Desert Island Discs: the lowbrow edition.

Music’s a funny thing.

A piece of music can transport me back to a moment better than any number of photographs or videos. I can listen to music and remember where I was, who I was with, and how I felt in an exact moment in time.

Knowing this, you’d think I’d be – well – more circumspect in my listening choices. But no, I had my first kiss to Lionel Richie’s Dancing on the Ceiling.

I’m just setting expectations because I’ve been asked to share my Desert Island Discs playlist with you by Lindy, who wants to know what I’d listen to if I was marooned on a tropical island, along with one book, and one luxury. This will not be a highbrow post.

For some people creating a list of all-time favourite songs might be challenging, but the good news is that as well as being obsessed with the idea that I’m potentially moments from death on a daily basis, I am also a teeny bit of a control freak, so I’ve already prepared a Spotify playlist for my funeral wake.  This might seem odd, but how can I rest in peace knowing someone might inadvertently play Lionel Richie at my funeral? God forbid. 

So here are my eight all-time favourite songs:

John Mayer, Free Fallin’ Live at the Nokia Theatre: Some days, it feels like everything you try and hold onto crumbles at your touch. And it was on a day like that I texted my best-friend, in a slightly tipsy post-divorce haze, and said, “I feel like I’m falling.” Now, my best friend is my best friend for lots of reasons. But mostly because he is the sort of person who replied by sending me a link to this song with a message that said, “Falling is just letting go of the things you don’t need any more.” Also – he came round to my house and brought a bucket-load of alcohol. So, that helped.

The Smiths, There is a Light that Never Goes Out: Because it’s just perfect. I don’t need to say any more than that.

Billy Bragg, Between the Wars: Remember when musicians had opinions? And ranted about poverty and injustice and government stupidity?  I loved this song in the 1980s, and I love it now. “I will give my consent, to any government, that does not deny a man a living wage.” Too flippin’ right, Billy. Soundtrack to many Young Socialist meetings and (ever-so-slightly-earnest) long lunches in the student union. In your face, Bieber.

Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Under the Bridge: Listening to this song takes me straight back to my second year of uni in Glasgow. I’d had a family drama and so stayed at uni over the break, crashing at my friend’s flat. My student loan was a distant memory, so we lived on instant noodles from the Safeway across the street – served on toast, with dried parmesan cheese. Mmmm. Our cuisine was made even more exciting with the addition of popcorn, bought at 20p a bag from the Indian supermarket on the Byres Road. We stayed up into the small hours every night, drinking beer and playing FIFA soccer. And listening to this song.

The Weepies, Can’t Go Back: This one’s a recent favourite, but it reminds me of the trip Flea and I took to Brighton a couple of years back. It makes me think of sunshine glittering on the sea in front of Hove Lawns, Flea and I sitting on the stony beach and comparing the size of our feet. It’s Flea learning to ride a bike, and going on a giant bungee trampoline. It’s seeing my friends and feeling myself remember what it’s like to be with good friends who really ‘get’ you. It’s realising it could be a long time before we get to go home. This song makes me think of new adventures and memories and goodbyes all mixed into one. It’s a beautiful song. AND it’s got muppets in the video.

The Pixies, Here Comes Your Man: If I ever want to remember how it feels to be 17 years old, at my first ever music festival, this is the song to take me there. It’s also the song that reminds me of a heady summer spent riding in a psychedelic painted bus working for Greenpeace, and listening to the stereo each evening on our way back into the city after a day of door-to-door fundraising in the suburbs of Toronto. It’s a proper, summer, feel-good song. Perfect for singing ever-so-slightly too loud on hot nights, with the windows down.

James Taylor, Fire and Rain: I reckon there’s probably a generation of kids coming of age who don’t really know the joy of a good pub jukebox. James Taylor reminds me of lots of amazing days and nights, but this song was a fixture on our favourite pub jukebox in my early 20s. My best friend and I would settle into the pub in the early evening, and line up our change on the pool table, then load the jukebox. The last two songs of the night were always – ALWAYS – Hey Jude, and Fire and Rain. This song makes me think about long conversations, DMs and plaid shirts. Happy days.

Ben Folds, The Luckiest: Ben Folds probably takes a spot on just about every Spotify playlist I’ve ever made. And maybe another day, it would be another Ben Folds track on this list. They’re all brilliant, and smart, and often very funny. But today, if I was setting out to a desert island, a song that says “I love you more than I have ever found a way to say to you” seems like the right choice. Because I’m emotionally inept at the best of times, and I like a songwriter with an understanding of social awkwardness.

I’m also supposed to pick a book and a luxury. Which is easier than picking songs. My luxury would be sun block. Seriously. I come in two shades – alabaster and scarlet.

And my book? My Family and Other Animals. Because it’s sunshine and happiness in the printed form, and even though the copy I have is literally falling apart at the seams from being loved so very much for 30 years or so, I still periodically pick it up and read it again.

I’m supposed to tag some other bloggers at this point, so if you’d like to take on the challenge, I’d love to read the recommendations of Katherine, Jaime, Eileen and Merry (since she owes me a favour).

Pic: Shutterstock


Sally is a full-time blogger and founder of the Tots100, Trips100, Foodies100 and HIBS100 communities, along with the MAD Blog Awards. She spends a bit too much time on the Internet. She’s also a very happy Mum to Flea, the world’s coolest ten year old.


  1. 23rd January 2014 / 12:16 am

    Sally goodness me there are some corckers in there! I have to say but the most enlightening moment was realising I am not the only one with a funeral song …. Phew!!

    Thanks for the tag I’ll get onto this tomorrow evening and I may even share my oddly quite happy funeral song 🙂
    Jaime Oliver recently posted..My Weight Loss Journey – Putting My Best Foot ForwardMy Profile

    • 23rd January 2014 / 11:31 am

      Everyone should have a funeral playlist.

  2. 23rd January 2014 / 9:25 am

    I swore to never, ever tell anyone that in the early days I made Andy dance in his pants to a bit of Lionel. Clearly Richie has a place in every ‘relationship’. Either that or Mobile World Congress has helluva lot to answer for. Top read. I’ll make sure your alphabetised spice rack lines the altar at your funeral given the playlist is already sewn up.
    Ruth recently posted..Songs to make you feel goodMy Profile

    • 23rd January 2014 / 11:31 am

      I think you’ve just blown that promise to Andy…

    • 24th January 2014 / 3:43 pm

      Naturally. Who doesn’t love Billy Bragg?

  3. 23rd January 2014 / 8:19 pm

    I have requested The wonderful thing about Tigger for my funeral….just to make people smile….and yes I am deadly serious
    OH wants another one bites the dust
    Elaine Livingstone recently posted..Two different Focaccia breadsMy Profile

    • 24th January 2014 / 3:43 pm

      Amazing plan.

  4. 23rd January 2014 / 8:29 pm

    Great list. Under The Bridge and Here Comes Your Man are definitely part of the soundtrack of my socialist, protestor living in a tree young adulthood.
    Purplemum recently posted..SerotoninMy Profile

    • 24th January 2014 / 3:44 pm

      Kindred spirits, musically, obviously!

  5. 23rd January 2014 / 8:34 pm

    My mom (passed away a year ago, tomorrow) thoughtfully scribbled ‘Greek music Demi Roussos?’ on a piece of paper with her funeral plan (pre paid thanks mom) she would not know what Spotify was 🙂 . We had a lot of fun and tears (happy ones) choosing the tracks for the Humanist service. People remarked at the end of the service that they felt they should do Zorbas Dance out of the chapel. Stairway to Heaven, Led Zepplin is still my top choice. May have to book an extra 15 minutes for that though. Good blog. Thank you.
    Coral recently posted..Not buying it – winter bootsMy Profile

    • 26th January 2014 / 4:36 pm

      Hi Coral, I’m sorry to hear about your Mum, but it sounds like it was helpful to know what you planned would have met with her approval 🙂

  6. 23rd January 2014 / 9:18 pm

    Choosing your own funeral song is a good idea. I once had to choose one for someone and didn’t have a clue, so I went into their car, put on their Cd player and the first tune was Phil Collins, Against All Odds – perfect!
    I love Red Hot Chilli Peppers ‘Under The Bridge’ and my Family and Other Animals, brilliant choices.
    Anne recently posted..How Many Soapy Funny Faces?My Profile

    • 26th January 2014 / 4:37 pm

      *makes a mental note never to have any Phil Collins in the car*

    • 26th January 2014 / 4:37 pm

      That’s pretty belt and braces!

  7. 24th January 2014 / 1:46 pm

    WOW! I didn’t know people actually planned their own funeral music- if I should die before any of you- please NO ELVIS! Also- by your playlist it would appear that you are muy muy cooler than me. *runs off to delete meatloaf from playlist*
    Lindy recently posted..The face of an ImmigrantMy Profile

    • 26th January 2014 / 4:37 pm

      I am muy muy cool.


  8. Mummypinkwellies
    24th January 2014 / 4:09 pm

    Thanks for the tag Sally. I enjoyed doing these 🙂

    • 26th January 2014 / 4:38 pm

      Excellent! Loved reading your post too, thanks for taking part 🙂

    • 26th January 2014 / 4:38 pm

      Ah, I approve in that case, and look forward to reading 🙂

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