Desert Island Discs

May 27, 2017

For your bank holiday weekend enjoyment, here are my Desert Island Discs (DIDs). Thanks to Diane Jamieson Pond for the idea for this blog, I hope you enjoy my slightly random choices - you can listen to them by clicking on the links in the titles.




Top of the World - The Carpenters


My father died of testicular cancer in 1974 just before my sixth birthday – he was just 29 years old! I only had him in my life for a short time and he was taken from us before I had the chance to properly get to know him. 


What I do know is that along with reading, music was one of his great passions.  You may question his taste in music when you learn that this pretty cheesy tune from 1972 was the first – and possibly last – single he bought me.  So it is a natural choice for the first of my DIDs as it has particular sentimental value. 


I defy you not to smile as the music starts, it is such a happy little ditty.  Of course, Karen Carpenter, the singing half of the duo, had her own tragic story, dying at the young age of 32, succumbing to the demons of anorexia.  Her voice is so rich and pure as she delivers the beautiful lyrics – listen to them carefully – every time I hear the song, I truly believe that my daddy is sending me a message. 


My favourite lines:


There is only one wish on my mind
When this day is through I hope that I will find
That tomorrow will be just the same for you and me
All I need will be mine if you are here



What a Wonderful World - Louis Armstrong


Ah, Satchmo, what a voice, what a man!  Again, it is the words of this song which really speak to me.  This track from 1967 was a particular favourite of my ex-husband and I have chosen it as a tribute to him, for putting up with me for 25 years – over half my life as I write this blog. 


This is the shortest track in my DIDs, but in its 2:30 minutes, it never fails to put a smile on my lips and remember the many happy times I enjoyed during my time with KB.  And it reminds me that no matter how shit life may seem at times, there is always a glimmer of hope and a ray of positivity to be found.


My favourite lines:


And I think to myself, what a wonderful world. 



Come Undone - Robbie Williams


No DID list of mine would be complete without a track by my all-time favourite artist, the inimitable Robbie Williams.  I wasn’t a big Take That fan and actively disliked Robbie when he was part of the fivesome. However, I have followed him as a solo artist right from the outset, hooked from the moment I saw him live at an intimate concert at Watford Coliseum in 1999. 


It is tough choosing just one of his extensive back catalogue spanning over 20 years – my whole DID list could consist solely of Rob’s music.  However, this track is on my favourite Robbie album – Escapology – which was released in 2003, the same year as his legendary Knebworth concert which, as a diehard fan, I attended and ranks up there as one of the best and most memorable concerts I’ve ever been to.  


It describes Robbie’s well-documented battle with drug addiction and although I’m not an addict of any kind, the lyrics of the song resonate, such as “ need your love, so fuck you all” and “...such a saint but such a whore”.  I love the passion with which he sings the song.


My favourite lines:


I'm not scared of dying, I just don't want to
If I stop lying, I'll just disappoint you



Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien - Edith Piaf


I am half French (my mother was born in France and left when she was 3 years old during the war). Her middle name is Edith (pronounced the French way – Edeet – as for Piaf) and we believe this was a tribute to the “Little Sparrow”, as my grandmother LOVED Piaf and could be moved to tears listening to another Piaf classic “La Vie en Rose”.  So this song makes the list as a nod to my French heritage. 


I have a definite obsession with Piaf and her tragic life story, in love with a married man who would never be truly hers, who was the love of her life, but sadly died before they even had a chance of being together.  Her song “Mon Dieu” tells of her heartache due to this impossible love affair.  If you have the chance, watch the film “La vie en Rose” starring Marion Cottilard in the lead role to understand this iconic woman.


The title of this song translates as No, I Don’t Regret Anything and this is my mantra.  I honestly believe that everything in my life has happened for a reason and everything I have done and every decision I have made has been right at the time, so no regrets.  If something hasn’t turned out the way I hoped, I strive to find a positive and learn from it, rather than regretting it.


My favourite lines:


Car ma vie, car mes joies aujourd'hui, ça commence avec toi

(Because my life, because my joys, today, it begins with you)



You Give Me Something - James Morrison


Yet again, another song which reminds me of a man, one of a handful of true loves in my life.  I can’t name him but he knows who he is and I know that neither of us can listen to this song without remembering the wonderful, romantic, often agonising, times we shared together.


Listen to the lyrics, they speak for themselves, they tell our story, of a love that will never diminish, there is nothing else I need to say...


My favourite lines:


I was meant to tread the water now I've gotten in too deep


I never thought that I'd love someone, that was someone else's dream.



Brown Eyed Girl - Van Morrison


Another Morrison, this time Van.  As with Top of the World, the opening bars of this song are rousing and cheery, and immediately make me smile.  


Apart from loving the melody, it is the title of this song which I particularly like because I am a brown-eyed girl, and for some people who have come and gone – even stayed – in my life, I am THEIR brown-eyed girl. I hope you’ll listen and think of me as YOUR brown-eyed girl.


My favourite lines:


Sometime I'm overcome thinking about making love in the green grass
Behind the stadium with you, my brown-eyed girl



Changes - David Bowie


I was introduced to the music of the late, great David Bowie when I was 13 years old by a boyfriend and I was immediately hooked.  Not only his unique and unmistakeable singing voice - rich, deep, haunting – but also his looks – his different coloured eyes and his individual dress sense.  The boyfriend in question lent me his cassette of ChangesOne which I listened to ad infinitum, memorising every word uttered by this god.  I then progressed onto the iconic Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, Aladdin Sane and my all time favourite David Bowie album, Hunkydory.


I was fortunate enough to see Bowie in concert, just once, in 1989 at the now defunct London Arena on the Isle of Dogs.  We managed to stand so close to the front that I could almost make out his different coloured eyes.  I was mesmerised by the tall, slim, blond Adonis on the stage. When I learned of his passing as a result of cancer in January 2016, I sobbed for the loss of my hero, the man who taught me to appreciate music.


I have always been quite change averse but over the years, certain events in my life have forced me to become more accepting of the inevitability of change and whenever I am faced with change, I listen to the lyrics of this song and Mr Bowie helps me to deal with it.


My favourite lines:


Time may change me but I can't trace time

And so the days float through my eyes but still the days seem the same


Without You - Scouting for Girls


This is a recent addition to the DID list.  My current partner introduced me to the song when we got together nearly five years ago and it quickly became OUR song because the words resonated for both of us.  We were unable to be together and when we were apart, it was as if we merely existed, floating through life until the next time we were able to be together when we brought each other to life again, resuscitated each other.


I found love when I met him and Without You tells of the delight of being together and the sheer agony of being apart – that feeling of being raw and naked without each other.


We celebrate every week – at 22:53 on a Friday (the exact time and day when our fate was sealed) by listening to our song.  Sometimes, we are even naked.  Listen to the lyrics of the song and you’ll understand.


My favourite lines:


I know you're gone, cause I'm bruised and bleeding
And though it's wrong, I keep believing
the next time, I see you, we can make it all O.K
Cause I won’t let you walk away



Favourite Book


This would have to be The Time Travellers Wife by Audrey Niffenegger.


It is the story about Henry who has a genetic disorder which causes him to time travel unpredictably, and his wife, Clare, an artist, who has to cope with his frequent absences and dangerous experiences.


Initially, I found the book a challenge to read, as it jumps around a lot and is difficult to follow. It took me a few attempts and a lot of perseverance to make it past the first 100 pages. Once I  had broken this barrier, I was captivated and enthralled by what is essentially a beautiful love story.



Luxury item


Now you know my songs and the rationale behind the choices, but of course, if I was sitting across the studio from Kirsty Young she would end by asking me to nominate my one luxury item to take to the desert island.


It won’t surprise some readers to learn that I would take a vibrator with me, one which I affectionately refer to as Mr Blue (it is blue, simple as that).  However, “he” is battery operated so either I would need a lifetime supply of AA batteries, or I would need to find an adequate solar-powered replacement.


Why do I choose to take this particular item with me? I think I will leave that for you to work out...


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