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Stars Pick Your Songs Vol. 1: Musicians

What would happen if you had a party of famous people and let them play their favourite records? This mix has 20 musicians from a time span of 75 years choosing music “for you”, one song each.

In putting together this mix ““ which was tremendous fun to compile (and, I hope, is tremendous fun to listen to) ““ I drew from the thousands of episodes of BBC Radio”s Desert Island Discs programme, which first aired in 1941 and is still going.

The programme”s format is simple: a well-known studio guest is interviewed and in the course of the often revealing conversation presents eight songs he or she would take to a desert island (to be played in the past on a wind-up grammophone and lately on a solar-powered record player). They then also choose a book and luxury item to take with them, but this won”t concern us here.

There are hundreds of recordings of Desert Island Discs available for download, and the record choices of every single “castaway” ever is listed as well. Which is where I drew the present selections from.

Of course, many songs have been listed several times; I ascribe them to only one guest. So here we have Yoko Ono choosing a Lennon song in 2007 which in 1982 was picked also by Paul McCartney. But McCartney will feature on a later mix with a different song choice.

There were other songs on this mix that were popular choices: Van Morrison”s Madame George is attributed here to Joan Armatrading. But it also was a choice of Joan Baez and Bruce Springsteen (both represented here with other songs), as well as by sculptor David Wynne and author Bernard Cornwell, neither of whom will feature in this series.

Some castaways have appeared more than once over the years; often they don”t repeat their song selections from previous appearances. But Petula Clark, who was cast away in 1982 and again in 1995, stuck with one of her choices: the Doobie Brothers” What A Fool Believes. That song also featured in the selections of composer Marvin Hamlisch, footballer David Beckham, and the late UK comedian Victoria Wood.

The oldest song selection here is by Richard Tauber, the exiled German singer who in 1942 went for a Marlene Dietrich track from 1930, the oldest on this mix. His choice is followed by the youngest track on this mix, by Amy Winehouse, chosen in a show 65 years after Tauber by George Michael.

Tauber died in 1948, long before George Michael or Amy Winehouse were born. All three died fairly young. One castaway to feature here recently celebrated her 100th birthday: Vera Lynn. It”s her song-choice from 1951 that features here.

Lynn”s choice was a contemporary hit ““ and Edith Piaf song recorded just a year earlier ““ and many Desert Island Disc guests go for contemporary hits, maybe in a flash of excitement about a current favourite, maybe to show off how hip they are to the groovy music in the hit parades. I have mostly ignored those choices and picked songs which I suspect have been long-standing favourites by the respective celebs. But I have a suspicion that Brian Eno”s choice in 1991 of a 1950s track by gospel singer Dorothy Love Coates was the result of the Roxy Music musician having just bought her re-released albums, issued the same year.

And that”s the fun too: if one hasn”t heard the guest explain in the programme why they chose a particular song, we can ponder and imagine what that song means to them.

More mixes will follow, with actors choosing their songs as well as general celebrities and politicians & authors.

So, here”s the obvious question: what would be your eight Desert Island Disc? Tell me in the comments.

As always, this mix is time to fit on a standard CD-R, includes home-marooned covers. PW in comments.

1. David Bowie – Changes (1971 – Neil Tennant 2001)
2. The Band – Up On Cripple Creek (1969 – Emmylou Harris 2003)
3. Glen Campbell – Wichita Lineman (1968 – Annie Lennox 2005)
4. George Jones – The Door (1974 – Randy Newman 2008)
5. Bob Dylan – My Back Pages (1964 – Bob Geldof 1992)
6. Colin Hay – Beautiful World (2000 – Kylie Minogue 2015)
7. Doobie Brothers – What A Fool Believes (1978 – Petula Clark 1982/1995)
8. Roberta Flack – I”m The One (1982 – Johnny Mathis 1987)
9. James Brown – Out Of Sight (1965 – Bruce Springsteen 2016)
10. Dorothy Love Coates – Lord, Don”t Forget About Me (1950s – Brian Eno 1991)
11. Muddy Waters – Got My Mojo Workin” (1957 – John Lee Hooker 1995)
12. Sarah Vaughan – Deep Purple (1955 – Dizzy Gillespie 1979/Tony Bennett 1972)
13. Edith Piaf – Hymne à l”Amour (1950 – Vera Lynn 1951)
14. Marlene Dietrich – Falling In Love Again (1930 – Richard Tauber 1942)
15. Amy Winehouse – Love Is A Losing Game (2006 – George Michael 2007)
16. John Lennon – Beautiful Boy (1980 – Yoko Ono 2007)
17. Jackson Browne – Late For The Sky (1974 – Joan Baez 1993)
18. Damien Rice – Volcano (2002 – Ed Sheeran 2017)
19. Nick Drake – River Man (1970 – Paul Weller 2007)
20. Van Morrison – Madame George (1968 – Joan Armatrading 1989)



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  1. halfhearteddude
    May 18th, 2017 at 07:56 | #1

    PW = amdwhah

  2. Walter Endres
    May 18th, 2017 at 15:09 | #2

    As I already wrote on your facebook page, it would be interesting to see, if any and if yes how many musicians recored cover versions of their desert island discs. Here are my 2 cents:
    1. Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody
    2. Deep Purple – Child in Time
    3. U2 – The Unforgettable Fire
    4. Die Fantastischen Vier (a German rap quartet) – Millionen Legionen
    5. BAP – Verdamp lang her (especially the eight minute unplugged version)
    6. Baz Luhrman – (Everybody’s free) to wear Sunscreen
    7. Jerusalem (a Swedish Christian hard rock band) – Dance on the Head of the Serpent
    8. Rez (a Chicago Christian hard rock band) – Land of stolen Breath

  3. JOI
    May 18th, 2017 at 16:09 | #3

    My desert island list would read (probably changed by tomorrow though …):

    1. Crusaders feat. Randy Crawford – Streetlife
    2. Tears for fears – Shout
    3. Hans Albers – Das Herz von St. Pauli
    4. Nena – Irgendwie, irgendwo, irgendwann
    5. Marlena Shaw – California Soul
    6. Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes – If you don’t know me by now
    7. Frank Sinatra – My way
    8. Lisa Stansfield – All around the world

    … well, or do I pick other tunes … ???

  4. rekkids
    May 18th, 2017 at 16:31 | #4

    Thank You

  5. halfhearteddude
    May 18th, 2017 at 20:02 | #5

    Ooh, that number 5. And number 1.

  6. halfhearteddude
    May 18th, 2017 at 20:03 | #6

    Verdamp lang her is a great shout. But I’d consider a thumping live version of it.

  7. Walter Endres
    May 19th, 2017 at 20:48 | #7

    The unplugged version is a lot like the “Hell Freezes Over” version of “Hotel California”. There is about 2 minutes of slow acoustic guitar and only when you hear the first few words you recognize that it’s Verdamp lang her. When you want a thumping version, there is also a version of Wolfgang Niedecken with the Westdeutscher Rundfunk bigband!

  8. paul burton
    May 19th, 2017 at 23:12 | #8

    How can anyone not fall in love with Marlene Dietrich sleeply singing of her song. So sweet. Thanks for this outstanding mix of good tunes. Always look forward to your compilations and descriptions. Your kind efforts are most appreciated. Thanks again. Paul Burton.

  9. Birgit
    May 19th, 2017 at 23:51 | #9

    This series sounds like fun and an opportunity to discover great songs. Thanks!
    I would certainly prefer a music player with gigabytes of music also including classical music but condensed to 8 island disc songs it would probably be:
    – Bob Dylan – Blind Willie McTell (acoustic version)
    – Terry Reid – July
    – Sandy Denny – The Lady (BBC Sessions)
    – King Crimson – 21st Century Schizoid Man
    – Billie Holiday – Strange Fruit
    – The Stooges – Freak (later titled L.A. Blues) Take 1 (Funhouse Sessions)
    – J Kutchma & the Five Fifths – I’ll Survive (Pastoral)
    – Kate, Anna and Jane McGarrigle – Heart like a wheel (Cambridge FolkFestival ’86)

  10. Mike Raftery
    May 20th, 2017 at 13:59 | #10

    Great concept – I’ve been a long time fan of Desert Island Discs. Coosing only 8 is hard but here goes :
    1. Jethro Tull – Thick As A Brick (technically only 1 song even at 40 odd minutes!
    2. Cat Stevens – The Boy With The Moon and The Star On His Head
    3. Alan Parsons Project – The Turn Of A Friendly Card
    4. Fleetwood Mac – Rhiannon
    5. Ennio Morricone – River (from The Mission soundtrack)
    6. Elton John – Oscar Wilde Gets Out (from 2013’s The Diving Board album)
    7. Gillain Welch – Scarlet Town (from 2011’s The Harrow & The Harvest)
    (One left -eek this is hard)
    8. Queen – All Dead. All Dead (from 1977’s News Of The world)

  11. Mike Raftery
    May 20th, 2017 at 14:00 | #11

    Great selection – I love the folk/acoustic choices

  12. J. Loslo
    May 21st, 2017 at 17:17 | #12

    Okay, I’ll play, but– as JOI points out above– the list would probably be different tomorrow, or even an hour from now.

    1. Big Stacka Darlin – Johnny Hoy & The Bluefish
    2. Black Muddy River – The Grateful Dead
    3. How Will You Shine? – The Gourds
    4. I Had a Dream – Buddy Guy
    5. In Memory of Elizabeth Reed (Fillmore East) – The Allman Brothers
    6. Long Distance Call (from Fathers & Sons) – Muddy Waters
    7. Manny’s Bones – Los Lobos
    8. Pay Bo Diddley – Mike Henderson & The Bluebloods

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