I’m reading, and enjoying, ‘The Road to Little Dribbling”, Bill Bryson’s latest book, it’s a sequel to 1996’s  ‘Notes from a Small Island. I found myself Googling his name and there among the results was his participation in Desert Island Discs, a program that I used to listen to many years ago. Listening got me thinking, which seven titles would I choose were I ever put in that predicament. I could trawl through near 10,000 titles in my iTunes picking ‘possibles’ and then editing that list down to seven, that would take weeks, or I could just pick ’em off the top of my head; I chose the latter. And then I thought this would be an interesting post for the Spill, we have a group of dedicated listeners all with very clearly defined musical tastes, so the question is, were you to be confined to a desert island for the rest of your life, which seven titles would you take with you?

As a small bonus they let you also bring a book and one ‘luxury item’. I would choose ‘A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson’ plus my iPod, headphones and a solar battery charger.

What would you take? Here’s my list.

1. Wagner – Tristan und Isolde – Prelude.

2. Mahler – 5th movement: Finale – Chorus: “Aufersteh’n”Symphony No. 2


3. Bob Marley – Ex0dus,

4. Tangled up in Blue Bob Dylan

5 Little Girl Blue – Nina Simone

6.  West End Blues – Louis Armstrong


7. A day in the Life – Beatles.

Book – A Short History of Nearly Everything – Bill Bryson

Lux item: iPod,headphones, and solar battery charger.

22 thoughts on “DESERT ISLANDS!

  1. So difficult to narrow it down to 7. If you ask me tomorrow, they would be totally different.
    So I’m going with:

    Abigail Washburn – Bring Me My Queen
    Ella & The Inkspots – Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall
    Katzenjammer – God’s Great Dust Storm
    Dick Gaughan – Flooers o’ the Forest
    David Cross & Robert Fripp – Starless Starlight Loops
    Rory Gallagher – the Cuckoo
    Queens of the Stone Age – No One Knows

    My luxury item would be some sort of solar powered music player and my book? I have no idea. How about “The Little White Horse” by Elizabeth Goudge.

  2. I was just reading Lighthouse Keeper of Aspinwall so I guess this chimes well with that mood! This is a very tough call but off the top of my head I can say my seven will be, barring one, instrumental as I don’t think I can listen to the same lyrics, however good they are, for a prolonged period.
    * Mandolin Srinivas – Samajagaravadhana
    * Allman Brothers – Jessica
    * Jimi Hendrix – Star Spangled Banner – from Woodstock
    * Shakti – Joy
    * Kadri Gopalnath – Vathapi
    * Sukumar Prasad – Brova Barama, only clip I am adding as the others either I have shared or you all already know of. Warning: It is 21 minutes long.
    * K J Yesudas singing Bharathi’s Endru Thaniyum Intha
    And as for the book that is a much easier choice. It has to be Kamba Ramayanam.
    Re: the iPod – won’t that be part of the deal? If there is a device to listen to the music then my luxury pick will be a helicopter and a pilot. Just kidding. Lots of seeds and spices. If there isn’t a device then guess it has to be like GF’s and Ali’s choices – a solar powered player.
    It will be real interesting to see what others pick. Good topic GF.

  3. Keeps changing of course but this is the current list. Eight records cos that’s what they do on the prog. Book would either be The Wind Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murikami or The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (that keeps changing too).

    • Severin: I read Shadow of the Wind quite a few years ago, fabulous book!
      Then I discovered that the author lived in Long Beach Ca which is where I lived and that he based the book on a huge old bookstore in town, it was called Acres of Books. Wonderful place, I spent hours in there.

      • “The cemetery of lost books”. I would like to see it.
        Beautiful prose. I gather that it was translated from the Spanish by Lucia Graves who is Robert Graves’ daughter.

    • The List

      Ella Fitzgerald – Paper Moon
      Kinks – Lola
      Joan Armatrading – Love and Affection
      Velvet Underground – Venus In Furs
      Bhundu Boys – Manhenga
      Olivia Chaney – Holiday
      Culture – Two Sevens Clash
      Katzenjammer – God’s Great Dust Storm

  4. Venue – Remote mountaintop, not a desert island. Unless it was an Orkney or a Hebredie or a Shetland type.

    Music – A selection of canonical classical recordings that would have to be determined. I’ve already said that a project for my old age would be to learn classical music the way i learned art history, starting with bulls on caves. But i’m old already and i can’t forsee having the time to do so anytime soon. Maybe a guitar too, and i can learn to play.

    Book – War and Peace, haven’t read it yet.

    Luxury – Art supplies – pigments, mediums, binders, paper brushes, and and boards. Not a luxury, a necessity that surpasses music and books.

  5. I LOVE Desert Island Discs and thanks to the power of podcast , I never miss an episode. Also the BBC has done an amazing job of building up the archives over the last few years, which can all be downloaded (finally some good use of YOUR (not mine admittedly -ha ha!) licence fee!) for free. (GF – if you haven’t already found them, the available archives currently go back to 1956 and it looks like they are planning to make them available right back to 1942 –
    It’s interesting to hear the different styles and how the presenters interact with the guests, Kirsty Young is by far the best IMHO, but maybe she just fits the times better. Enhancing the power of music to evoke memories and and emotions is such a simple and genius idea, which is why it works so well of course. When Tom Hanks was on a couple of months ago and he started to get emotional and teary, he said something along the lines of “I think I put way too much thinking into choosing these tracks”, which is exactly the point. Long live DID!

    Anyway, the task at hand is an easy one for me because like most sane people I keep a DID file on my desktop with my 8 tunes, which I update every year or so. This is my current list (I won’t bore you with the whys and wherefores):

    Glen Campbell – Rhinestone Cowboy
    1910 Fruitgum Company – Goody Goody Gumdrops
    Napalm Death – You Suffer
    Pocahaunted – Divine Flesh
    Nirvana – Something in the Way
    Blur – Tender
    Guitar Wolf – Can Nana Fever
    John Callaghan – I’m Not Comfortable Inside My Mind

    Book – not sure, maybe some kind of massive music encyclopaedia
    Luxury – Word processor so I can finally write my bestseller!

  6. Oh so difficult:

    Seven tunes!

    Well i never tire of Stairway to Heaven so that’s no. 1, six others:

    2. Genesis – Supper’s Ready
    3. Gustav Holst – Mars Bringer of War – presuming I can’t have the whole Planet Suite 😉
    4. Frightened Rabbit – The Woodpile
    5. Alter Bridge – Metalingus
    6. Deep Purple – Sweet Child in Time
    7. Led Zep – Misty Mountain Hop

    Book – Lord of The Rings

    Luxury Item / Gadget – solar powered music player but assuming that’s a given then a solar powered gin distillery and ingredients.

  7. I’m not going to attempt to pick seven tunes: whatever you pick will get old if that’s all that there is to listen to. And, since most of the music I hear is in my head anyway, I’ll take a guitar (with a lifetime’s supply of strings) instead.
    I’m hoping that the island will support a couple of pot plants……
    Either I’d take Ulysses, so I can have many more attempts to get past page 50, or maybe Crime And Punishment: that may contain a salutary lesson for someone in ostensibly complete control of their world.

  8. I’ve been thinking about the list of music since GF posted this and I am finding it really hard to pick a mere eight pieces.

    The book is easier. My first thought was The Lord Of The Rings but I have read it so many times I know it off by heart. I think I’d take Marcel Proust’s À la recherche du temps perdu, in translation, because I’ve never managed to get more than 100 pages into it.

    My current thoughts on music are;

    Ralph Vaughan Williams Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis
    Bela Bartok Concerto For Orchestra
    Gustav Mahler Das Lied Von Der Erde
    Johann Sebastian Bach The Musical Offering
    Arnold Schoenberg Pierrot Lunaire
    Claude Debussy Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune
    Benjamin Britten Sinfonia da Requiem
    George Gershwin An American In Paris

    It is interesting that I have only picked orchestral music, but I am thinking that on a desert island I’d need music that would engage me on an intellectual level more than rock or folk.

  9. Carole: I had a similar problem plus the one offered by Chris, so I was tempted to select 8 of Mahler’s symphonies, I listen to them all quite regularly so there wouldn’t be a break in my routine. I’ve almost finished the Bill Bryson book that I started with; sadly I have to reassess it, it’s the worst book he’s ever written, he’s becoming a grumpy old man who constantly repeats himself. Don’t anyone here read it at my recommendation. But I stand by my book choice for the island, ‘The History of…. ‘ is a fabulous book if you’re interested in science and technology.
    Thanks to all who participated, we’ve created a wonderful playlist, BBC should publish it on the DID’s website.

  10. Wish I was a clever (and cultured!) as you all – or as clever as I am after the fact. Just about to post this and had the thought that if I was being banished to a desert island forever (and there would be support for this in several quarters 🙂 ) then I should pick songs that represent the seven stages of grief.

    But I had already decided I’d probably best make a playlist to help me face eternity and not keep my therapist too, too busy, so here you go:

    Jeff Buckley – A Satisfied Mind (Red Hayes cover)
    Aretha Franklin & Mary J Blige – Never Gonna Break My Faith
    Dawes – All Your Favorite Bands
    Barr Brothers – Please Let Me Let It Go
    Simone Felice – The Gallows
    Hans Theessink & Terry Evans (w Ry Cooder) – Shelter From the Storm (Dylan cover)
    Joe Cocker – I Can Stand A Little Rain

    Playlist (*crosses fingers*):
    [playlist ids="3889,3893,3897,3895,3892,3898,3891"]

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