Soggy Island Discs
I was listening to Desert Island Discs today and naturally it got me thinking about what eight songs I would choose. The thing is, I’m not stranded on a desert island; I’m stuck on a soggy island off mainland Europe. With that in mind, I’ve compiled a list of eight pastoral, autumnal tracks suitable for a cold November in Great Britain. Here they are, in no particular order, with links so you can have a listen…
Bob Dylan – Shelter from the Storm Dylan is one of those artists with so many good songs, that picking just one proved to be difficult. This is one of my favourite non-political songs of Bob’s and has lyrics fitting for the time of year.
The Beatles – Rain Another ‘weather’ song. But this is actually an upbeat track about ignoring the rain and getting on with your life. If you haven’t heard it, I wouldn’t be surprised. It was the B-side to Paperback Writer and didn’t appear on any of their studio albums. It was recorded during the sessions for Revolver, which explains the brilliant psychedelic feel.
Nick Drake – Place To Be Nick Drake released three albums in his short life, and they’re all worth a listen. My favourite is his final, most sombre offering: Pink Moon. Like most of the album, this song just Drake singing and playing acoustic guitar; but it’s hugely affecting.
Brian Eno – An Ending (Ascent) This is from the classic ambient album ‘Apollo – Atmospheres and Soundtracks’, and is meant to evoke the NASA moon missions. But the feeling of tranquillity and open space, gives it a wider appeal.
Aram Khachaturian – Gayane Ballet Suite – Adagio This is another ‘spacey’ one, as it was featured in ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’. It plays as the astronauts go about their daily routines on the long trip into the unknown.
Jim White – Static on the Radio This guy is one of the great alternative country/Americana artists around. His documentary about the Deep South, ‘Searching for the Wrong-Eyed Jesus’ is also great. This song is a duet with the brilliant singer-songwriter, Aimee Mann.
Brahms 3rd Symphony – 3rd movement – Poco allegretto Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony would make a good choice, but somehow this piece by Brahms (a huge fan of Beethoven) speaks to me more. It’s so contemplative and mournful. The “F, A-flat, F” motif is said to represent the German phrase “Frei aber froh”, meaning “Free but happy”.
Richard and Linda Thompson – Night Comes In Richard Thompson is one of the most underappreciated artists around today. He’s always been a critics’ darling, but that’s never translated to record sales. This track is from the brilliantly reflective ‘Pour Down Like Silver’ album, recorded after his and Linda’s conversion to the Sufi faith.