Mr. B and I are huge fans of Desert Island Discs. For those unfamiliar, it’s a long running British radio series where presenter Kirsty Young asks castaways to choose eight records, a book and a luxury to take with them to the mythical desert island. The guests are all sorts of well known personalities from all manner of backgrounds and occupations. Quite apart from listening to favourite and well known personalities speak in a completely different forum, it’s also great to be introduced to people you’ve never heard of, often experts in their field, and actually learn something interesting. We’ve been listening to the downloadable podcasts for many years now, and I have always mulled over which 8 records I would choose if I were to be marooned alone on a desert island. Music has such a profound link to memory and emotion that it’s always quite revealing to hear the choices people make and the reasons behind them. So I finally gave this some serious thought and here are my choices. What do they reveal about me?
One Step Beyond – Madness
It was 1979 – the first live music gig I ever went to was Madness in Birmingham, where I grew up. They were beyond brilliant. I went with my best friend from school, and my sister Mich. We were so small the bouncers ushered us right to the front of the mosh pit and we were so close to a speaker that it seemed everyone was speaking with a lisp for hours afterwards.
I don’t need no Doctor – Ray Charles
I was a 60’s mod revivalist for a few years in the early 1980s. I loved the clothes, the music, the elitist nature of being part of a slightly underground movement. We weren’t the new parka wearing, Quadrophenia loving fakes. We were into original soul music and clothes of the era. Some of us still are – you know who you are. Love of this music genre has stayed with me, and listening to the old tracks transports me back to 1984.
When we first met, at Leicester Polytechnic back in 1986, Mr.B played this in his dodgy digs on high rotation. We once ditched college for the day, went down to London on the bus and spent a wonderful day at Regent’s Park Zoo. This track reminds me so much of the earliest days of us. The uncertainty and passion of falling in love.
In 1987, after graduating, I got my first job in London whilst Mr.B continued his post grad studies in Edinburgh. We lived apart for 2 years, and the longing between visits was almost unbearable. We wrote (how old fashioned) often and Mr.B made cards and sent drawings and once quoted from this song. I still have all his letters.
The Girl from Ipanema – Astrid Gilberto and Stan Getz
I went through a Bossa Nova phase in the late 1980’s. I love the Latin rhythms and that Astrid Gilberto seems so laid back she can hardly be bothered singing. We were in Morocco whilst inter-railing after finishing college, and we got terrible food poisoning. We hadn’t told anyone where we were, had no travel insurance and had almost run out of money at the end of our trip. We thought we might die in this strange land. Poor Mr. B requested I sing this over and over whilst we tried to recover before our horrendous 3 day train journey home. We made it, but had to be treated for severe dehydration on our return – I weighed 6 stone and my rucksack weighed 4 stone. Happy days!
I’ve seen The Gypsy Kings live 3 times, and they never fail to make me want to pack my bags and run away with them – even if they are middle aged and somewhat stout. I first heard this track when on a trip to Hong Kong with my first job. It was on a boat trip on the harbour. We sat on the upper deck, drinking beer and sunbathing to the soundtrack of The Gypsy Kings. It seemed so decadent at the time. I felt I had made it.
I’ve long been a fan of Van Morrison, and Moondance used to be my favourite after seeing the movie An American Werewolf in London. When my girls were little this was their favourite track on the album we played in the car. I can just picture them with their brown eyes sparkling and their hair bobbing whilst they danced. They are my brown eyed girls.
I love New York. I think it may be the most exciting, upbeat place I’ve ever been. I used to go there on business, to show the Edenstar range at trade fairs twice a year. I always travelled with my good friends and business colleagues Jennie and Melissa, and we had the best time. When I’m striding the sidewalks of Manhattan, this is the soundtrack in my head.
Originally posted 16/01/2014