Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Desert Island Discs

Recently a friend told me about a BBC radio program called Desert Island Discs. I haven't listened to it, but the premise is fun and the rules are simple:
Guests are invited to imagine themselves cast away on a desert island and to choose eight pieces of music to take with them; discussion of their choices permits a review of their life. Excerpts from their choices are played or, in the case of short pieces, the whole work. At the end of the programme they choose the one piece they regard most highly. They are then asked which book they would take with them; they are automatically given the Complete Works of Shakespeare and either the Bible or another appropriate religious or philosophical work. Guests also choose one luxury, which must be inanimate and of no use in escaping the island or allowing communication from outside.

Okay, so there we have it. Now, for my friend who asked and for anyone else who might be bored curious, my picks, arranged by when I became familiar with them:

Running to Stand Still — U2
If I could have the whole album (Joshua Tree) I would. This was one of my first CDs, passed down from my older brother. It was one of his favorites, too. There was no teen angst that was not soothed by this album and this song in particular. I feel at home when I listen to it, no matter where I am. 

Sweet Child o’ Mine — Guns N Roses Ditto above, except I didn’t know anyone else that was into U2, but knew plenty of GNR fans. My brother had a VHS recording of GNR live at the Ritz that I watched over and over. I bought all the GNR CDs, and the three CDs by solo band members. When I was learning to play guitar (acoustic) at 15, I had a crush on a guy who would call me up and play songs he was learning (electric); this was one of them. This song has been with me a long time and I still enjoy it, though I’m slightly embarrassed to admit it. 

Bareback Riding — Big Smith (poor quality vid doesn’t do the song justice, but gives the down-home taste of the shows of their early years)

If I had to pick a favorite band it would be Big Smith. All the elements are there for me. They were local and very popular. I began going to their shows when I was 15 and saw them every chance I got until I moved away a few years ago—and even then they happened to be playing at a festival 40 minutes from my house a couple years ago. It was the last year they played together; they retired the band and went on to do their own things. I’ve met them all, as well as some of their extended family, know where they work when they’re not playing music (half of them teach at the university), and I had an uber crush on the lead singer/guitarist for the first two years. I’ve never been closer to pure, natural musical talent. I love the music, I cannot deny. It’s so much a part of Missouri and part of me. This is my favorite of their songs.

You Sound Like Louis Burdett — The Whitlams 
When I became friends with an Australian when I was 16 we swapped gobs of music. This was one of my favorites and remains so. So energetic and so unique among my other music.

And It Stoned Me — Van Morrison 
Found this CD at a yard sale and found it so beautiful and soothing that I listened to little else for months, through some of the darkest times in my life. I have a fascination of water, so this song hits the spot. It’s so full of life; real experiences, tangible moments in time that I can relate to.

One of the first songs Denny ever shared with me. This whole album (Strict Joy) is one of my top 5; Hansard’s voice goes right to my core. But this; this is the theme song for me getting free of my bad marriage, for being brave when I was scared. This was Denny’s message to me. Such a beautiful song. I wanted to use the lyrics in “Free to Be,” but didn’t think it would fly with the copyright laws. “Well you have suffered enough and warred with yourself, it’s time that you won. Take this sinking boat and point it home, we’ve still got time. Raise your hopeful voice, you have a choice, you’ve made it now.” Trying not to tear up thinking about it.

Pulling Touch — Poi Dog Pondering 
Another of the first songs Denny shared with me, after we’d passed from friends to lovers. I enjoy the unhurried nature of the song; the band seems to take pleasure in making music and never rushes to add lyrics, but when they do they are generally thoughtful and very… human. With a bit of odd imagery. Like the VM song above, there’s so much in their music that I can relate to; simple, beautiful life stuff.

Old Old Fashioned — Frightened Rabbit Aaaand another one from Denny. I love the energy and the idea of tuning out the world and being old fashioned with someone—whatever one takes that to mean. I think of it as just connecting like real people.  So sweet and fun!  Like my life with Denny and the kids.

Cello suite #1 in G — Bach When I think about simply beautiful music, music without words that just grabs my attention whenever I hear it, it’s this. It just moves me so. 

If I had to pick just one?  Oh my...  I guess Bach.  I don't know if I'd ever get tired of it.

Book: The Princess Bride by William Goldman.
I had to put some thought into this. Denny grilled me, slightly horrified that I would choose a bit of fiction over something mind-blowing like Sagan’s Cosmos. The words, “Hellooo—The Princess Bride!” were apparently not explanation enough and had little effect on him. The movie is my favorite of all time, no contest. The book is even better. Cosmos might keep my brain sharp, but Wesley, Buttercup, Inigo, Fezzik, and Vizzini, et al, would all keep me company. What can I say? I love a good story. And Goldman’s creative telling of the tale, once you figure out what he’s done with the S. Morgenstern thing, is truly inspiring.

Luxury item: A word processor (with endless battery?). Natch.

Share yours in the comments, if you like.  I wouldn't mind getting to know some of you.  =)

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