The long running BBC Radio 4 programme ‘Desert Island Discs’ invites people along to choose 8 pieces of music that they would bring with them to a desert island. While in later years Sue Lawley just ploughed on interviewing the guest like the jounalist she was, ignoring the music altogether, the originator Roy Plomley used to let the music choices, and the reasons behind them, do the analysis of the guest for him.
Recently on the radio someone got people to set their iPods to shuffle, and list the next ten songs that came up. A lot of the people seemed to cheat, since the songs seemed to be all classics, and had nothing that you’d be embarrassed at.
So I’ve decided to try it. I reset the iPod, swore I wouldn’t cheat, set it to shuffle, and these are the ten songs that came up:
Meds – Placebo
S-H-I-N-E – Stephane Grappeli
Staralfur – Sigur Ros
Be My Lover – Alice Cooper
Stepping Stone – Jimi Hendrix
The Night Before – Beatles
O Mio Babbino Caro – Puccini
Down Slow – Moby
Grapefruit Moon – Tom Waits
Post Blue – Placebo
Right. Great. I can see now why people cheat. 775 songs to choose from, and it came up with that lot? The list says nothing at all about the real me – how would people know my favourite type of music if there’s no Who, Stones, Led Zeppelin or Deep Purple? Only one piece of classical music, and it’s not Bach Or Mozart. No Smiths!!!
Still, looking at it again, it’s not that bad. There are two songs by Placebo, who are possibly the only band ever of whom I’ve owned every single album, and while I’d rather something from Sleeping With Ghosts, I’m glad they are there. The Beatles are in , though again, it’s not the song that I -or I’d dare say anybody- would choose. The Hendrix song is terrific. The Sigur Ros track (and, unbelieveably, their song Vaka has just come on the iPod as I’m typing this) shows that I’m as big a sucker for clever marketing as the next person (I think I like the album, but it a bit like Bjork meets whale-song, and since Bjork’s lyrics sound like an explosion in a fireworks factory at the best of times, it’s a pretty weird combination). The Alice Cooper song is from a greatest hits CD I bought for a fiver, and every song on it is brilliant.
Best of all though, it has the best song from my favourite album of all time, Tom Waits’s Closing Time. There are so many great tracks on it, but Grapefruit Moon is the one I like most.
So I guess it sorta works. Try it.
(I have to admit I did try another ten just to see if they were better, and I got what I deserved. I’ll just say Dire Straits and the Police).