Desert Island Discs

Desert Island Discs is, according to Wikipedia, the longest continuously running music program, a to the popularity not only of music but of our fascination with what music tells us about someone. Mix that with those "someones" being celebrities and you've got a radio show that has run for over 50 years.

Basically a celebrity guest comes on the program and selects 8 pieces of music, 1 book (Shakespeare and a selected religious work you get for free) and 1 luxury item with no practical use for escaping the island or communicating. While they make their selections they discuss their lives in the context of the choices they make.

A very wide variety of celebrities have appeared on the radio show including Inspector Rebus author Ian Rankin, Stephen King, Kim Cattrall, John Malkovich, Billy Connolly, George Clooney and Jeremy Clarkson (whose luxury item should be no surprise). So if you decide to submit one you're in good company.

Before getting to my choices these aren't necessarily my 8 favourite pieces of music but as you're only going to get to listen to these 8 tracks, potentially for the rest of your life, you'd better have some variety.

My choices

  • Whatever
  • Performer: Oasis
  • Composer: Noel Gallagher
  • CD: Whatever-EP (1994)

I chose this song for the background music to the video of my son Noah's first few hours after being born. I love Oasis and, for me, this is Noel and Liam's finest moment.

This was a tough decision as if I were just selecting stand-alone favourite tracks I'd probably have chosen "The Masterplan" but "Whatever" will always remind me of Noah and I'd miss him on that island.

  • Louise
  • Performer: The Human League
  • Composer: Callis, Oakey, Wright
  • CD: Hysteria (1984)

A nice piece of 80's electronica accompanying the theme immortalized in Robert Frost's "The Road Not Taken". It's not really a love song and it's not really a song about regret but I think most people could identify with the sentiments of the tune. It really reminds you that your life is passing you by and that you only get one chance at it. This was another tough decision between two tracks the competitor for this spot was "The Road Not Taken" by Bruce Hornsby and the Range from the Album "Scenes from the South Side". Louise got the edge probably because it was covered recently by Robbie Williams on his 2006 album "Rudebox" but there's really nothing to separate them.

  • The Majesty of Rock
  • Performer: Spinal Tap
  • Composer: Spinal Tap
  • CD: Break Like The Wind (1992)

A beautifully crafted piece of nonsense rounding up all the rock cliche's and blasting them apart in a track just less than 4 minutes. I think this lyric sums it up best.

  • I know, for I told me so,
  • And I'm sure each of you quite agrees:
  • The more it stays the same, the less it changes!
  • And that's The Majesty Of Rock!
  • Clocks
  • Performer: Coldplay
  • Composer: Coldplay
  • CD: A Rush of Blood to the Head (2002)

This is just a great track but what makes it stand out for me is Will Champion's snare drum work. That sounds kind of nerdy but I don't care. Just listen to it pick up the piano melody and drive the track along and you'll see what I mean.

  • Ghost Story
  • Performer: Sting
  • Composer: Sting
  • CD: Brand New Day (1999)

It wasn't easy narrowing down all the Sting/The Police tracks to just one but in the end it came down to a choice between Ghost Story and Why Should I Cry for You? Sting knows how to write lyrics and compliment them with music and these for me are the best pieces of poetry put to music you can find. As a point of interest Ghost Story is a track on Kevin Smith's (Silent Bob) self-titled "non-celebrity playlist". You can decide for yourself what that means.

  • Sometimes
  • Performer: James
  • Composer: James
  • CD: Laid (1993)

Tim Booth (the lead singer and songwriter of James) has said of this song that Brian Eno was moved to tears the first time the band played it live in the studio for him and that he told them it was one of the highlights of his musical life. If it's good enough for Mr. Brian Eno it's good enough for me.

  • The Ace of Spades
  • Performer: Motörhead
  • Composer: Lemmy Kilmister
  • CD: Ace of Spades (1980)

The only card I need...

  • Running Up That Hill
  • Performer: Kate Bush
  • Composer: Kate Bush
  • CD: The Hounds of love (1985)

Eternity is a long time to go without hearing a woman's voice.


  • Book: Encyclopedia Britannica

What else would you choose? It's not just a pragmatic selection: I've always wanted to read an encyclopedia from cover to cover. There are so many things I know nothing about but I'd probably start with the sections on sand and palm trees.

  • Luxury Item: My guitar



Well there you have it; my Desert Island Discs.

Be brave and send me yours.

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