My Desert Island Discs!

How can one narrow down favourite songs to just 8!? I can't, but for the sake of the reader, here are 8 out of many that have made an impact on my life.

1. Parisienne Walkways - Gary Moore & Phil Lynott. I was a child when I first heard this song. Being the little sister to my rock obsessed older brother, I heard a lot of heavy metal & rock music in our shared bedroom. Everything from Iron Maiden to AC/DC to Black Sabbath, to softer American rock such as ZZ Top and Toto.

Parisienne Walkways was my first experience of hearing electric guitar amidst a soft tune and sentimental lyrics. I found myself totally in awe of how long Gary Moore held that guitar solo! And of course, the romantic in me fell in love with Phil Lynott's voice. Parisienne Walkways covers so much; bohemia, an all encompassing nostalgia, and lost love. Until this day, more so when I have had a few drinks, you will find me singing along to this song and even holding the sustained note in the guitar solo (very badly) with my vocals. It’s quite the sight & sound!

2. When Doves Cry - Prince. Prince was my favourite artist for decades and this song was the first of many favourites to follow. As a young teen, I saw a man, unconventional and unafraid, with endless energy. As I got older, I saw raw emotion, sexuality and a complete musical genius. For a period, P-funk was my favourite genre and Prince's influence showed me the likes of George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic. Prince was also a fabulous producer and I will never forget his first introduction to the lovely Sheila -E. 
I love the anticipation you feel throughout the intro of When Doves Cry, making you want to hear what comes next. It is story telling and expression at its best!

3. All I want by Joni Mitchell.  I heard Joni Mitchell's Blue album at a boyfriend's. My then boyfriend had to go out for a few hours and I found myself listening to this one song on repeat, swirling around and around mesmerised by her yearnful voice. A wonderful songwriter, lyricist and watching the way she strums her guitar so effortlessly is pure perfection and makes me fall in love with her all over again. Joni Mitchell IS music. All I want holds nothing back, The song is truth and complete vulnerability. 

4. Miss Otis Regrets - Ella Fitzgerald. Nightingales alone could compete with Ella’s voice! And no other singer beats Ella's version of this yet another sophisticated Cole Porter song. Ella captures the regret and pain and despair oh so well. Another song I end up singing along with in the wee hours of the morning (Sinatra reference unintended).

5. Nostalgia - Carlos Gardel.  Watching Jack Lemmon dance the American tango as Daphne in Billy Wilder’s Some Like It Hot, was the closest I got to any kind of tango, until one bored evening I saw an ad: ‘Argentinian Tango lessons, no need to bring a partner’. After trying to figure out a few steps in that first lesson, my tango teacher took my hand and said, 'just close your eyes and follow me', and he then took me to places in my mind I didn’t think were possible to visit via a dance. As with most who dance it, I got hooked and found myself going to milongas day and night.
Some describe the dance as making love standing up, but it goes deeper than the physical. The beauty and depth of the music is the perfect marriage to the dance, bringing out the sensual and evocative and pure nostalgia.

The music of Nostalgia takes you back to a smoky, dark, lonely salon, with poetic, lonely people, all wanting to be accepted, longing to be embraced, to be loved, to be made love to. But then the tango takes over and all they want is to dance and dance and dance again. The lyrics of Nostalgia are about a life and a love lost. It is the epitome of the core of tango where the lyrics are deeply sad, and the dance addictive.

6. Shiver Me Timber - Bette Midler's live version. For me the mystery of the sea has always been a fascination. I believe it's in my genes. My father and his father and his father before him, were in shipping and they all shared the same middle name, as I do, which means 'from shipping'. My love for the sea and all its mysteries and voyages need a whole blog post of their own. But for now, to say that Bette Midler's voice here is so full of emotion. As I listen, I feel I am floating in the sea, in the dark, with perhaps a dimmed light from a lighthouse far, far away, slowly getting lost at sea..., to the sea... 

7. In Dreams - Roy Orbison.  This song has always brought magic, but after my father passed away, the song took a different magical meaning for me. I would listen to it on repeat all night, through the night, hoping my dad would show up in my dreams. . and he would. This song brings me love and solace and the musical arrangement is fabulous.

8. Mamma - Claudio Villa. This song has been sung by many greats such as the beautiful Andrea Bocellli and the great Pavarotti to name a few. But for me, Claudio Villa’s version resonates the most. Sung in the 40s, has subtle Carlo Buti vibes in places. And although Villa was from Rome, the song makes me think of an old Naples.

I didn’t know who Claudio Villa was when I first heard this song on an old tape. None of my young Italian friends knew so I ended up taking my Walkman to Italian delis and asking the older staff who this singer was. It took a few tries and finally, I found my mystery singer’s name. My love for Italy probably started from this song.

So that’s my 8! I realise there aren’t any current songs on this list, perhaps I can save that for another blog post! 

Amazon are offering new subscribers a 90 day free trial for Amazon Music HD (and ultra HD). Which means a sound that is as close to the original recording as the artist intended. But hurry, offer ends 6th March!

And if you do subscribe be sure to listen to Parisienne Walkways! ;)

What song has left an impact on you?
I’d love to know!
Raha x


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