desert island discapades

My Brother and I have recently stacked our Fiio DMPs to the brim with lovely lossless tracks.

This led to a discussion of what we played the most and what were our favourite or “the best” tracks and albums.

Somehow we agreed to use the Desert Island Discs format (a BBC Radio 4 programme of retirement age), to come up with 8 tracks, 1 book and a luxury we would like with us if we were castaway on a desert island.

The DID format is a bit quirky – a record mainly amounts to a track with a specific person signing, unless it is classical – then you can select the whole opus, but dont seem to be able to choose the performers. The glaring exception to this was Elizabeth Schwartzkopf, who – possibly misunderstanding the nature of the programme – chose 8 of her own recordings.

The luxury item cannot have any practical use – so a Gerber Dime, or a fleece blanket are not allowed. My favourite choice in the radio programme was someone whose name has longsince faded from memory, while his choice is remembered: “I’ll have a car door, so i can wind down the window when i get too hot” – totally the spirit of DID, even in the age of electronic window mechanisms.





DJ is a photographer, chef, walker, and EDC enthusiast.

He is devoted to Arsenal in a way that only other men can understand. In their current form, each match requires a lot of avid chewing to prevent ground down teeth – he consumes a large packet of Haribos per match to this end.

He is the generator of our DID idea



Musically I was set free to explore my inner terrorist by pogoing to punk. My music tastes are now often more sedate, and tend to centre around world music and girls with guitars whining about their sad lives.
This is not reflected in the music I want to take to the desert island. Also most of my top 10 favourite albums don’t even get a track for the island. This is because i wanted to have music that would remind me of joy and happiness, music to dance to, so that i don’t give up and lie under a tree until I expire, and music that will allow me to rage and feel better for it.

Although I like my own company, and don’t tend towards boredom or loneliness, alone on a desert island might be a different prospect – my choice is removed. So I think I will mainly be okay or even happy, but sometimes despondent.

My book of choice is Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse as it has so much in it, and I wonder whether I will still identify with Lily Briscoe after 6 months on a desert island, or whether self-determination will be the unlikeliest of things.

I thought of about 10 different luxuries I’d like, but most of the either bordered on forbidden usefulness (flippers, a big soft cushion, binoculars), or oblivion (drugs, alcohol, chocolate,etc etc).

So in the end, I decide on a glass bottle filled with sand. Possibly a conceited choice, but my thinking is that I will sometimes need a reminder that luxuries on a desert island include water, food, and shelter, and thinking about a past life I no longer live is not useful.

Gary Pucket & the Union Gap - Young Girl



This is the kind of track that could be part of a hindsight legal suit for inciting abuse of minors in our present revisionist history of the 60’s and 70’s political climate. And in truth, the lyrics are dodgy, but for me it will always be a reminder of being a small child standing up in the back seat of my uncle’s new shiny yellow Ford Escort, and everyone singing along at the top of their voices. Of course it was always summer then, and we were always happy!

I still have this track on my “Joyous” playlist.

Kate Bush - Wuthering Heights


Never had there been anything that sounded like this on TOTP. Was it poetry? Was it melodic screaming? Whatever it was, we were studying Wulthering Heights for O level so it was a wonderful serendipity that kept this on repeat on our school common room record player while we were revising.

This track still makes it onto every portable music player i have ever owned.


Stray Cat Strut - The Stray Cats



Implausibly, for about 6 months, this seemed to be the theme track of the Wolves Poly Women’s Group and radical friends!
Every Wednesday, we would go to our occasionally po-faced, usually self-gratifying women’s group from 7-9, then head to the Student Union Disco and dance to this!


Mahler's 9th Symphony


I kept changing my mind between the 8th and 9th, but in the end I think that the 9th would be a more useful listen alone on a desert island – its got despair, confusion, joy, resolution, and bits you can dance to!


Car Wheels on a Gravel Road


I didn’t know I could like (modern, alt)Country Music until I heard this confident, passionate album from Lucinda Williams, and became one of her legion devotees.


Siouxsie and the Banshees - Hong Kong Garden


Another uni/poly favourite. Still not sure what some of it means, but i cant hear the first bars without smiling and wanting to dance


Nirvana - Smells like teen spirit


It was a choice between this and a Patti Smith track. I almost chose Patti Smith’s cover of this as a compromise.
I still might swap this track out for Because the Night. What they have in common, is singability, dancability, and both can be sung while raging or crying, and there is a potential for both on a desert island, where i am going to have to do things i am not good at.


Parliament -Funk (wants to get funked up)


I wandered into a record shop in the 90s and heard this, and it lead to a new direction for my music collection, as –  baring music from Superfly – funk had more or less passed me by.
Was there ever a more joyous, summery track?
It will help me with boogeying my funk on the desert island