Desert Island Discs – The Self Isolation At Home Edition

Thursday 9 April, 2020

So i’ve not been watching films, or telly, or knitting, playing games, or reading novels – fictional or otherwise, or building lego or basically doing anything really productive and I haven’t since my mum was in hospital. So what have I been doing?

Listening to music whilst flitting through social media. I mean, my friends and I have been calling each other more, which has been nice, but they can’t be on the phone all day, every day and quite frankly I wouldn’t want them to be. It’s no secret i’m an introvert at heart.

But the music… I always go back to music, whether it’s on the radio, or incessently listening to the same CD on repeat for weeks on end, playlists both sloppily put together or curated with care, it’s music. I can and have layed there with nothing to do for hours on end, just listening to music. It’s what helped me get out of my house when I was going otherwise trapped in my bedroom, between bouts of bed rest. Quite frankly if it was physically possible, I’d be going back to those live music clubs I used to go to ten years ago. But I can’t physically do that anymore, and anyway, we’re in lock down.

And I got thinking, the way you do when you’ve gone stir crazy, if I was on the show Desert Island Discs, what recordings would I choose? And then I changed the format because it’s much easier to think about 5 albums than eight single recordings, a book and a luxury item, when nothing but music is appealing right now.

1) The first album has to be a Beatles one. I can’t be a Beatles fan and not choose to take a Beatles album with me, and so I choose Magical Mystery Tour. It’s one of my three favourite albums by The Beatles. And when I was younger, me and my Dad would play chess to either that album or Sgt. Pepper’s, my other favourite album. I hardly ever won – I’m far too chaotic to be strategic, but every now and then I think my inability to strategise would throw him off and I’d get a lucky checkmate. He did not let me win. Trust me, my Dad is not the type of man to let you win just because you’re a child or his own daughter, it was a dog eat dog world when we played chess.

My favourite song on the album is Penny Lane. I love the descriptions and it’s a story of a morning in Penny Lane.

Confession: Despite being on the same bus route for many years, I have never ever been to Penny Lane.


Album 2 – KT Tunstall’s Acoustic Extravaganza. Oh let me wax poetical about how beautiful this album is. I absolutely love KT Tunstall, I think her on a half arsed day – not that she’s ever had any! – would save the world. If she turned up at my door with a washboard and only hummed at me for an hour, that would be the best hour of my life.

Her voice is just amazing, her guitar playing is perfect, she has the perfect soft tone for softer songs, and then can wrack it up for a more hard rockier sound, and she just seems like such a lovely person? This CD comes with a making of, and watching the process of her making this album was just… it was like watching a shooting star in the sky. And I got this for christmas off That Old Friend We Don’t Talk About in 2007, and I just fell in love with the album ever since.

Her first album – Eye to the Telescope – is great, do not get me wrong, she has perfect production on all her albums. But this acoustic album? It’s just so beautiful. I listened to it on repeat for weeks until I switched over to Drastic Fantastic (Given to me for Christmas off my Dad), which I then also listened to on repeat, until I just made one whole KT Tunstall Playlist of all three of her albums out at that time.

And I already loved Universe & U from Eye to the Telescope, but the acoustic version on this album? Honestly, it made me cry. I’m only a little bit embarrassed to admit that. Her and her guitar are in perfect harmony. Why would I not want that with me on a desert island?


Album 3 – A Night At The Opera by Queen.

I got given this album from my Dad, for Christmas in 2006. My Dad will claim until he’s blue in the face that he is not a Queen fan, and that this is the only album worth listening to. This is the same man who had half of their albums on records, and got them again on CD, and knows some odd details about the business side of the band that I’m sure only hardcore fans would know and bother remembering. But, he’s not a fan and doesn’t actually like their music. Okay. Sure.

My mum was the bigger fan, either way.

So when I first really got into them, not just liking what I heard when I heard it on the radio/telly/movie soundtracks, but going out of my way to listen to their albums, I borrowed my Dad’s albums and found his copy of A Night at the Opera skipped. Under the guise of wanting me to listen to The Only Queen Album Worth Listening To, he got me my own copy later that year for Christmas.

And, just like i usually do, I put it in my CD player and I listened to it on repeat for weeks. This wasn’t like Queen I or Queen II or News of the World or The Works, this was something else. I could understand what my Dad was saying about it being the best. I don’t agree that the others aren’t worth listening to (and clearly neither does he since he still has those albums on CD, and that they’ve survived multiple moves and big clear outs). The production is tied together better than their first two albums and there’s a song for every mood on that album.

But it’s not just for the musical reasons I’d want this album with me, it’s because my Dad is a ridiculous man who clearly wanted to share this album with me but for some reason wants to pretend he’s not a fan.

And choosing my favourite song is difficult, and the best I could narrow it down to is two favourite songs. And hey, this is my format and so I say it’s okay. The first is Lazing on a Sunday Afternoon. It’s so light and airy and fun! And it’s short, so it’s okay that I’ve got two favourite songs.

Just the imagery the song gives of a dapper dressed man going about his weekly business in the Edwardian Era. And the way Freddie sings “Fridays i go painting at the looooooOoOoOoOovre”. It’s just fun!

Which nicely counteracts the severe heart ache that ’39 can give me if I listen to it on the wrong day. Because that’s my other favourite – ’39. Brian May’s voice is so soft and his guitar playing goes without saying, really. And the story the song gives, it’s just so vivid. One of the first things one of my friend’s said to me, whilst we were fresh faced uni students bonding over music in our hall’s flat hallway, was that songs that tell a story always have more heart to them than generic songs that rely on cliches, and it seems obvious, but it’s true. I love The Beatles, but Love Me Do, I Wanna Hold Your Hand or Day Tripper don’t exactly tell a story, do they? But ’39 does. And it’s beautiful and yet sad at the same time.

Confession: I didn’t realise on the first few hundred or so listenings that it was about people going in to space and coming back 100 years later (i’ve got form for this). It wasn’t until about four years later that I twigged what the lyrics meant. Which beats my Dad by about 40 years because it was only just before Christmas last year when he knocked on my door and excitedly explained to me what the song was about.

But it is beautifully sung, with beautiful instrumental arrangement intertwining, and beatiful imagery. It might make me sad, but I think I’d be more sad not being able to hear that song, along with the rest on the album, ever again.


Album 4 – McFly’s RadioActive.

In all honesty, I was depressed when this album came out. My life was just on a stale mate, trapped in an inaccessible house, contained to one floor so I had access to the bathroom. I didn’t feel like I had a reason to get out of bed, or go to sleep, or exist.

This album felt alive.

I got the free one first, which I now regret because of the lack of integrity of the newspaper it was available in – And then the full album came out a few months later, after I started at Uni. I missed the McFly signing in Liverpool because I had to move into campus the same day.

There is not one bum song on the whole album. That’s not to say there’s some songs I like less than others, but there’s no downright bad song. I believe it was made with heart, and it was all of their tastes coming together to be shared with us, the fans, who all had similar tastes. It was Wonderland without the taste of Emo, it was MITO: The PHD Years.

And in 2009, it was my saving grace, as I went to see the band on their Radio:Active tour more than once.

I hear the album now and I think of pushing through hard times, and it doesn’t hurt to remember those times. I think of summer warmth, I think of friends, I think of crappy access I suffered through and came out on the other side knowing how to write strongly worded letters.

My favourite song is Everybody Knows. This was another hard decision to make, and yet not quite. It mentions ships!! I’m only half kidding about that reasoning.

I think the real favourite would have been POV, but the acoustic version, which is not on this album, is a nicer version than the full sound version that is on this album. And I love Smile, Do Ya and Going Through The Motions but not as much as Everybody Knows. (It mentions ships!!). It’s lively, it’s got good lyrics (it mentions ships!!) and good guitar. So I guess you can say, it sails above the rest!

(Also sometimes when they sung it live, they swapped ship for shit which amused me on a See No Evil, Hear No Evil level)


The 5th and Final Album – The Wizard of Oz Soundtrack.

No i’m not joking! I think a soundtrack would be a nice variety to what I’ve already chosen, and it’s a very good sountrack. The Wizard of Oz is a childhood classic that I’ve overwatched and listening to the soundtrack is like watching the film, without wacthing the film. And it has the extra tracks they didn’t use in the film!

It’s light and fun, and it’s dramatic and heart warming. And I like the idea of being on a deserted beach, sitting on a rock somewhere belting out If I Were The King of the Forest.

I got this album on a multi-buy sale from HMV, but I don’t know when. I just know that sometime, somewhere between April and May 2009, I fished it out of my CD case,  I put it on repeat and only took the occasional break from it to listen to Radioactive by McFly.

There’s nothing really deep about it, it was just a fun album from the dark days of monotony.

My favourite song from the album is Jitterbug. It was a song they filmed a scene and dance sequence for, but never used in the film itself. I don’t know what it is I like about it, because it’s jaunty but creepy and, of course because Judie Garland is carrying most of the song, it’s sung perfectly with a warm depth.


Notable albums I’ve neglected to mention:-

Breakout by Miley Cyrus – Not my album. Me and my uni flatmates listened to this almost exclusively whenever we were all in the kitchen together the first month at uni.

2 by The Calling

From Now by Rik Waller – It’s honestly never a good sign when I start listening to this album, because it means I’m stuck being nostalgic over a specific time frame in my life, and listening to it usually makes me more sad over that time. But Rik Waller, despite all of his faults that came across during his stint as a celebrity, has a lovely voice. It’s mostly a cover album, but  I believe the song From Now is an original, and that’s easily my favourite.

Unbreakable by Westlife – Don’t ask. But Bop Bop Baby is my favourite song from the album.

Space Oddity by David Bowie

Let It Go by Avril Lavigne

Justified by Justin Timberlake – Again, not my album.

The Labyrinth Soundtrack