I’ve always loved talk shows. I think it’s because they satisfy my inner nosiness in a way that receives less judgement than being a reader of gossip magazines does.
But it’s not just learning about a celebrity’s personal life, I’ve always been fascinated by the process of a talented individual and the journey they took to get to the top of their profession.
Parkinson was always my favourite. I daydreamed about walking – and falling – down those steps many, many times. I also secretly wrote down answers I would give to his questions for when I finally made it on the show.
When the wally went and retired in 2007, I was rather distraught.
Desperate for my fix of Mikey P, a friend asked if I’d ever listened to his episodes of Desert Island Discs. If I’m – embarrassingly – honest, I’d never listened to the show at all, let alone the big man’s three year stint.
The 10 years since have seen me catch up with his episodes, those of Sue Lawley and fall a little bit in love with Kirsty Young. And there hasn’t been an episode where I haven’t imagined which eight songs I’d pick, and why, if I was on the show.
Would I be an emotional picker, taking music that reminds me of people and places? Or a functional chooser with tracks to keep me productive on the island?
As I’m still yet to be asked to be on the show, I thought I’d just write my answers down here.
(I’d love to hear what you’d pick and why. Be sure to let me know in the comments or email firstname.lastname@example.org or Tweet @CarlBurkitt.)
RAMBLE ON – LED ZEPPELIN
I could’ve picked any Led Zeppelin song, but I’ve gone for the one I’ve played and sung the most. No story behind this one, Robert Plant’s voice simply makes my cockles dance.
MR. BIG STUFF – JEAN KNIGHT
When I was 17, we lost a dear friend to a motorbike accident. This song was played as his coffin was carried through at his funeral, after which his dad made charming jokes about his son’s footballing abilities. Those two things taught me the very valuable lessons that life (and death) shouldn’t be too serious and a smile goes a long way.
I’M IN A DIFFERENT WORLD – THE FOUR TOPS
If I had the confidence to write a balls out, heart on sleeve, no nonsense, straight up, flat out, I pissing love you, love song – this is how I’d want it to go.
SAN SOLEIL – MIIKE SNOW
In 2012 I ran the Great North Run in memory of my Uncle Jim, who took his own life. During a long, hot training run, this song appeared on my shuffle. I’d never really paid it much attention before and, to be honest, it’s a fairly straight forward song. But for some reason, that day, I was struggling, tired and thinking of Jim, and I broke down in tears.
Over the last few years I’ve found that crying is fairly fundamental to my wellbeing. The physical release truly makes me feel better. If I’m ever tense, low, or experiencing a foggy brain, I’ll whack this on and enjoy a lovely blub.
YOU WILL SEE ME – DAN LE SAC VS SCROOBIUS PIP
Similar to the Four Tops track, I’m slightly envious of anyone who can express their emotions sincerely without reverting to a joke somewhere very quickly afterwards. This song was not written for anyone in particular, apparently, but I have no doubt you will think of someone in your life this could relate to.
DAYS LIKE THIS – VAN MORRISON
If you’ve ever experienced depression, this song sums up the good days perfectly to me. When the sun’s out on the island, the bugs have stopped chewing my arsehole and I’ve got a belly full of yucca plant, I’ll pop this on to drift off to.
PRINCE CHARMING – ADAM AND THE ANTS
Without a doubt the song that takes me back to a particular time more than any other. For many years after our aforementioned friend died, before life dragged us all over the world, a big group of us would meet up on his birthday and get incredibly drunk.
This song was on a popular Pimms advert during the first gathering and we danced an awful lot to it. Bizarrely, it became our anthem and the track we’d request from DJs every subsequent year. I if ever I’m alone on his birthday, I’ll open a beer, put this on and think of those massive idiots.
DAY OF THE BAPHOMETS – THE MARS VOLTA
I was around 15 when The Mars Volta’s first album, De-Loused in the Comatorium came out. My friend Ollie slid a copy of the CD across my classroom desk and said: “You might like this”.
I took it home that night and hated it. It was so strange. Weird. I couldn’t make out the choruses. It didn’t seem to fit any kind of pattern the I was used to. They made up words. What a load of nonsense.
So I listened to it again. And again. And I loved it. Deeply. As the years went by I read up on them, bought their following five albums, they were my first ever gig and I now have an illustration of their heads on my skin forever.
During the last 15 years I haven’t really managed to convince anyone new in my life to get into them. I’ve had people say: “I didn’t realise you’d like weird stuff”. And I kind of like that.
I can’t express how much Cedric Bixler-Zavala’s voice has me in pieces and how the intricate work of all the musicians blows my mind. This particular song, to me, sums up all of their greatest elements.
If you’re not in the mood for a 12 minute masterpiece, then just start from 9:37 for a delightful bongo solo into vocals that tickles my neck every time (it’s always the bit I imagine I would tell Kirsty to play it from for the show).
The complete works of Simon Rich. This doesn’t exist, but I’d make Kirsty cobble all of his short stories and novels together. He makes me laugh more than any other writer and encourages me to improve my own nonsense. Buy his stuff.
A shit loads of crisps. Meatier the better. Or cheese and onion Squares.
DISC TO SAVE FROM THE WAVES
Day of the Baphomets – The Mars Volta.
© Carl Burkitt 2017