Desert Island Playlist

The radio programme Desert Island Discs goes from strength to strength, but if I'm honest, it's a bit dated. If you don't know it, guests on this Radio 4 show list the eight records they would take with them on a desert island (plus various biographical bits).

It's all very well, but we really wouldn't like to be so limited, would we? So I've devised a new version - Desert Island Playlist. The rules are simple. Construct a playlist of your favourite music. You can have as many tracks as you like, but you are only allowed one track per band/artist or one piece per classical composers. What would yours be like?

I've listed mine below, and for those who like techno things, I've embedded a Spotify version of most of the playlist here so you can listen to them:



So here we go. I warn you, it's quite long. The order is simply the order I came across the tracks on iTunes, so it's in 'no particular order', as they say:
  • Al Stewart - Josephine Baker - a hard choice to get just one from my favourite singer/song writer, but this is one of my least-known favourites
  • Barber - Agnus Dei - I first came across this as background music in an animated section of a video game and fell in love with it
  • Allegri - Miserere - simply stunning
  • Beatles - Because - Abbey Road was an amazing album for me. It was the first pop record I really got into and coincided with one of those formative holidays where you meet girls and things
  • Blondie - Heart of Glass - had to be something from Parallel Lines
  • Orff - Carmina Burana - Dulcissime/Ave formosissima/O Fortuna - the final three tracks of this remarkable piece where the heroine gives her all, we celebrate love... and the wheel of fortune turns and nothing has changed. Forget the X-Factor associations, this is powerful stuff
  • Carpenters - We've Only Just Begun - sob
  • Vaughan Williams -  Bushes and Briars - I could have had one his lush orchestral pieces, but this male voice harmony setting of a folk song that I used to sing with my old chapel choir is electric
  • Wills - By the Waters of Babylon - I don't know if this has ever been recorded apart from the hissy recording I have of Selwyn chapel choir, but I think it's gorgeous
  • Leighton - Drop, Drop Slow Tears - another obscure 20th century composer, but more scrumptious dark choral work
  • Tavener - The Lamb - sweet
  • S. S. Wesley - Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis in B flat - the definitive Edwardian version of these miniature choral masterpieces
  • Curved Air - Puppets - one of many greats on the Second Album of this remarkable band
  • Beethoven - Moonlight Sonata - so I'm an old romantic
  • David Bowie - Life on Mars - wow
  • Dire Straits - Money for Nothing - the background music to a trip to New Orleans
  • Don McLean - Vincent - in memory of a student concert, where someone sang this and blew everyone away
  • The Eagles - Journey of the Sorcerer - could have done Hotel California, but let's celebrate HHGTTG
  • Ed Sheeran - The A Team - a kids' influence, but I like it
  • Fleetwood Mac - Oh Daddy - could really have been anything from this album
  • Genesis - I Know What I Like - just love the 'lawnmower' bit
  • Mahler - Symphony 5 - one of the jollier works from my favourite symphonic composer
  • Howells - Like as the Hart - possibly the best British 20th century church music composer. Haunting
  • Jethro Tull - Ring Out, Solstice Bells - unique sound and fun
  • Judie Tzuke - For you - could just listen to this over and over. Beautifully crafted
  • Karl Jenkins - Benedictus - played too much by Classic FM, but still good
  • Kate Bush - Lionheart - I know she says her first 3 albums were too studio dominated, but I prefer them to her later work
  • King Crimson - The Court of the Crimson King - nothing to add
  • Tallis - If Ye Love Me - a perfect short anthem from this early English master
  • Kirsty MacColl - What Do Pretty Girls Do - again, difficult to pin down a definitive song, so a pretty random choice
  • Lindsey Stirling - Shatter Me - my latest discovery. Love it
  • Lily Allen - The Fear - perfect song for her generation
  • Manhattan Transfer - A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square - shiver-sendingly good
  • Mike Oldfield - Tubular Bells - despite meaning we see Richard Branson on those excruciating ads, wonderfully original
  • Pearsall - Lay a Garland - it's a fake tudorbethan piece from the master of Victorian revival, but no less beautiful for that
  • Pink Floyd - Welcome to the Machine - who made that stupid 'one track' rule? But from probably their most perfect album
  • The Police - Don't Stand So Close to Me - I hated the Police initially as someone on the floor above played 'Message in a Bottle' repeatedly, but got to like them - and the menace in this one is impressive
  • Purcell - Dido and Aeneas, When I am Laid in Earth - the most moving aria from the only opera worth listening to end to end
  • Bach - Well Tempered Clavier Prelude and Fugue in C major - perfection from the master
  • Sheppard - Dum transisset Sabbatum - to modern ears, the tudorbethan Sheppard breaks all the musical rules, but does so remarkably
  • Simon and Garfunkel - Homeward Bound - I could have chosen 20 at least. The soundtrack of my university years
  • Sting - Moon over Bourbon Street - I've seen it (the moon over Bourbon Street, I mean), and despite everything wrong with Sting, this song is so evocative
  • Stravinsky - The Firebird - the complete ballet, not the suite. Orchestral perfection throughout.
  • Supertramp - Crime of the Century - in my youth I did a lot of travelling by train for the fun of it, and the Paddington station announcements on this track take me right back
  • Swingle - The Oxen - gorgeous setting of this Thomas Hardy poem
  • Tom Lehrer - I Hold Your Hand in Mine - my party piece if I'm asked to sing
  • Toyah - I Want to be Free - one of her two hits, not really my favourites, but the rest (and yes, I have a lot of Toyah albums, someone has to) are an acquired taste
  • Van der Graaf Generator - Mask - gut-wrenching stuff
  • Oldham - Remember O Thou Man - cracking choral music from this one-hit wonder
  • Byrd - Mass for Four Voices - musical perfection from the greatest ever English composer
  • Yes - See All Good People - not subtle, but still brilliant
  • 10cc - Brand New Day - I could have chosen practically any track of their two key albums
  • Derek and the Dominos - Layla - what's not to love?
  • Monteverdi - Magnificat - the musical equivalent of a high gothic building like King's chapel in Cambridge
  • The Who - I'm Free - I'd be hated by Who purists, but I prefer the movie version to the original album of Tommy
Phew!

UPDATED - In case you don't bother to read comments, M. G. Harris bullied me below into whittling it down to 10 (I couldn't manage the eight under traditional Desert Island Discs rules). It's a struggle, but these would be my 10:

1. Al Stewart - Josephine Baker
2. Barber - Agnus Dei
3. Vaughan Williams -  Bushes and Briars 
4. Pearsall - Lay a Garland 
5. Pink Floyd - Welcome to the Machine
6. Simon and Garfunkel - Homeward Bound 
7. Sting - Moon over Bourbon Street 
8. Stravinsky - The Firebird - the complete ballet, not the suite. 
9. Supertramp - Crime of the Century 
10. Byrd - Mass for Four Voices


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