Monday, 6 August 2012

My Desert Island Discs

I recently promised that I would share my eight picks for Desert Island Discs just as Stephen is doing over on his blog. For once, it's a promise I'm keeping. 

I've said this before but I make no apologies for repeating myself (hey, this blog needs to be filled up somehow) in saying that I love Desert Island Discs and the stories it can throw up. For those guests that you know - or think you know - you often get additional info and tit-bits of background that you wouldn't otherwise here. For those guests that are lesser known, the whole interview can be an eye-opener.

Likewise, the musical choices - and reasons for them - can be revealing. Is the person emotional, sentimental, analytical? Have they opted to tell the story of their life and loves or just to take tracks they like? Have they thought about the context of the island - "I'm going to need something to dance to, or to cheer me up" or have they literally picked their favourite eight discs?

So, having opened up in your mind the idea that this post could be somewhat psychologically revealing - make of this what you will:

1. Handel's Sarabande: I've loved this ever since I first heard it - it's beautiful slow cadence and sombre mood just stir something in me; it's tranquil and serene whilst still building to a climax. I used to have it on my list of tracks to be played at my funeral - and it still would be if I thought about it long enough to commit my wishes to paper.

2. Rachmaninoff's 2nd Piano Concerto: You would have to go a long way to top this, I reckon. A melodic triumph of Russian Romanticism and a piece of music I can truly lose myself in.

3. A recording of H-H-Hancock's Half Hour. The obvious choice would be The Blood Donor but, so as to be so obvious I shall ask for The Poetry Society which is the one I normally cite as my favourite.

4. I would absolutely have to have something by Texas and I think I Want To Go To Heaven would be my choice. It's from their second, less commercial album Mother's Heaven when their sound was more guitar-laden than later albums. Of course, I would take ANY of their tracks, even from their less popular albums!

5. Annie Lennox, Cold. Another Scottish female singer to keep me company with one of the tracks from her first solo album:- Diva. If you don't have a copy, why not?

6. Howard Shore's score for The Lord of the Rings. If I can't have the three individual albums, then the Symphonic Version would be appreciated. I could listen to it and imagine the I was watching the films...

7. Dusty Springfield, Son of a Preacher Man. I'm not sure a comment is required on this choice - Dusty Springfield is, quite simply, one of the best singers to have ever committed their voice to vinyl or any other medium.

8. Pete Murray, Opportunity. This choice is a bit leftfield, but my sister brought the album this is on (See The Sun) back from Oz for me. He's an Australian Singer-Songwriter and the album appears to only be available as import-only - so it makes it a sort of secret pleasure of my own, as few others in the UK have heard of him. This is my favourite track from that album.

My book would have to be, with no question, The Lord of the Rings. I could read it with the film soundtrack on in the background. That, my friends, is called joined up thinking.

My Luxury? Soap - an endless supply of either Cusson's Imperial Leather, Pears or Wright's Coal Tar.

Finally, if (as Kirsty Young would say) the waves to crash to shore and sweep away all the discs, the one I would save would have to be the Rachmaninoff - it could transport me away on waves on emotion and wash over me in waves of melodic joy.

Of course, this is my list as of today... ask me to do it again and some of the above would no doubt change. Anyway, analyse my choices if you wish - and have a stab at it yourself!



Raybeard said...

It's extra-illuminating when one sees the list revealed in one go like this.
Could say so much about several of them - but #4, 5 & 8 I don't know until I play them. (Though I'm sure I'll know Annie's as soon as it starts.)

For the moment, let's take your #1:-
Wasn't quite sure what you meant by H's 'Sarabande', as he wrote so many. But as soon as I followed the link and saw 'Barry Lyndon', I knew before playing it - but which I did anyway.
(Btw: Kubrick, my favourite of all film directors always seems to have a big hole, but a different one, in each of his masterpieces. In this film, that 'hole' - maybe preceded by an 'a'!) was Ryan O'Neal, such a dud for the title part when the rest of the film is so gloriously sumptuous.)

The Sarabande is very profound music - surely solemnity gets no deeper than this.
I can well appreciate how it stirs such deep emotions.

Will return to your others shortly. Meantime got to get round to preparing my own definitive list and 'expose' myself suchwise by posting that too.

Stephen Chapman said...

It's a wonderfully varied list, especially the soap. :-)

I SO wanted to include some comedy (and perhaps I have...or haven't). Choosing 8 is impossible eh?!

I cant see how anyone could dislike Annie or Dusty.

Raybeard said...

My Part 2 (with one eye and one ear on Olympics going on in background):-

I actually didn't know 'Cold' - and it's a damn fine one. (I see it got to just #26 in the 1992 charts but, even so, I ought to have picked it up.)

'Son of a Preacher Man' - is regularly cited as Dusty's finest single release, and perhaps it is. But purely as a song I personally think her single released immediately prior to this, 'I Close My Eyes' is even greater. I just love that ABCABC form, with the three disparate parts being so different from each other, yet melding into a satisfying whole, her voice doing full justice to it all.
I must add, though, that as with all your choices, your own mental associations with what you've chosen are personal to only you alone, something no other person can possibly fully appreciate. For this reason I would never deride ANYONE'S choices, and a choice of Dusty one of the least of all.

I must have heard 'The Poetry Society' sometime - I surely have heard them all, probably more than once for all of them. But I can't pull that one out of my memory.

Your choice of 'Lord of the Rings'? Maybe you can go one better. I'm thinking that somewhere there just might be 'The Hobbit', 'The Silmarrilion' and 'Rings' all bound together in one volume - though it would have to be one hell of a cathedral door-stopper of a book!

Thanks for this post, Andrew. It was fun reading and commenting on it. If only this idea would catch on so that we could see the choices of ALL our respective blog-pals.

Raybeard said...

One further thought re Dusty.
I think if a poll of her admirers were taken, top of the list would almost certainly be 'Going Back'. I believe that even composer Carole King (as she then was) chose Dusty's as her favourite version.
But your choice is YOUR choice, of course.