Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Desert Island Discs; Or an Odd Team Building Exercise Reproduced

So, ever since that crazy team building day we went on at work, we've been condemned to hideously self-indulgent emails each and every Friday afternoon where people "open up" to the rest of the team and send out their Desert Island Discs.

It's kind of fun, despite the cloying me-me-me-ness of it all. And I put a fair bit of time into it (time I could've used to be blogging about something more meaningful than the endless cycle of celebs that seem to be following me), so I thought I'd stick my version of it up here.

Bear in mind that these are the songs I chose on 22 May 2009. "Ask for me tomorrow and, / you shall find me a [changed] man" etc.

I’d like to apologise to Michael Ball, Amy Winehouse, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Us3, The Jackson 5, The Cure, Nina Simone, The Communards, Jamie Cullum, John Paul Young, Chaka Khan and a load of other people who only made the long list.

Spooky: Dusty Springfield

This is my favourite song of all time. I don't know why, it just makes me happy every time I hear it. I think it's a perfectly crafted pop song.

Graceland: Paul Simon

This reminds me of summer holidays when I was little. We used to drive to the south of France for camping holidays (yeah, Sunsites!), and we must've listened to Dad's Graceland album about 1000 times over. A couple of summers ago, some mates and I drove to the south of France on another holiday. It turns out all three of used to go on pretty much the same camping holidays, and all three of us remembered listening our dad's versions of this album...

Stone Roses: Love Spreads
Aged 12 or 13, guided by my brother and sister, I was getting into Radio 1. I clearly remember the morning when I first heard this song on Simon Mayo's breakfast show. The lyrics really hit me, and I think it's a great riff too. This led to a terribly serious obsession with what became Britpop.
Apologies to Oasis, Pulp, The Bluetones, Gene, Shed Seven, James et al.

Robbie Williams: Let Me Entertain You

I was a bit too old for Take That (and seriously – in all senses of the word – into the "proper" guitar music my brother was peddling to me at the time), but I still loved Robbie. I know he's an idiot, and not that great a singer, but you can't really fault him as a performer out to please a crowd. I think this song, and the video is hilarious. My sister, who works in Music TV and has met him a few times, blagged us free tickets to see him at Knebworth: I spent the first 5 minutes of him being on stage whispering to myself "Don't faint, don't faint, don't faint". I don't think she would've been too impressed if I had.
Apologies to the rest of Take That: I love you all too. Equally. Apart from Howard. And Jason.

Overture: West Side Story
I was lucky enough to play this piece when I was in the Northants County Youth Orchestra: officially the second best county youth orchestra in the country - woo. (Damn those winners from Berkshire.) Despite being terrified for most of the two years I was in the orchestra (the conductor was vey fierce), playing this was a total highlight. It’s a remarkable piece of music: you can hear the fights, the city, the clubs, people flirting, people falling in love, girls chatting, boys dancing, and the sun rising all in the genius of Bernstein's composition. It's bloody hard to play!
Apologies to Shostakovich, Beethoven and Mussorgsky and lots of others: I liked playing you too.

Michael Buble: Moondance
For some reason I got really into old-school Rat Pack / Big Band stuff in my final year at uni. (Blame Michael Parkinson's Sunday morning show on Radio 2. He’s got a lot to answer for: his round-up of what to see and do each week made me want to become an arts journalist.) At the time he was championing this Canadian guy called Michael BublĂ©; I think he's got a lovely voice, and I love all the old swing he sings as well as the modern stuff. Everyone takes the piss out of me for it: my friends call him Mickey Bubble, but I don’t care.
Apologies to the real heroes: Frank, Nat, Dean, Sammy, and all the rest.

Kylie: Can't Get Out Of My Head
Again, pure pop, and another song I will never tire of hearing. I remember dancing around with my uni mates to this song a few weeks before I left for a teaching job in Italy. Because of the way the European pop music charts move (they don't), I was still dancing around to it 6 months later in dodgy Roman clubs with a new bunch of friends. And again, with new friends, another 12 months later in slightly classier bars in Madrid. Living abroad, you watch a lot of MTV; every time this ace video came on, I could remember my mates back home, and know that they'd still be dancing too.
Apologies to Madonna, Girls Aloud and All Saints who failed where Kylie succeeded

Let It Be: The Beatles
Like everyone with a semi-Scouse heritage, I have what I believe to be an amazing connection with the Fab Four; my mum lived on the same street as Paul, and they used to ride around on his bike together. Mum still makes claims about "the pull of the Mersey": she was thrilled when I chose to do my undergrad at Liverpool. We listened to The Beatles without any sense of irony in my halls of residence off Penny Lane in the first year (ahh, being 18). This song sometimes makes me cry, but I think if I were alone on a desert island, it might calm me down in more stressed moments, just as it did when I occasionally got v homesick teaching abroad.

My Book
Most of you know, I’m pretty much happy with the Complete Works of Shakespeare. Anything else is just a cherry on top of a well-iced, beautifully made, utterly delicious, totally satisfying cake. My cherry, then, would be The Count of Monte Cristo by Alex Dumas. One of the silliest, longest, surreally brilliant, excellently crafted revenge/love stories ever.

Luxury Item
I’d like a supply of blue biros and moleskin notebooks with lined pages. Bestselling memoirs, here we come.


  1. Yaay Dumas!
    (& Love Spreads, obviously)

  2. Apologies to the Bluetones indeed Z, I'm shocked!

    I remember Love Spreads too. There was a lot of fuss about it being their first release for years, so the video was premiered on TOTP. I sat, watching a very square television, and then it came - that riff. Unforgettable.

    I had no idea your favourite song of all time was Spooky. I first heard it on the Lock Stock soundtrack, I think.

  3. Sorry D! As I said, it's my list for that day of that week of that month, of that year, etc etc. It could, would and probably should change given any variables from wind direction to location while making the decisions, I'm sure!

    As for that Dusty track: I just think it's perfect in every way. I'm never bored of hearing it; always smile when it shuffles to the top of my ipod, or whatever...

    Anyway, dude, what are yours?!