Desert Island Disc’s

For those of you who don’t live in the UK or for those of you who have never listened to Radio 4, you may not understand the title Desert Island Disc’s. This is one of my favourite Radio programmes and it would be amazing if I were ever invited to appear on this programme.

The idea for the programme came from a man called Roy Plomley in 1941, he came up with the idea as he was getting ready for bed one night. He presented the idea to the BBC who snapped it up. It was first broadcast in January 1942 with Roy as the presenter and this continued up until his death in 1985. The programme was the presented by Michael Parkinson for two years then it was taken over by Sue Lawley who presented from 1988-2006. It is now presented by Kirsty Young, who is excellent. It is the longest running factual radio programme in the world.

For more info on Desert Island disc’s use this link

So the basic idea of the programme is that the guest is marooned on a desert island and they are allowed to choose 8 pieces of music to have on the island. At the end of the programme they choose their most favourite track out of the eight. As they talk about the music they also talk about their lives and why the particular piece of music means so much to them. The presenter also asks them questions, but it is mainly lead by the guest.

On top of the 8 pieces of music to be marooned with the guest is given a copy of the Bible or other religious text if they are not of the Christian faith. They are also given the Complete Works Of Shakespeare. Up until 1951 this was all the guests were marooned with, however Roy decided to relax  the rules and guests were allowed to chose a book of their own they would like to take and a luxury item. The luxury item had to be inanimate, so that would be hard for me no dogs allowed on the desert island!

If you would like to hear desert island disc’s the BBC has now put their entire archive of the programme on the Internet this gives you a full list of who has been on the programme. If you type in desert island disc’s on google you will find mountains of information about the programme.

So here it is Rachel’s Desert Island Disc’s

This took me a few days to come up with the 8 tracks that I would be marooned with. A lot of my pieces have  a great sentimental value to me or have been important to me at some point in my life. I don’t know if I could exist on these tracks alone. So as I go through them I will try and give you some insight as to why I have chosen them.

1. “Red Hill Mining Town” U2 – The Joshua Tree 1987.

I like this track as you can really belt it out whilst singing to it. There are so many U2 tracks that I could have picked. In the end it had to be something from The Joshua Tree as this album had the most sentimental value for me.

In 1987 I had never heard of the Band U2, I actually acquired this CD for free. My parents bought our first CD player in 1987, god knows how much it cost but it came with 10 free Cd’s. My parents picked this one and Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark plus 8 others. When they got home I searched through the Cd’s with my sister. I chose this one as mine, due to the moody cover shot and then The Joshua Tree was all my parents heard over and over again. It made a change for them from A-ha that I had been into until Morten Harkett announced his engagement I was devastated and could never quite listen to A-Ha again without a tear in my eye!

2. Dr Macphail’s Trance ’92 version, Capercaille -Get Out

I got deeply into Irish music after getting into U2. I love Clannad, Enya and the Pogues. Fairy Tale of New York would have been on this list, but I think it would have depressed me too much and  as its a Christmas Classic. Christmas is a time for family, on a desert island you wouldn’t want to be reminded of that.

This is a entirely instrumental track but its very catchy, I can hear it in my head now. I know that I was given 2 Cd’s by this band. I think they were given to me by a friend of the family who was really into Celtic bands like Capercaille and Runrig.

I find the track very haunting and on different days it can make me feel different things. Its a great track to write to as it lasts 8 minutes! So I could be accused of cheating as its practically double the length of all the other tracks I have chosen.

3. Sing- Travis- The Invisible Band

This song has a bit of a strange story behind it. I love the band Travis and those of you who know me are aware of the fact my first dog was called Travis. However he was not named after the band but a close friends grandfather. It was such a cool name for a dog!

Hubs and I went to Paris for a 5 day break in October  2001, we stayed in a really cheap hotel that was later turned into an immigrants hostel and then a few years later again it was on the news as it had burnt down to the ground and several people had been killed.

We really enjoyed the holiday. We walked everywhere due to the stunning architecture, we walked the length and breath of Paris. It was a really warm October, the food was fab and alcohol expensive but we really had a good time.

We had a small TV in our room and every morning before getting up for breakfast we used to put on MTV. They kept playing this song and at 7am Hubs decides to sing along, but not quietly. Within 30 seconds of him serenading me there were loud hammering’s from both sides of the room. Our fellow guests didn’t appreciate his musicality at that time in the morning. Now whenever we hear that song we think of Paris and fall about laughing! Happy, happy memories.

The whole Travis album reminds us also of travelling to Norfolk for our neices christening. We had a fabulous weekend at a four star hotel – it cost nearly as much as our trip to Paris for 3 nights! We played the cassette tape so much that we actually stretched it. As soon as we got home we bought the CD.

4. Bedshaped – Keane- Hopes and Fears

I’m not massively into music, my family is much more into their music than I am. My sister loves Indie bands. Due to her living at home up until around 5 years ago my parents are very trendy with their music as well. Mum and Dad have seen Suede in concert, The Beautiful South and The Charlatans – trendy enough for you?

My sister was the one that got me into Keane and its only this album. I have never listened to any of their other albums. This is actually my writing music I just love the lyrics. Its special as my sister introduced me to it.

5. Night and Day Frank Sinatra

I chose this track for two reasons, firstly a bit of Frank never hurt anyone! He was an amazing singer. Mum used to Play Frank Sinatra on the record player on a Sunday morning whilst she did the ironing in the dinning room. I remember her ironing away whilst belting it out, giving Frank a run for his money! It’s a happy childhood memory. My mum also liked Paul Young, Wham etc at this time, I just think Sunday was the time for ‘Ole Blue eyes!

The second reason I chose this song is the lyrics are by Cole Porter and I love Cole Porter songs. Mum used to play an album called Fred Astaire by Peter or Paul Skelton I think my memory isn’t the best. I loved the album and played it over and over. It was all the songs from the films like Tea for Two, Top Hat etc.
Burt Bacharach is another amazing song writer and composer. If I thought about this longer I may have dropped one of my other tracks for one of his!

6. The House of The Blue Danube -Malcolm Maclaren and the Modzilla Orchestra – Waltz Darling

My taste in music has always been very eclectic and always very different from my peers. Some of you may remember that this piece was used for British Airways adverts in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. I was absolutely obsessed with this track, we didn’t have the Internet in those days so it wasn’t a question of googling British Airways to find out the composer of the track. All in all it took me about 12 months to track it down. I am the only person I know with this album. It maybe over 20 years old but it gets dragged out every six months for some serious playing as the whole CD is excellent.

This track also got me into opera, I love Carmen and watched that recently on sky one with my hubby. I never in my life thought he would sit through an opera! I love Madame Butterfly as well.

I didn’t want my desert island disc’s to be a cliché as most of the rich and famous people who are guests on the programme have either all classical music or a few tracks of classical music. Most of the time if they are celebrities I have a smug smile to myself and wonder which member of their PR team or Management Company actually picked it for them! I do like classical music but it doesn’t extend much past the Nutcracker Suite or Moonlight Sonatas. So this track is my nod to the world of classical music.

7. Something – The Beatles – 1967-1970 box set

This was really hard to choose as I like so many of The Beatles tracks. If I was on Desert Island Disc’s I probably wouldn’t include a Beatles track as the thought of any royalties going to Paul McCartney makes me feel physically sick. I have never met the man but there is something about him I don’t like.

I was brought up listening to The Beatles, mum has a load of original EP’s and Dad has an original White Album – Vinyl. I had moved away from The Beatles when I met Hubby in 1997 and he brought back to me both Frank Sinatra and the Beatles. He played them both pretty much constantly. When he does karaoke he sings either Frank or The Beatles.

It was hard to chose the track as it could have quite easily been A day In the Life, Norwegian Wood, Across the Universe just to name a few. I just think the lyrics and the music are really haunting and just touch something in my soul.

8. If you could read my mind love – Gordon Lightfoot – If you could read my mind love

I love Gordon Lightfoot and this is an artist that my parents played on the old vinyl record player as I was a kid growing up. Its something thats just stuck with me. I can go years without hearing his music,( I owned a CD of his years ago and sold it at a car boot sale around 13 years ago and regretted it ever since!) and then suddenly out of nowhere I will hear a track and childhood memories come flooding back of my sister and I sitting in the back of the car, dad driving mum map reading, Gordon on the tape player. We would all be singing our hearts out to this track and many more. I taped him from sky recently and since then his songs have been stuck in my head. Just today I have ordered myself a greatest hits compilation from Amazon as I can’t go on without his music!

We did a lot of car journeys when I was a kid, many of them lasting ten hours or more so we got through a lot of music! The first Tracey Chapman Album reminds me of Switzerland as that is all we played when we drove there for a holiday. Simple Minds (can’t remember which album but I had it on vinyl) reminds me of France as we played it in the car when we were on holiday over there. Its funny how some music can just trigger memories.

So they are my desert island disc’s for now, give it a few weeks and I would probably change it again. It was hard not putting any Leonard Cohen on there. Its really weird as when we were kids my sister and I used to call Leonard Cohen music to commit suicide to! Now I really like it, I have to play it when I am alone now as hubs can’t stand him. A lot of my music choices have been influenced by childhood memories.

OK so now for the books, as I am not remotely religious I would have to ditch the bible, I’ve read it a few times and I think its a great way to live your life – some of it – not Leviticus. I don’t believe that a higher power created the earth in 7 days. So in its place I would like an SAS survival manual I think it would be a lot more useful. Bending the rules again, I have read the complete work of Shakespeare several times so I would like to swap that for the complete gilt edged Oxford English dictionary. I would read that letter by letter and never get bored. I love books like the Encyclopedia Britannica so I would probably choose a complete up to date set of these to take to the island.

So that just leaves my luxury, its quite easy if I can’t take my Hubby or the dogs it would have to be a never ending supply of cigarettes with matches. I am ashamed to say that is exactly the same luxury that was chosen by Nick Clegg when he appeared on the programme. However can I assure you that’s where the similarity ends!

I would also need the luxury of a limitless supply of paper, a pencil and pencil sharpener so I could jot down any ideas I have whilst waiting to be rescued! Although I have bent the rules so much I would have to smuggle these items onto the island!

So what would be your dessert island disc’s and why? I hope you enjoyed this post.


5 thoughts on “Desert Island Disc’s

  1. Rach, this sounds like a really fun program.

    You have some great taste in music!
    I would have a hard time narrowing it down to 8 songs.

    I love U2, Travis, Keane, Gordon Lightfoot, and The Beatles, I might add some Paolo Nutini, some bagpipes, can't forget The Band.I need to give some serious thought to the rest!!! Leonard Cohen and Lou Reed are good when your feeling down, so much emotion in their lyrics.

    As far as my book, a dictionary would be great, lots of new words to learn. When I was a kid my parents kept a huge encyclopedia in our bathroom for me to read. I still have it as a memento!!

    I would like nice yarn and crochet hooks to keep me busy when I'm not reading my dictionary, or listening to my music. I guess a laptop is out of the question, unless it was solar powered or something.

    I would love some time alone on an island! So many things to think about….Great Post


  2. Hi Rachel,

    Thank you very much for your lovely comments. I have never been told that I have good taste in music before!

    I do like a lot of throw away pop music as well like Katy Perry and Brittany Speares but I know after a while I would get bored of these. The tracks I have chosen would never bore me but hopefully inspire me!

    You would be able to listen to the programme on the bbc i player if you get a chance to listen to it. Its a Sunday morning institution along with a programme called the Archers!

    Thanks for taking the time to comment.



  3. Hi Rachel .. I love music – but can never get the names out .. so choosing 8 would be very difficult! The book .. I suspect it would be a cookery book … so many ideas in their and memories, scents etc .. the luxury .. a fresh spring?! or champagne .. actually no idea – internet connection?!

    I too love listening to Desert Island Disc's when I catch one .. they are interesting and informative about the guest ..

    Cheers – hope you're keeping reasonably well .. all the best – Hilary


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