My desert island discs

As some readers will know, my radio station of choice is Radio 4, and has been so ever since I can remember. One of my favourite programs, and has been for many a year, is “Desert Island Discs”. Click here, here and here for helpful background to what follows. Every week a celebrity from a huge spread of walks of life is interviewed and is asked the question: if he/she were to be cast alone on a desert island, what eight gramophone records would he/she choose to take with him/her? Besides enjoying much of the music chosen, I enjoy this format whereby the interviewee speaks about his or her life between choosing the music and often reveals interesting and profound insights about his/her life I was not aware.


My choice of eight gramophone records to take with me if cast alone on a desert island are: 1. Times they are a changing (Bob Dylan), 2. Lily Marlene (Marlene Dietrich), 3. Beethoven’s Sixth Symphony (fifth movement), 4. How Great Thou Art (Elvis Presley), 5. You’re Gorgeous (Ladybird), 6. What a Wonderful World (Louis Armstrong), 7. Elgar’s Enigma Variations (Nimrod), 8. Handel’s Messiah (Hallelujah Chorus). As always is the case, there are many other choices of music that could be made but this I feel represents a fair balance and brings back some good memories.

1. Times they are a changing (Bob Dylan) – My teenage formative years were in the sixties, that many agree were remarkable times when the seed for many of the huge cultural changes we see now were sown. I could choose a Beatles or a Rolling Stones song but I will go with Bob Dylan as, besides liking his music, it well captures the mood of the sixties and the message of this song is something I am constantly being reminded of as I get older.

2. Lily Marlene (Marlene Dietrich) – I am told that this popular Second World War German love song was listened intently by both the British and the Germans and captured some of the mood, hopes and aspirations of the time. It was also one that meant a lot to my parents, who named my sister (Linda Marlene) after it.

3. Beethoven’s Sixth Symphony (fifth movement) – I suppose if you were to ask me who my favourite composer is it is likely to be Beethoven. I particularly like this piece as it reminds me that we may have to face storms (as in the fourth movement) but after there is peace and tranquility, happiness and thankfulness.

4. How Great Thou Art (Elvis Presley) – I learnt this Christian hymn in my youth and it has been a favourite ever since. I have on many occasions chosen this to be sung. As I look around me and contemplate, I can only concur with the author – how great thou (God) art, and who better to sing it than the legend which is Elvis.

5. You’re Gorgeous (Babybird) – this song came out in the early years of our marriage and both me and my wife have had goes at singing it even though we can’t sing. The lyrics make me smile and the song brings back a number of happy memories.

6. What a Wonderful World (Louis Armstrong) – when I speak I might give the impression that the world is anything but wonderful, but then I am reminded there many wonderful things in it as well, and who better to do this, and in doing so lift my spirits and make me smile, than this great jazz legend.

7. Elgar’s Enigma Variations (Nimrod) – Elgar is someone who is quintessentially British that has the gift of stirring our hearts toward greatness and love for country and family. When I listen to this piece, the main thing I do is remember the dead that have gone before me, sadly and mournfully yet with hope and honour.

8. Handel’s Messiah (Hallelujah Chorus) – I would if I could take the whole of Handels Messiah as it so wonderfully covers so much of the gospel message. While it amazes me that many choose this for non-religious reasons, my reason is essentially religious as I am reminded and can take heart that the Lord Jesus Christ will return to this Earth in glory – King of kings and Lord of lords.

After the records are played the interviewer asks the guests to select one record to save in case the others are washed away by the waves. My choice would be the last one. The guest also gets to choose one book, along with the Bible and the complete works of Shakespeare, both of which I would want to read anyway. My choice would be John Bunyan’s Pilgrims Progress as it reminds me that I too am a pilgrim on a journey. Finally, the guest is ask to choose an object to take of no useful value. Mine would be a collage of photos of family members, past and present, prepared by my wife.