I’ve been listening to the cult BBC radio series Desert Island Discs for some years and have often thought about what my own selection would be if I was to get the phone call from the Beeb. (Yes. This is the sort of stuff that really goes on between my ears.) When I find new music that really appeals to me, I always ask myself, “Would it fit my selection for Desert Island Discs?” It’s been an incredibly difficult exercise to whittle down my favourite music to just eight tracks but I’ve given it a bash.
All Flowers In Time Bend Towards The Sun, a duet from Jeff Buckley and Elizabeth Fraser of Cocteau Twins fame
I’m a huge fan of the voice and music of Jeff Buckley. I stumbled across a reference to the haunting, gorgeous duet All Flowers In Time Bend Towards The Sun in the book Dream Brother by David Browne. The book explores the parallel lives of Jeff and his father Tim, both astonishingly gifted musicians who passed away tragically. The song was never released but somehow found its way onto YouTube. I’m not sure that it’s available anywhere else which is a real shame. It’s the most beautiful song you’ve never heard.
Everybody Wants To Rule The World by Tears For Fears
Everybody loves this song. Right? It captures a feeling. It’s anthemic. It makes your spirit soar. It’s the perfect music to drive to. It makes you feel like your life is about to begin. Right? Right?
Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm by the Crash Test Dummies
A strikingly unusual song that is both surreal and sad. The lyrics feature actual storytelling and character that is compelling. We have a boy whose hair turned white after an accident. A girl whose body is covered in birthmarks (and she couldn’t quite explain it, they’d always just been there), not to mention the boy whose parents lurched all over the church floor! The whole piece is unforgettable and otherworldly, and there’s a ‘love the freaks’ message in there too.
Let’s Get Away For A While by the Beach Boys
A gentle tropical themed instrumental that is sorely underrated. Just sink into a hammock and bliss out.
Take On Me by A-Ha
This is sort of my unofficial theme tune. Okay, I’m about to make it official. This song ignited a passion for the music of the eighties and an appreciation for the pop video.
Light My Fire by The Doors (with an honourable mention to The Alabama Song)
Why are songs so short nowadays? You’ve only just sunk into the music and it’s all over! I just love the freewheeling, spiraling Light My Fire released in 1967. I’ve been listening to The Doors for years and years and years and recently read Jim Morrison: Life, Death and Legend. (This is something of a trend for me, reading about gifted artists who died too young. I get to wondering if they gave too much of themselves away, or felt they had to live up to the image they created for themselves or they’d lose everything.)
An honourable mention to The Alabama Song. I love that it’s so tongue in cheek and subtly sinister.
It Was A Very Good Year by Frank Sinatra
And now for something completely different.
I love the storytelling in the lyrics of It Was A Very Good Year, the reflections and imagery connected to romantic experiences from the seasons of life. It makes me wonder how we would go about writing a song that encompasses our own life story.
When I was seventeen it was a very good year
It was a very good year for small town girls and soft summer nights
We’d hide from the lights on the village green
When I was seventeen
But now the days are short, I’m in the autumn of the year
And now I think of my life as vintage wine from fine old kegs
From the brim to the dregs, and it poured sweet and clear
It was a very good year
It was a mess of good years
A long, long time ago I taped this off the radio and it became the soundtrack to intensive three hour self-tanning sessions before nights out. Life was a lot of fun around that time, electronic music was everywhere, and we all wanted to be disc jockeys in Ibiza.