Sunday, 5 August 2007

Desert Island Discs

Since posting a list of 10 books I'd happily revisit, and mentioning the radio program Desert Island Discs in passing, I've discovered it's still running ... into its 65th year! That's a stunning feat. However, with all those celebrities stranded on desert islands over so many years, what's even more amazing is that any islands are left on which to dump yet another. Not only this, but I can't get over the fact that no one's fully considered that you don't find many functioning record players washed up on desert island beaches, nor that you'd find an electricity grid and power socket to plug the thing into.

It all seems a tad cruel to pluck a celebrity from stardom, to encourage them 002to select 8 records, and then to abandon them on a desert island without any real chance of listening to the things. They might come in useful as frisbees, I guess, but the frustration would outweigh any pleasure. It's either cruel or pleasantly absurd.

Maybe the additional items they're allowed to take (a book, other than a religious or Shakespearian text, and an inanimate luxury, without any practical use) will somehow compensate for the futility of having carefully chosen the 8 records they can look at but can't hear.

Now, I can't just sit back and let other people create lists of their top 8 records without wanting to do the same. So, after great deliberation and much consternation at having to leave out a few hundred favourite tracks, here's my list:

  1. Amsterdam - Jacques Brel (David Bowie did a cover once---everyone's covered Brel---but the live version of Amsterdam, performed by the Belgian, reminds me of a small town in France[!] where I bought the album and had a great holiday)
  2. Mahli (remix) - Souad Massi (impossible not to tap your foot to, to start dancing to, to start bouncing round the room to)
  3. Soleá - Radio Tarifa (love the soulful passion of flamenco)
  4. Burn One Down - Ben Harper (probably not representative of Ben Harper at his best, but a fun song that'd remind me of his other work)
  5. Little Red Rooster - The Rolling Stones (couldn't choose between Muddy Waters and all the other Blues greats, but the Stones did a great job with this song)
  6. Exit Music (For a Film) - Radiohead (evocative and strongly linked in my head with Baz Luhrmann's Romeo and Juliet, which I like a lot)
  7. Trois Gymnopédies - Erik Satie (something classical, pensive, mellow)
  8. No Woman, No Cry - Bob Marley and the Wailers
If I was ranking these records, I'd have to put No Woman, No Cry first. Which is why I've left it till last! It's a no-brainer for me. One of the best tracks of all time, with many excellent covers and a few terrible ones too. Many years 001 ago, when I was on the way home from Northampton School of Art and College of Technology, where I was doing my 'A' levels, a friend told me that a band called Bob Marley and the Wailers were playing in the town that night and that I should come along. I'd not heard of them at the time and thought they'd be a two-bit band so didn't go, but within a couple of months I'd learnt what I'd missed out on. Ouch!
  • For reading material, I'd probably want to take an encyclopedia. Something to dip in and out of and never quite finish. No beginning, no end.
  • For that little luxury, I'd either negotiate to take my collection of Northern Exposure DVDs (and something to watch all six series on) or, failing that, a large bottle of good Irish whiskey.
Well, that's me on my desert island. What about you?

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