Thursday, 2 June 2011

Desert Island Discs

In spite of the recent receipt of some scandalous information, we've still been sufficiently intrigued by Desert Island Discs' listener survey to establish the nation's Desert Island Discs to have a go ourselves (not least because I've touched on this before).

Given that my list of musical favourites fluctuates every time I think about it, my approach was to brainstorm a long list, then thin to a shorter one. Having my iPod to hand, I was able to quickly run through the list of tracks I've listened to most times ...
  • Electrolite OR Near Wild Heaven, R.E.M.
  • Dear Hearts and Gentle People, Bob Crosby and the Bobcats
  • Pornographer’s Dream OR It Makes Me Wonder OR When Heroes Go Down, Suzanne Vega
  • Road To Nowhere OR (Nothing But) Flowers, Talking Heads
  • Wish You Were Here OR Great Gig In The Sky, Pink Floyd
  • Up On The Roof, The Drifters
  • Kanada’s Death, Pt. 2, John Murphy
  • Hey Ya!, OutKast
  • Avril 14th, Aphex Twin
  • The Other Side, Michael Nyman
  • Candy Everybody Wants, 10000 Maniacs
  • God Moving Over The Face Of The Waters, Moby
  • Hoppipolla, Sigur Ros
  • Sunday Morning, Velvet Underground
  • Sinnerman, Nina Simone
  • Learning To Fly, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
  • Waiting For The Great Leap Forward, Billy Bragg
  • Like A Rolling Stone, Bob Dylan
  • Waking Up, Elastica
  • Heaven Sent, INXS
  • Parklife OR Coffee And TV OR Trimm Trabb, Blur
  • Warriors Of The Wasteland, FGTH
  • Is It Like Today?, World Party
  • Modern Love, David Bowie
  • You Got The Love, Candi Staton
  • Spring (Allegro), Antonio Vivaldi [Gil Shaham & Orpheus]
  • Moonlight Sonata, Ludwig van Beethoven
Thinning down was easy at first, but got progressively more difficult as I needed three, then two, then one final track. Worse, I found myself almost subconsciously juggling priority to ensure a balance of old and new, trendy and obscure, throwaway and worthy. So in the end, I more or less brainstormed the brainstormed list, and tried to think as little as possible about each track. Doubtless the list will change by, say, tomorrow, but it's a bit more honest that what my subconscious was secretly fashioning ...
  1. Electrolite, REM
  2. When Heroes Go Down, Suzanne Vega
  3. Road To Nowhere, Talking Heads
  4. Wish You Were Here, Pink Floyd
  5. Like A Rolling Stone, Bob Dylan
  6. Spring (Allegro), Antonio Vivaldi [Gil Shaham & Orpheus]
  7. Waiting For The Great Leap Forward, Billy Bragg
  8. God Moving Over The Face Of The Waters, Moby
Meanwhile, I put C on the spot, and whittled a list out of her in just a few short minutes. The first four came easy, and while the latter ones required a bit more thought, she still got there much faster than I did. And, I suspect, much more honestly (it's certainly more interesting). One thing that we did think about was how much the resulting list should reflect musical preference, and how much the choices should reflect memories. I plumped for about 50:50, and used this to leverage C's final tracks out of her ...
  1. My Girl, The Temptations
  2. Brown Eyed Girl, Van Morrison
  3. Your Song, Billy Paul
  4. Midnight Train To Georgia, Gladys Knight and the Pips
  5. Canon in D, Johann Pachebel
  6. See My Baby Jive, Wizzard
  7. Stand Down Margaret, The Beat
  8. Don't Stop Me Know, Queen
Anyway, the survey closes tomorrow, and a special programme on the nation's choices is planned for the 11th June. So we'll soon know what the Venn diagram linking the lists above to that general public's looks like. I'm not expecting much overlap. Nessun Dorma is bound to be on it, Bohemian Rhapsody might well make it, and I live in mortal fear of Imagine making a highly-rated appearance. The horror.

P.S. Deditos - looking forwards to reading the well-crafted DID list that you alluded to previously ...


Deditos said...

Aha, no prod necessary ;-). I've had a bit of a rethink since you put the proverbial cat among the pigeons with your scandalous revelations. (I'm surprised you weren't super-injuncted.) I'd always kind of assumed that the Beeb vetoes tracks on the grounds of taste or availability, but that ultimately the guest okays the final eight. It's disappointing to hear that the guest may not even be told "their" choice 'till the recording. Tsk.

My thought was that this is supposed to be an autobiography of sorts, and that each track should represent a particular thread of your life, without necessarily being your favourite song from each thread. I've also tried to pick songs that would sound okay in a 20 second clip. Anyway, the list:

1. Tame, Pixies
2. Winter, Tori Amos
3. Razzmatazz, Pulp
4. Metal Mickey, Suede
5. Milky Teeth, Tindersticks
6. Satan Wants Me, Luke Haines
7. Join The Dots, Roots Manuva
8. Old Virginia Block, Devon Sproule

Given the new long-list rules, the next eight are,

9. Vapour Trail, Ride
10. Sackville, Inspiral Carpets
11. Lady Day and John Coltrane, Gil Scott-Heron
12. Feel To Believe, Beth Orton
13. The Luckiest Guy On The Lower East Side, The Magnetic Fields
14. My Donald, The Unthanks
15. Revelator, Gillian Welch
16. (Marie's the Name) His Latest Flame, Elvis Presley

I'd be pretty happy for them to pick eight from the 16, as long as #4 and #8 were included because they're my (current) Funeral Songs.

Plumbago said...

Yes, the information about how the process worked for that DID guest came as a big shock to me too. I had expected the same sort of massaging of the list that you outline, but the idea that the producers might cull from a much larger list, let alone reshape the rationale for choices, never occurred to me. I suppose it's possible that this guest just had troublesome choices, but it didn't sound that way when I heard the story.

Anyway, re: your list, I'm afraid I'm far too much of a philistine to know most of those. I recognise, of course, the artists (well, almost all of them), but I'll have to visit the iStore to get a better handle on them. You've certainly managed to completely avoid inspiring any thoughts of over-familiarity, at least from me!

The funeral list concept, at least having one fleshed out, is an interesting one. I do sometimes think that such-and-such a song would be a good one while I'm listening to it, but I think I'd find it even harder to pin down that list. Probably simply because it's (obviously) altogether more terminal and not available for subsequent revision, with all the attendant dangers. For instance, how awful would it be to be run over by a bus the day after you, uncharacteristically, picked a duffer, say a momentarily enjoyable song from a musical?

That said, unlike DID, decorum would allow whatever you pick for a funeral song to be played out in full. Either part (or, worse, both parts) of Shine On You Crazy Diamond would probably be testing of just about any crowd of mourners, however bereft! ;-)

Anyway, I await your appearance on DID with baited breath ...