I love Desert Island Discs on Radio 4. Always have. I think it’s the perfect interview format. You get all the boring biographical waffle that is endlessly retrod in any interview but then you get this glimpse into the soul of the interviewee when they get to choose those 8 songs they would take with them if exiled to a desert island.
I think nothing speaks more about a person than their taste in music. All the answers are to be found there. Someone who doesn’t delight in music doesn’t delight in life. Angry, bland, beautiful, hurt, joyous, serene, psychotic – it’s all there. Music is the accompaniment, reflection, summation and motivation of life. I think at the end of this blog, I might pick my 8 tracks. That’ll be a treat for you.
Anyway, I know full well that I’m preaching to the converted. Readers of this blog are all smart, interesting and emotionally open people so I don’t need to extol the virtues of music. I just wanted to write about this week’s installment of DID. You can listen to it here…
Duncan Bannatyne! I’m a huge fan of Dragon’s Den, it’s one of the only TV shows I go out of my way to not miss and I was greatly upset at the 100% correct accusation recently levelled at it that it is merely pop idol for snobs. Dammit. It is – seeing lots of failure, a bit of pathos and a squad of smug, rich, fuckfaces being mean to normal people. But I do like it and am – somewhat – intrigued about the dragons themselves. I think Bannatyne is the most interesting. Perpetually grumpy and generally quiet, he’s an infrequent investor and strangely benign force until, like a poked lion, he’ll roar to life and rip some poor bastard to pieces. He’s more of a cold observer than a participator.
Anyway, I was well up for listening to his Desert Island discs. But it was a disheartening experience. These were his choices:
1. Maggie May – Rod Stewart. Because, he tells us, when he’s in England he likes to hear a Scottish voice. Now, Maggie May is a great song. On many levels. But that seems a weird first choice. it feels like any Scottish voice will do and this is the most obvious one he could choose, so, fine, that’ll do. Bannatyne didn’t even engage with concept, as many do, and proclaim ‘I’ll need a voice to remind me of Scotland when I’m on the island’. Just ‘when I get to England, I need to hear a random Scottish voice’. You’re better off with The Proclaimers, surely. They’re REALLY Scottish sounding. Maybe TWO Scottish voices would be too much. Maybe they’re too ‘underground’ for him.
2. Don’t You Want Me – The Human League. Why? Because he hired them to play his wife’s 40th birthday party. This will become a trend in Bannatyne’s choices. Three of his eight selections are bands he has hired to play at his own private parties BUT, in a mad chicken-or-egg scenario, he never alludes to the idea that he hired them BECAUSE they sang his favourite songs, it seems more that these were the only occasions in his life he was around live music and when forced to name 8 songs he said ‘who were those people who played my party that time? Yeah, that’ll do. Plus, people will realise I’m rich enough to hire anyone to play any song I wanted them to’
3. The Green Green Grass of Home – Tom Jones. It reminds him of going home. Another worrying trend in Bannatyne’s choices – an inability to engage with a song on anything more than the most direct literary correlation. If you ask most people which songs remind them of home, it’ll be family favourites or songs playing at the time of a significant return. Not Dunk – the song that reminds him of home is the most mainstream song with the word home in the title that is about coming home.
4. Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round The Old Oak Tree – Tony Orlando. Similar to the above, Dunk tells the story of coming home from prison, having done his time (first line: ‘I’m coming home, I’ve done my time’ ) and wondering if his girlfriend would be waiting for him. Brilliantly, he admits that the song itself was released a couple of years later. So it doesn’t even have a direct emotional link with that time of his life. it just seems retrospectively appropriate.
5. Love Changes Everything – Michael Ball. I believe this selection counts as Dunk’s most obscure choice, coming -as it does – from one of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s lesser known musicals. Lesser known cos it closed don really quickly cos it was SHIT. Like, shitter than ALW’s usual turdy offerings. What significance does it have on Dunk’s life? None. Just a show he saw. ‘I really enjoy it – it’s a fantastic song’. No, it isn’t. It’s rubbish. At this point in the show, it becomes obvious that Bannatyne isn’t so much struggling to choose just 8 songs from eternal playlist of his life, he’s struggling to just think of 8 songs he’s ever even heard.
6. Beverly Night – Woulda Coulda Shoulda – Another song he heard. He hired her to play his 60th birthday party. Great.
7. The One and Only – Chesney Hawkes Wow. Here’s a song that has earned it’s place in the playlist of a cheesy disco but… who would choose it as one of the only eight songs you could ever hear again. Nobody. At least he feels a connection to this song – ‘I think this record is written for me’ he tells us before qualifying that he’s being ‘tongue in cheek. Who takes a tongue in cheek song with them??? Chesney also played Dunk’s 60th Birthday.
8. Give Peace a Chance – Plastic Ono Band. ‘all politicians should be forced every Sunday to listen to this record’. No they shouldn’t. It’s an embarrassment of a song. Simplistic hippie claptrap which doesn’t really say much and didn’t really do much and is the hollowest and least considered ‘statement’ somebody can get behind. I mean, Lennon’s other great post-beatles slogan was ‘War is Over (If You Want It)’ to which everyone kind of nodded politely whilst thinking ‘uh… no it isn’t!’ and then reconsidering ‘Give Peace a Chance’ and realising it was a bit naff too.
So, those were his choices. A man who is worth a reported £320,000,000. Which, to me, confirms the pursuit of riches as a pointless, hollow exercise that leaves one with an inflated sense of self worth and an inability to see the true value of anything.
There’s been a bit of publicity around this episode as Bannatyne supposedly reveals that he had considered suicide. His actual words were ‘I came very close to considering suicide’. Which is balls, isn’t it? That’s like calling someone a murderer for almost thinking about killing someone. It was quite amusing at the end, though when the presenter asks him if he’d consider suicide on the island. That has to be a first.
Oh, and the interviewee always gets the choice of just one track that they would save if the rest of their collection got swept away. He chose… Chesney Hawkes. Tongue in cheek, eh?
And so, as the sun dips behind the palm tree, we leave Duncan Bannatyne listening to Chesney Hawkes on repeat whilst contemplating suicide. What a twat.
You’ll be relieved to hear that I can’t be bothered to work out my discs. Maybe another time!