Desert Island Discs

In the UK, there is a very popular radio show called Desert Island Discs. This show has run continuously for more than 70 years – it was first broadcast in January 1942. I believe it might even hold the world record for the longest running radio program. The format of the show is quite simple. Each week, a famous person is invited as a guest. They are asked to imagine that they are the sole surviver of a shipwreck and have the opportunity to rescue a few artifacts before it is all washed away. Specifically, they can choose 8 records [tracks nowadays – usually music but can be spoken word], a luxury item [which must not be useful for survival] and a book [the Bible and complete works of Shakespeare are provided as a bonus]. The show takes the form of an interview, where the guest talks about their life, with the 8 tracks interspersed. It is always fascinating listening and I believe that many people regard an invitation to participate as being equivalent to getting an honor from the Queen.

A member of my family came up with the idea that we should all play the game and submit our Desert Island Disc selections. I though that I would share my contribution here …

I decided to divide my life into 8 segments and choose a track that appertained to each. This was the only way to get close to choosing just 8 tracks – otherwise I would have had dozens with no way to pare down the list. So, I divided my life so far into 8 parts: childhood, early teens, late teens, university time, soon after university, early adulthood, time with my late wife and time with my current wife. I thought about each of those time periods and selected a single song – it was extremely hard to do and I keep thinking of other music that could have been included.


I was a child in the 1960s, which was a golden time for music. However, my parents were not particularly fans of the Beatles or Stones [I came to appreciate their music myself much more recently]. My mother was much more Nat King Cole [I love his work nowadays too]. So, I thought about what I used to hear played on our Dansette record player and I recall a particular 45, which I think is still fresh.

My Boy Lollipop – Millie Small

Early teens

In my early teens I had a series of crushes on different girls – I think that’s quite normal. When I was about 13, it was Karen and she was a big fan of Gilbert O’Sullivan, so I was too, natch. I tried to choose something non-obvious.

Who Was It? – Gilbert O’Sullivan

Late teens

As I got older, my taste in music became wider. I got interested in rock music generally and progressive rock in particular. I first heard Supertramp on BBC Radio 3 and then I saw them on The Old Grey Whistle Test. Hard to choose which track to include, but I love the piano solo on School.

School – Supertramp


When I went to uni I was bombarded with music of all kinds. There were lots of live bands, which was really new to me and led to a life-long love for live performance. I was also subject to older students’ selection of music on the juke box. This led me to Steely Dan, whom I have been enjoying ever since. Hard to choose just one track.

Only A Fool Would Say That – Steely Dan



Post university

I saw Thin Lizzy at uni just before they hit big time with Whiskey In The Jar. I loved their energy from the start, but they really began to be well known in the early 1980s. Again, hard to choose just one track, so I went for something that would be good played loud with loads of bass.

The Boys Are Back In Town – Thin Lizzy

Middle years

In late 1985 I bought my first CD player. I was an early adopter, as I saw that it was such a great improvement over vinyl. The album Brothers In Arms was probably the first to really exploit and establish the CD medium. Choosing the track was hard. I went for the best intro ever recorded [IMHO] – the guitar riff is amazing.

Money For Nothing – Dire Straights

Time with Linda

Linda was not a great music fan, but she liked what she liked. When I first knew her she had a box of pre-recorded cassettes which she played a lot. A favourite was Steeleye Span. We saw them live in the Colston Hall in Bristol in the late 1970s and they are still performing today. I chose a track that I know she liked and I continue to enjoy.

Gaudete – Steeleye Span

Time with Libby

In recent years I have been so spoilt by seeing some great musical performances, which makes a choice well nigh impossible. I decided to take the opportunity to go back to my roots. I liked Rick Wakeman when he was with Yes in the 1970s. This isn’t Libby’s kind of music, but she has learned to appreciate his virtuoso piano playing. We even used two tracks of his at our wedding! I chose something that everyone will recognise. He has a great story about how he recorded it originally with Cat Stevens.

Morning Has Broken – Rick Wakeman

My choice of book: a big encyclopedia

My luxury item: a well equipped, but obviously not connected, solar-powered computer; mainly I’d want to be able to write, but, if I can do other stuff, that would be nice. [Guess what – I’d prefer a Mac. :-)]

This was great fun to do and equally interesting to see other people’s choices. Give it a try!

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This article first appeared on the Siemens Digital Industries Software blog at