Desert Island Dreaming…

Today is predicted to be the hottest this year, and by happy coincidence I’m on leave from work, so I can make the most of a rare spell of fine weather.

I’m off to Amsterdam later this week, and while I’m always delighted to have the opportunity to explore a new city, I’ve been daydreaming of the open space and solitude of the Hebrides. I just finished reading Isles at the Edge of the Sea, Jonny Muir’s personal account of an adventure through the Western Isles of Scotland. It’s been almost a year since I last explored the islands and there are so many that I haven’t yet visited! The Hebridean beaches would be a particularly fine place to visit today – check out the photo of Berneray beach above (surreptitiously used by the Thailand tourist board to promote Kai Bae Beach!)

All this fantasising about deserted beaches has also got me thinking about what my Desert Island Discs would be. For those of you unfamiliar with the concept of the long-running BBC Radio 4 program, a notable guest is invited to choose eight records – and a luxury item – that they would take to a desert island. They are also automatically provided with the Bible (or an alternative religious or philosophical work), and the complete works of Shakespeare – a substitute for which isn’t offered…(I think the program needs to change this rule – I find Shakespeare boring, difficult to read (and watch), out of date, misogynistic and utterly over-rated… I can’t think of anything that I’d like to read less on a deserted island!)

Anyway, without further ado (much or otherwise), here’s my list of discs:

  1. Some Might Say (Oasis, 1995). This was the first single released from (What’s The Story) Morning Glory, the first album that I properly listened to in its entirety. Again and again. (And again). The pre-chorus ‘Some might say we will find a brighter day’ really struck a chord with my fifteen-year old self who was, quite frankly, desperate to leave behind the drudgery of school and home, and lead my own life.
  2. You Oughta Know (Alanis Morisette, 1995). Although I didn’t comprehend the meaning of this song until I was older, I related to the anger and hurt expressed so eloquently through the music, lyrics and vocal style. I recall being aware that female musicians were not taken seriously and I was amazed to discover that the (female) drummer in our after-school jazz band was also an Alanis fan (until then I thought I was the only one). You Oughta Know is an incredibly invigorating song to perform too, and when I sang along into a hairbrush in front of the mirror I never dreamed that I would one day be singing this live on stage with my band!
  3. Vide Cor Meum. I heard this for the first time in Ridley Scott’s Hannibal (2001) in the scene where Hannibal and Inspector Pazzi visit the opera. The beauty of the music is in complete contrast to the fear and terror of the film, yet seems to heighten the viewer’s sense of anticipation. It was the first piece of music I downloaded from the internet!
  4. Mozart’s Requiem. I learned this outstanding and moving piece of music while singing in a choir in St Andrews, but regrettably I’ve never performed it nor heard it performed live in its entirety. The fourteen different movements probably qualify as different records, which is probably breaking the rules. If I had to choose one it would probably be the Lacrimosa.
  5. Dream Catch Me (Newton Faulkner, 1997). 1997 was a sad year. A best friend’s mother died of cancer, and I was taking some time out from a relationship. I found the lyrics and melody of this song to be uplifting and offering hope in a time of crisis.
  6. Chicago (New Broadway Cast Recording, 1997). For a few months during 1997 I stayed with my best pal from university, and loved that she listened to musicals while doing the housework. She bought me the Chicago CD as a birthday present. I listened to it over and over while driving from job to job on the back-shift, and with the associated seat-bopping and jazz hands, I’ve no idea how the van didn’t end up in a ditch. There are 22 tracks on the album, so I’m probably cheating again! When You’re Good To Mama might be my favourite.
  7. Mr Brightside (The Killers, 2004). I wasn’t too bothered about this song until we recently had to learn it for a wedding first dance. Since then we’ve performed it at every gig, and we’ve even invited the audience up on stage to perform it bandoke style. The song’s success is in its simplicity, anthemic energy and ability to galvanise both performers and punters  – it’s a song that explodes into life when performed live and / or loud. Remember Cameron Diaz in The Holiday?
  8. Number of the Beast (Iron Maiden, 1982). As a child I was rather fearful of the Iron Maiden posters on an uncle’s bedroom walls. I properly discovered Iron Maiden when (age 29) I joined a band and was getting into all sorts of music that I hadn’t previously paid much attention to. I love the power, energy and theatre of this song, and recently bought this fringe t-shirt to tell the rest of the world about it!

I think the diversity of the above list reflects my eclectic taste in music. I am however surprised that there’s no jazz or blues, and nothing by Queen (who are probably my all-time favourite band). My chosen records appear to be intrinsically connected to my emotional state, either by providing an outlet for my feelings or offering refuge through the promise of a better place. The records reflect what I needed (or wanted) at the time, but not necessarily who I am today. Additionally, if I heard any of the above songs in the wrong context – e.g. a clothes shop changing room (a particular irritation of mine) – I could be tempted to strike it off the list altogether!

As for my luxury item, I would take a solar-powered Kindle pre-loaded with a lifetime’s worth of reading. Except for Shakespeare…

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