If you were stranded on a desert island with only eight records, a book and a luxury, what would you take and why? That question provides the starting point for BBC Radio Four’s long-running programme Desert Island Discs. Since it first aired in 1942, guests have included leading figures from the worlds of politics, the arts, business, sport and many other areas of public life. Several British Prime Ministers have appeared as have countless other figures from the UK and around the world. It is possible to listen to many of these episodes via the BBC website or download them as podcasts via iTunes.
I realise that the chances of me ever being invited to appear on Desert Island Discs are somewhere between very slim and absolutely zero, but this week I’m going to be talking about songs and books that mean something to me as a dad and why. So here’s my list of eight songs, a book and a luxury that I would take with me if I were castaway to a desert island….
He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother (Justice collective)
I wasn’t going to include any cover versions in this list, but have decided to make an exception for this reprise of the song by the Hollies. This version was recorded by a group of singers from the Liverpool area to raise money for relatives of those who lost their lives in the Hillsborough Stadium disaster in 1989 as they continue to seek answers to many questions about how and why the tragedy happened. I remember being very moved hearing the song played as I watched two young kids wearing shirts of city rivals Everton and Liverpool walk onto the pitch at a game last season. Despite the context that explains why this song was released, it still has a gentle charm to it for me and I remember listening to it on the way home from work during the months before we became parents.
Nos da mam (Steve Eaves)
In February of this year, my wife and I went to see local musician Steve Eaves perform at an event in a community arts venue near where we live. His songs, all of which were in Welsh and many of which are seen as influenced by blues or folk music, seemed particularly relevant to us as quite a few of them were about places near where we live. As we were just over two months away from our child’s due date when we went to the gig, a lullbaby entitled Nos da mam (Goodnight mum) struck a particular chord with us and made us think more about the fact that we were soon to become a mum and dad to a child (..,even though it’d probably be a while before he/she would be able to say ‘Nos da’ to either of us.
This video of the song has English subtitles
Enfys yn y glaw (Kizzie Crawford)
As our son was born via a Cesarean section, my wife was unable to drive for six weeks following his birth and I ended up driving to work a lot more than normal. I’d often listen to Sian and Daffyd’s breakfast show of Radio Cymru (the BBC’s Welsh language station) and remember hearing a beautiful song by Kizzie Crawford entitled Enfys yn y glaw (literally: a rainbow in the rain) that brightened up many of these short car journeys from home to work. I loved the sound of the gentle melody as I reflected on how content becoming a dad had made me.
Extract of song available here
On est tous chez nous (Zebda)
Zebda, who are from Toulouse in France, are one of my favourite bands of all time and seeing them live in Paris in May 2003 is right up there with watching U2 play a concert in front of more than 80,000 people at Slane Castle in 2001. I’ve always loved the dynamism of Zebda both on stage and in their activism off stage that they have used to raise questions about the treatment of groups such as immigrants (and their descendants) as well young people from housing estates. These themes punctuate many of their songs, including this one whose title loosely translates as ‘We’re all at home here’.
Dau gi bach (Two little dogs, traditional Welsh nursery rhyme)
As I mentioned in a post entitled Being a Bilingual Parent, we are bringing up our son using both Welsh and English. As this has involved me trying to learn some new Welsh language nursery rhymes, I thought that I’d include this video of television presenter Matt Johnson being taught the song as part of a series called Hwb that was broadcast on Welsh language television channel S4C.
That’s the way (I like it) by KC and the Sunshine Band
A lot of people apparently end up humming this tune when the see that my blog’s called ‘Dad’s the way I like it’. As it happens, I didn’t choose the title of my blog due to the song. Indeed, I would probably have until recently described this song as slightly irritating (…mainly due to an annoying early 1990s British TV ad for a television listings magazine). However, when I was listening to it last week I realised that I do actually quite like this tune.
Slient Sigh by Badly Drawn Boy
I first heard this song when I went to see the film About a Boy in 2002 when I was in my final year at university and bought the single shortly afterwards. I’m not sure what it was about the song, but I ended up listening to it a lot when I was revising for my final exams and it helped me to relax during revision breaks. I remember listening to it on the train from Leeds (where I went to university) back up north to my parents in Scotland and thinking about how I was at such an important stage of my life as graduation was only a few months away.
Going Home (Theme tune from Local Hero) by Mark Knopfler
This is a sentimental choice linked to where I’m from and the fact that Local Hero is one of the first films that I remember watching at home with my parents. The film is a fiction that tells a heartwarming story about a Scottish coastal village whose residents try to resident the attempts of a major oil company to buy up the village so as they can build a refinery. Like the film itself, I love the gentle charm of the this instrumental piece and the fact that it reminds me of where I’m from even though I’m not from the same part of Scotland as where the film was shot.
E hara (traditional Maori folk song)
At our wedding ceremony, we were really fortunate that Bangor Community Choir (of which my wife is a member) kindly agreed to sing several songs. One of them was this traditional Maori song about love, traditions and tending to the land. To see the lyrics of the song (including an English translation) and to listen to the choir singing the song, click here.
Book: Our son’s birth took place within weeks of me publishing a book about French cinema, which was a special event of a different nature as it is the first book that I’ve published. As I’m already quite familiar with its contents, I don’t think I’d take with me to the Desert Island. Much as the books that I talked about in my first ever blog post (Read all about it! Dad books and preparing for fatherhood) were really helpful, I don’t think that I’d take one of them either. Instead, I’d like to take a volume of the complete works of the Irish poet Seamus Heaney who sadly passed away last month and who was the subject of a blog post I wrote entitled Seamus Heaney, Haggis and Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau.
Luxury: Castaways on Desert Island Discs are generally not allowed to nominate as a luxury anything that is obviously very practical or which would allow them to communicated with the outside world. For that reason, I think that I’d have to take a large photo album full of pictures of places I’ve visited on my travels and most importantly of family and friends.
What did you think of this article? What would be your Desert Island Disc choices? I’d love to hear your views, so please feel free to let me know your views via the comments section below. If you want to keep up with this blog, there are ‘Dad’s The Way I Like It’ pages on Facebook or Google+. Remember that you can also subscribe to this blog by entering your e-mail address in the box on the right of the screen and also follow this blog via BlogLovin.