I am one of those who have been meme'd by lisa to do a desert island disk list of eight songs, so I can do no more than agree to her request. The following are in no particular order.You’ll Never Walk Alone – Shirley Jones
Jones sang this very beautifully in the beautiful beautiful Rogers and Hammerstein musical Carousel. It is a superb film, with the story surrounding the character played by Gordon Macrae, who is given a chance to return from the dead in order to rectify some of the mistakes he made in his life, one of which is to get his daughter to go on the straight and narrow and not to follow her father’s errors. Jones plays the mother of the child and, obviously, widow of Bigolow. You’ll Never Walk Alone is the final song in the film, sung by Jones to her daughter, and, by the time it is finished, everyone watching is in floods of tears.
Now, of course, there is another reason why I would choose this song. Yes, I know that Liverpool supporters adopted it as their own following the release of the Gerry and the Pacemakers’ version in the early ‘60s, but we Celtic fans also know it as one of ours. There is nothing quite like being in among 60,000 people singing the same song and two occasions stand out for me when thinking about it – and for very different reasons.
The first was just over 20 years ago three days after our former manager Jock Stein died at the end of Scotland’s victory over Wales to get our country into the World Cup play-offs (in which we eventually overcame Australia to make our way to Mexico). The first Celtic game following his death was a home match against Aberdeen at which I stood on the famous terracing known as the Jungle. Following the minute’s silence for the big man, we gave an impeccable rendition of You’ll Never Walk Alone, which was filled with passion and emotion, at the end of which I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many working-class males in the same place wipe tears from their faces. To know how much big Jock meant to Celtic fans, was to experience that occasion.
Episode two came when Celtic were in Seville to play Porto in the UEFA Cup final in 2003. The day itself got off to a strange start when the bloke who had made the travel arrangements decided at the last minute – and this was the last minute as the doors of the plane had only been reopened to allow an engineer on to screw a door closed – that maybe he should be at hospital with his partner who was in labour at the time rather than go to the game.
Onto the song and, after Celtic took the field, we belted it out. For me, it was a unique moment in a unique three days in Seville. None of us who were there could really fully describe what it was all about. This might sound stupid, but, while spending the following Saturday night in Madrid where I came across a bunch of fellow Celtic fans – a priest from Florida, a young unemployed bloke from Ayrshire, a strip club manager from Toronto and an actor from Glasgow – we all decided that we were glad that Celtic got beat because we wouldn’t have been able to handle the emotions of a victory. Yes, I know it sounds stupid now, but it made sense to us then.Anarchy In The UK – Sex Pistols
Very simply, this song changed my life – even though I didn’t know at the time it was released. Getting into punk music – after not really being into music of any kind previously – in 1978 (yes, I know I was a latecomer!) gave me a direction in life. I was heading into secondary school, which were to become the worst days of my life, but I had music and one or two mates to keep me going. Not to sound morbid about it, but, looking back, if I didn’t have the Sex Pistols, the Clash, the Jam, 999, the Vibrators, Siouxsie, X-Ray Spex, etc, I may have topped myself! Anarchy In The UK started it all for me and remains the most important – rather than my favourite – song in my life. It will be played at my funeral!White Rabbit – Jefferson Airplane
There are a few reasons why this one is in here.
One, it is a damned fine song, a classic in fact. However, the first time I ever heard it was as a brilliant cover version by The Damned.
Two, it was the only cover version played by what jim describes as the one-gig wonders In Prague, with jim on guitar and vocals and yours truly on bass. Incidentally, the band also featured the original Trashcan Sinatras drummer, but that’s not really important. The band also featured, as guest in the rehearsal studio on occasions, a late friend of ours. So I can think of this song and think of jim and think of the times when Ian would pop in and just pick up the guitar and pick up anything we were playing and improvise like the utterly brilliant guitarist he was. I still have an old acoustic guitar of his which he gave me when he was moving house and I will be able to play it some time, I promise.
On a happier note, I was recently out with Jane and took her to a fabulous bar in the West End which has an equally fabulous juke box. First, she sings along to the Members’ Sound of the Suburbs and I’m thinking: “Can I love this woman any more than I already do?” Up I go to put some sounds on and decide to put White Rabbit on. I haven’t told her what I picked, but, as soon as that bass line starts, she exclaims how much she loves this song. And I love her.Obscurity Knocks - Trashcan Sinatras
I remember one Friday morning back in 1989 and rising out of bed after the alarm had just gone off, song playing on the radio kind of sounded familiar, or, more precisely, singer's voice sounded helluva familiar. Thought it a very very good song also, it must be said. "That sounds like Frank Reader!" I exclaim. "Whose Frank Reader?" 'er indoors asks. "Guy I was at school with and who is in this band with a guy I used to be mates with in Irvine and who I used to work with." DJ didn't say who the band were or what the song was called when it had finished. Didn't think much of it until two days later and same radio station - with, if I remember correctly, Chris Evans as DJ - playing same song and declaring it to be "fantastic" and saying that it was the Trashcan Sinatras. I am totally excited that my old friends are on the radio and I am totally excited that their first single is absolutely stunning, with some of the wittiest lyrics ever heard. Unfortunately, they may have been singing about their own future, but knowing the lads, they probably couldn't give a fuck - they weren't in it for the fame, they are in it cos they love playing music. This, therefore, is the song which started it for them and it is a wee beauty. Oh, and if anyone mentions the Pete Wylie incident at one of their gigs, you die!
God Only Knows – Beach Boys
Paul Macartney has described this as the perfect pop song – I can only agree. There are other songs which can compete for that accolade – namely, Oukasts’s Hey Ya or any one of Abba’s brilliant catalogue (I think I would plump for Dancing Queen, however), so why go for this gem? Well, because it is a gem. Also, while I always liked the Beach Boys, I didn’t respect the genius of Wilson until very late. In fact, I went along to the Royal Festival Hall when he was on his world tour that saw him perform Pet Sounds in its entirety and in its original order about five years ago. A mixture of the crowd’s reaction, their applause, their noise, their shouts to him when he took the stage, combined with the man himself, made me think I was in the same room as a musical genius. From that very moment, I realised how important Wilson was to music and how I had to listen to songs such as God Only Knows for the rest of my life.
Stay Free – The Clash
Maybe weird that I’ll choose a non-Strummer track for this list as I regard him as one of the great writers ever. But this song gets the old goosebumps going every time. It’s a beautiful story about friendship and solidarity and about sticking with your mates through thick and thin.
Free Nelson Mandela – Special AKA
In 1988, I was one of a select few (25, in fact,) chosen to walk from Glasgow to London to mark the 25 years since Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for his attempts at crushing the fascist apartheid state and this song was our soundtrack. Also on the march was ‘er indoors and she got to be the one addressing 250,000 demonstrators at Hyde Park at the end of the five-weeks. We had a good few years together – and a few bad ones – we produced a brilliant child and we are still very good friends. Jerry Dammers, who wrote the song, was, I am told, one of the supporters in the Anti-apartheid Movement who were pressing for such a march, so thanks to him and thanks to his song, etc etc. Bye the way, I never did make the return journey back to Scotland.
White Collar Boy – Belle and Sebastian
I thought I’d choose one contemporary song and I can think of no better choice than this. Well, it’s from the excellent and perfect The Life Pursuit, which jane gave me as a present and, if I’m going to be on some desert island on my own, then I would want to hear something which reminds me of her.
I sat down to start this not really knowing what I was going to pick or why I was going to pick them - other than two or three that is. Now that I look at what I have written, I think it's a strange choice but, at the precise moment of writing, these are the eight I would choose. Like others who have carried out this little project, I too would expect that if I did this tomorrow, or , in fact, tonight, or, in fact, in half and hour, the choices would be different.
Where is The Kinks, Velvet Underground, Christy Moore, Love, Dead Kennedy's, Rage Against The Machine, Steve Earle, Public Enemy, Jay-Z, the Delgados, Camera Obscura, Skids, Sonic Youth, Stone Roses, The Smiths, Heaven 17, Elvis, Beatles, Dylan, Blondie, Woody Guthrie, Richmond Fontaine, Undertones, Prefab Sprout, Thin Lizzy, Beastie Boys, the Damned, Pavement, Babyshambles (ha ha ha)?? Well, as I say, if I do this again tomorrow, the list will be totally different.
*Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds