Living on an island.

‘No man is an island’ is a phrase that most people will have heard at some point or another, and even if the original poem Meditation XVII by John Donne (1572-1631) doesn’t fall readily from your lips, the concept of people not thriving in isolation is simple enough to grasp.

However, there are times in life when one yearns to be alone. For me, one such time is when listening to music. Or trying to. I don’t mean music per se. I am sure that attending a concert, only to discover that I am the only one in the audience would make it awkward for me and the band. I may be renowned for being noisy (ask Rachel), but even I can’t make enough noise to fill an arena. The idea of Ozzy Osbourne shouting “LET’S GO FUCKING CRAZYYYYYY!” to me, as I sit alone in the front row of the Hammersmith Apollo is a little strange, even for an Ozzy concert.

Music is for the masses.

Dessert Island Discs feature pic

When it comes to live music I am more than happy to be part of a crowd. But, a certain type of music gives me a yearning for solitude. Music that Rachel doesn’t like.

It is usually when we are travelling in the car that my phone decides it’s time to annoy Rachel. I have yet to work out how it does it, but the engineers at Apple have very cleverly programmed the iTunes shuffle mode to select songs that drive Rachel mad. I can drive alone for days, happily singing along to all my favourite songs, but as soon as my phone detects Rachel in the vicinity, iTunes gets mischievous.

A favourite of the iTunes demon is Mother from the Synchronicity album by The Police.

Admittedly, it is an odd song, and a bit frantic, but much of what Andy Summers writes is an acquired taste. I happen to have acquired it, Rachel hasn’t.

The song barely gets through the first line of:

Well the telephone is ringing,
Is that my mother on the phone?

before Rachel is stabbing at the screen trying to skip it.

Mother by The Police

#AndySummers' songs are an acquired taste. I happen to have acquired it. #DesertIslandDisc Click To Tweet

I am sure the iTunes demon chuckles to itself as it selects the next song. This one isn’t frantic. Something by Portishead starts playing. After a huge sigh and a mimicking action of slitting her wrist, she again stabs at the phone to get it to move on. The demon gives it some more thought.

She clearly doesn’t like anything that is frantic or melancholy. How about something that is frantic and melancholy? Muse. At least I think it’s Muse. I hear the initial piano chords, but as soon as it gets to the part where Matthew Bellamy should start singing, Rachel begins wailing like a banshee.

This time it’s me reaching to skip the song if only to shut Rachel’s bloody racket.

If only there was somewhere I could go to listen to my music without Rachel skipping every other song on my playlist.

Maybe there is.Desert Island Discs

It looks like the only possible chance I have to listen in peace, with no interruptions is to head off to a desert island. That way, I can select exactly what music I want to take with me, and no-one (not even Rachel) will be skipping tracks.

Desert Island Dick

But, is this playlist exactly what I want to take with me? Just because Rachel doesn’t like those songs, it doesn’t mean that they are my only favourites. Let’s consider making an alternative selection. There can’t be many people who have heard (or heard of) ‘Desert Island Discs’ and not pondered on what musical soundtrack sums up their life. But, how do you choose? The reasons for selection are as varied as the individual compiling the list, but there are some trends. Memories from childhood, landmarks in a lifetime, reminders of friends and family, or music to listen to while running or at the gym all make certain songs stand out in the mind.

Childhood memories.

The Osmonds were quite big when I was young, but do I really want to spend the rest of eternity listening to them? Other classics from that era include ‘Seasons in the sun’, ‘Metal Guru’ and ‘Blockbuster’, so would I go for one of those? Maybe. I can’t listen to David Bowie’s ‘Ashes to Ashes’ without thinking of the summer waiting for my O’level results, but while it’s a great song I am not sure I want to be reminded about exams. If I have to pick a Bowie song, I think ‘Laughing Gnome’ is more me.

Good times.

How about a Christmas song? The obvious choice is Slade ‘Merry Christmas Everybody’, but there are so many others to choose from, so why opt for the obvious.

An old classic.

Many desert island lists also include a classical piece, so what springs to mind? Holst, Vivaldi, the 1812?

After much deliberation, I think I have a list that covers every aspect of my life.

  • Special memories
  • A summer song
  • Christmas
  • Gym
  • Classical
  • Travel
  • A special lady
  • Dance

The Wombles W Factor

What’s on your island?

Do you have songs that you only listen to when no one else is around? What is on your Desert Island list?