Picture it, an exotic desert island completely void of life and miles from anywhere else. Are you there yet, relaxed in your lean-to shack? Ok…what music is playing?
That is the simple premise of Desert Island Discs, the BBC radio show that turned 70 on Sunday 29th January. For anyone who has not come across it, Desert Island Discs is one of the longest-running radio programmes in the world, and holds the record for the longest-running factual programme in the history of history of radio. The show highlights the dream music playlists of the great and good, and is still as popular as ever.
Simplicity is probably the key to the longevity of the show, after all who hasn’t had the question asked of them ‘what couldn’t you do without?’ or ‘what is your favourite song?’ I know I would certainly struggle without music in my life.
Music has that wonderful ability to alter moods and stir emotions. I’m sure everyone has had the experience of hearing a song that sparks memories of days gone by. So much of our lives are signposted by music, from the school disco where you had that first kiss to the first dance at a wedding and ultimately a farewell song when we depart this world.
So as it is highly probable that I will never get to go on the show, I thought I would give it a go. Traditionally 8 pieces of music should be chosen, but for the sake of this blog I have whittled it down to just 5, in no particular order.
Sound and Vision by David Bowie – The juxtaposition of a guitar rift with a synthesizer on this largely instrumental track is good enough, but when complimented with Bowie’s withdrawn lyrics, something truly special is produced. The song appeared on the album Low in 1977, and was later released as a single.
Munich by Editors – A song full or energy, Munich must be Editors at their best. Lead singer Tom Smith’s refrained vocal style adds real texture to a song that has shades of dark, but is driven by one of the best rifts ever committed to record. The track is taken from the album The Back Room.
Strawberry Fields Forever by The Beatles – Inspired by a young John Lennon’s memories of playing in the garden of a Salvation Army house named Strawberry Field, Strawberry Fields Forever is a psychedelic opus full of surreal meanderings. With strong classical overtones, the song works well on so many different levels. The track was released as a double A side single with Penny Lane in 1967.
Good Fortune by PJ Harvey – It is hard not to embrace Good fortune, with its layers of melody expertly performed with sarcasm by PJ Harvey. The song is perhaps as ‘pop’ as she is ever likely to get which makes it all the more unique. Good Fortune is also hugely positive, encouraging you to appreciate the good in your life. Taken from the album Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea.
Common People by Pulp – While Blur and Oasis may have dominated the headlines, for me this song more than any other brings back fond memories of the whole ‘brit pop’ phenomenon of the mid 1990s’s. The lyrics playfully create a vivid story of class division, whereby poverty is given a glamour that everyone wants to aspire to. The song is featured on the album Different Class.
Guests on the show also must choose one luxury, which must be inanimate and of no use in escaping the island, or allowing communication from outside. For me it would have to be some Jelly Beans; ok they wouldn’t last long but at least i would get some enjoyment for a bit!
Images taken from en.wikipedia.org