Well having finally heeded the call the good people at Radio 4 have given me the chance to make my choices official. Before you rise up in outrage that a nobody such as myself has been given such an honour you best realise that anybody can! Go here to post your own. For those unfamiliar with the format this is the BBC explanation:

” The format is simple – a guest is invited to choose eight discs, a book and a luxury to take with them as they’re castaway on a mythical desert island.  They’re given the complete works of Shakespeare and the Bible.  During the interview they explain their choices and discuss key moments in their lives, people and events that have influenced and inspired them and brought them to where they are today.”
Track One:

Elizabeth, you were born to play that part by Ryan Adams

I’ve written about this before so won’t repeat myself. Quite simply I consider this the greatest song ever written. The purest demonstration of love is sacrifice and this song communicates that better than any other. The back story is Ryan wrote it from the point of view of one of his friends who’s wife had suffered a miscarriage. It is a twist of fate that along with Brick by Ben Folds Five such a tragic subject matter could inspire two of the finest songs ever produced. My own connection with it is ongoing – it was one of a clutch of songs that I sought solace in when my good friend Ryan passed away, and it continues to be the song I turn to when I need to reflect and truly appreciate both what I am lucky enough to have and have had.

Track Two:
Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright by Bob Dylan

Choosing which Bob song to go with was a truly hellish task – would it be the introspective beauty of Visions of Johanna, the merciless social comment of It’s alright Ma or the comforting optimism of Forever Young? I took the easy option and went for Dylan most-simple, the song that made me fall under his spell in the first place. I remember listening to this as a 19 year old reeling from the break up of my first ‘real’ relationship and Bob’s words seemed to not only reflect how I was feeling but point me in the direction of recovery. For a song to have that level of emotional connection forty years after the time of writing speaks volumes of its enduring genius.

Track Three:
Barcarolle from Tales of Hoffman by Offenbach

Again this has appeared on the blog before so I will be brief. A truly magical piece of music that formed the soundtrack to my honeymoon in Tuscany.

Track Four:
Hoppipola by Sigur Ros

Ditto Track Four basically although replace honeymoon in Tuscany with adventure holiday in Peru where I proposed. I know of no other song that can simultaneously soothe and stir the senses so effectively.

Track Five:
Livin’ for the City by Stevie Wonder

Where to start? Arguably the outstanding track on my favourite album. Wonder mixes up the political consciousness of Dylan and spices it up with some funk. This song reminds me of growing up with parents who regularly filled the house with the sounds of Stevie and it is a tradition I intend to follow when I start my own family. Not only has this song impacted on me directly but along with the rest of Wonder’s golden period output it has influenced so many other incredible artists from Prince to Outkast to the Fugees.

Track Six:
After the Goldrush by Neil Young

Some songs are just utterly faultless. The imagery of the lyrics, the frail purity of Young’s voice combined with the simple, sublime backing infuse to form a near perfect whole. I’m ashamed to say that despite working with a Neil Young fanatic for a short period I never gave him a chance; probably owing to his failure to appear on an American Pie soundtrack. Thankfully it didn’t take me long to wise up and thanks to some wise men of Kendal I was soon appreciated the wondrous majesty of Young at his best. The song evokes great memories of a particular barbecue celebrating a friends birthday where Young formed the soundtrack whilst great company was enjoyed.

Track Seven:
My Name is Jonas by Weezer

The intro to this song is like a time machine. I’m 17 years old, my (admittedly crap) band were going to make it big, life was a never-ending succession of great nights out with the best friends in the world. Such is the bewitching power of this tune that ten years on in a basement club in Camden for three minutes I was transported back to a time where my whole life was in front of me. For all his sins over the last ten years for Blue and Pinkerton I can forgive Rivers Cuomo anything.

Track Eight:
Oh Happy Day by Children of Agape

This song has a series of extremely strong emotional connections. I first heard it whilst volunteering in South Africa when totally unprompted some of the kids at the Orphanage burst into song. It turned out some of them and their siblings had formed a choir that was beginning to get recognition in an effort to raise money to rebuild their orphanage which had been burnt down in a fire. Despite my lack of connection with the religious content of the song their was an undoubtedly spiritual power to the infectious joy of their song. At the risk of sounding like one of those gap-year types my spell in Africa has a profound effect on me. It changed my perspective from one of intentions to actions and most importantly of all it was sharing this experience that confirmed for me who I should spend the rest of my life with. It was fitting then that as we signed the register on our wedding day the jubilant voices of the Agape Choir filled the Church.
As part of the show you are expected to nominate one song above all the others and for obvious reasons for me it is Oh Happy Day.

The other two decisions are book, and luxury item. As tempting as choosing Robinson Crusoe would be for handy tips it has to be ‘The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck.’ It’s a book I never tire of reading and Shakespeare and the Bible should give me plenty of variety. The luxury item would be my acoustic guitar – on an island miles from civilisation there would be no-one to complain about my extremely limited musicianship and atrocious singing.

I’d love to know what you’d choose so please leave comments.

PS – You may have noticed I’ve opted for Grooveshark over youtube. Sometimes I fear that videos for the sake of it – especially of poor quality – can detract from the music so I’m paring back the amount of videos I use within my blog. Hopefully this will be evened out by posts offering a selection of interesting songs with videos to match.

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  1. >Excellent choices Tom.I’m far too fickle to ever settle on a Top Ten anything, but off the top of my head this Wednesday lunchtime:A Very Precious Time by GilSugar Mountain by NeilSlip-sliding Away by PaulBackstreets by BruceThat Lady by The Isely Brothers Between The Sheets by The Isely BrothersWalk On By as covered by Isaac HayesWalk On By as covered by James ‘D-Train’ Williams…erm…and todays Manics faves… Sculpture Of A Man and Born A Girl


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