7 March 2010


Desert Island Discs is a long-running BBC Radio 4 programme. It was first broadcast on 29 January 1942 and is the longest-running music programme in the history of radio. Guests are invited to imagine themselves cast away on a desert island, and to choose eight pieces of music to take with them. They are then asked which book they would take with them; they are automatically given Shakespeare's Complete Works and either the Bible or another appropriate religious or philosophical work.

Guests also choose one luxury, which must be inanimate and of no use in escaping the island or allowing communication from outside.

Here's an example - the film actor, Michael Caine. The extra book he picked was "The Fountainhead" by Ayn Rand and his luxury was a large bed with goose down and feather pillows. His pieces of music contained one or two surprises - "Viva La Viva" by Coldplay, "One Day Like This" by Elbow, Elgar's "Nimrod", "No Ordinary Morning" by Chicane, "Swollen" by Bent, "Move Closer" by Phyllis Nelson, Frank Sinatra's "My Way" and "Happy Xmas (War is Over)" by John Lennon and Yoko Ono.

So...dear blogland visitor what would be your choices if Kirsty Young of the BBC invited you to be the guest interviewee on next week's edition of "Desert Island Discs"? I guess this is like one of those "memes" that seem to have fallen out of fashion with bloggers. Here are my choices:-


"Blowing in The Wind" - Bob Dylan

"I Thought I was A Child" - Jackson Browne

"The Last Time I Saw Richard" - Joni Mitchell

"We Shall Overcome" (Albert & Seeger) sung by Joan Baez

"Jerusalem" - the hymn (William Blake and Joseph Parry)

"Happiness" sung by Ken Dodd

"There'll Be Bluebirds Over The White Cliffs of Dover" sung by Vera Lynn

and "Who Knows where The Time Goes?" sung by Sandy Denny

I guess that my music choices would change if I sat down to do this next Sunday morning as might my book and luxury choices. I would swap The Bible for The Koran as I have never read it and I am mystified by Islam. What's all the fuss about? Why these burkhas, these mosques, these people kneeling, these visits to Mecca, these fundamentalists? All very puzzling for a lifelong atheist. My other book would be "Le Grand Meaulnes" by Alain Fournier which I could read over and over such is its magical spell. The luxury would be my guitar with spare strings and an electronic tuner. I would sit under a palm tree on my desert island, beneath a full moon making up songs about the world I had left behind.

So what would your selections be if the BBC called you up for "Desert Island Discs"?


    1. Frances6:02 pm

      I like this post!

      I think that my choices (at the moment) would be:
      Daylight - Matt and Kim
      You've Got the Love - Florence and the Machine
      Let it Be - The Beatles
      When You Were Young - The Killers
      The Times They Are A Changing - Bob Dylan
      You Know I'm No Good - Amy Winehouse
      Rich Girl - Hall and Oates
      Saeglopur - Sigur Ros

      That was hard... Arctic Monkeys should really be on there!

      As I already would have The Bible and Shakespeare's Complete Works for fictional stories, I would choose a good encyclopedia so that when I return from the island I'd be amazing at pub quizzes and finally be able to compete on your level!

      My luxury item would be lots of sketchbooks and a complete supply of art materials.

      Now I'm ready for when I get that call from the radio...

    2. Elizabeth6:03 pm

      Oh, my YP,what a challenge you've set us, today. I used to be an avid listener of 'Desert Island Discs' when Roy Plomley was the presenter, but tailed off after that...nobody else seemed to quite cut the mustard.
      Please could I have my Bible in Hebrew and Aramaic combined text - one I know well; the other, it will be good to have time to study. Shakespeare seems a substantial literary feast in itself, but I would probably add to that an anthology such as 'Contemporary American Poetry' edited by Poulin and Waters, or, failing that anything by Levi Primo.
      Music. Hmm...
      1. Ravel's, 'L'enfant et les sortilèges'. (because I can sit in the sunshine picturing the ballet moves in my mind's eye)
      2. Streetwise Opera's rendition of Britten's five canticles in Westminster Abbey. (it's one in the eye for the MP who said "homeless people are those baggages we step over on our way to the opera.")
      3. Hieroglyphics and Goapele - "Soweto".
      4.Rostropovich playing Bach's Cello Suite No 1.
      5. Jimmy Fortune - 'Elizabeth' (what? he did write it for me, didn't he? :-))
      6.Enya - 'May it be' (All of my children were birthed to Enya's music and you really wanted to know that, didnt you?)
      7. Camille Saint-Saëns - 'Carnival of the Animals' (because it was the Schools' radio programme, 'Come Together', murdering this music that decided me,once and for all, that any child of mine would be home-educated!)
      8.Rick Springfield - 'Life is a celebration' (because it is and always will be.)
      I guess if the luxury has to be inanimate and not used as a means of escape, I'd be marooned without my w/chair, so maybe I would have to flag down a passing turtle and engage his services to get me about. I have a little box containing the umbilical stumps of all of my children - that and the rings on my fingers would provide me with enough memories until I got to see my family again.
      Of course, ask the question next week and my answers might be entirely different. Change the programme scheduling and make Neil Nunes the prsenter of 'Desert Island Discs' and I'd be too speechless to make any choices...now that's a voice I'd share a sandy paradise with, any day.

    3. Elizabeth.6:57 pm

      That should of course read, 'Primo Levi' - the heat and hunger are getting to me already!

    4. Oh, what a delicious challenge!

      My choices:
      Beethoven's 9th and 6th symphonies

      Bach's Goldberg Variations

      Schubert's 'Serenade'

      Chopin's Grande Polonaise brilliante Op. 22 and also the Nocturne in E flat Major.

      Sibelius's 'Finlandia'

      Haydyn's Trumpet Concerto in E flat

      Satie's 'Gymnopedie'

      Handel's Serse 'Largo'

      The book: Dickens's 'Our Mutual Friend'

      The luxury: would have to be the same as Frances - I'd need my art supplies!

    5. Oh dear, it was eight pieces of music and I put ten. You'd better leave off the Pastorale and Finlandia I suppose.

    6. I'll have to think a while about the "extras." But I just spent the weekend listening to my favorite music on my iPhone. Two of them are on your list - I three versions of We Shall Overcome - the Baez version, one sung by Pete Seeger himself, and the Peter, Paul and Mary Version. The other from your list is Blowing in the Wind.

      You would probably like most of my iPhone music. There's more Baez, some Linda Ronstadt (Blue Bayou send chills up my spine), pre-electric Simon and Garfunkel.

    7. YP, I found it difficult to choose the music. I bet I wake up at 3am and wish I had included something else!

      Intermezzo from Cavelleria Rusticana by Mascagni

      Mozart's Requiem

      America from the 1961 film West Side Story, music by Bernstein

      La Vie en Rose sung by Edith Piaf

      Ella Fitzgerald singing Embraceable You

      While My Guitar Gently Weeps by George Harrison played by Eric Clapton

      Leonard Cohen, Dance me to the End of Love

      The Drifters, Under the Boardwalk

      The book of choice is Rohinton Mistry's A Fine Balance

      For some serious navel-gazing I'll choose the Buddhist text The Tripitaka as there are 40 volumes and when you are on a desert island there's no telling when you'll get off.

      For the luxury item I'm with Michael Caine and nominate a comfy bed

    8. Alright love, I think we heard you the first time... ;-)

      Beatles- Not a Second Time

      Beatles- It's Only Love

      Pulp- Babies

      Billy Bragg- Greetings to the New Brunette

      Morrissey- Satan Rejected My Soul

      Morrissey- Now My Heart is Full

      Dionne Warwick- Heartbreaker

      BJ Thomas- Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head (Bacharach/David)

      Book: The Machine Gunners By Robert Westall

      luxury item: Guitar and tuner too

    9. My oh my! I never realised that this blog was visited by such highbrow culture vultures! ELIZABETH and KATHERINE should have a mud-wrestling bout to decide who's top dog in the classical stakes...And LYNDA - some lovely choices and please don't worry about the mistakenly multiplied responses. We can't all be computer whizzkids! BOOTHERS - "The Machine Gunners"? Please check that it hasn't got a school stamp inside. If it has, the Thai authorities will shortly be deporting you! JAN BLAWAT - nice to see we are on a similar wavelength musically speaking and FRANCES (Beloved daughter) Yours were of course the best suggestions!


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