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Music for a desert island

The BBC Radio program Desert Island Discs first broadcast in 1942 and is the longest-running music program in the history of radio.

Program guests, including prime ministers, princes and pop stars, select eight pieces of music they would want to take with them if they were castaways on a desert island. The music is played during the program and the guest and host discuss the choices. (To listen to BBC Radio, visit

A couple of summers ago, my partner and I played our own version of this game. We selected the music we would want to have with us if we’re stranded for the rest of our lives at camp. (A happy thought!)

We both agreed we wanted the 1994 recording of The Glory of Gerswhin, produced by George Martin and highlighting Larry Adler, the world’s greatest harmonica player, and various artists such as Elton John and Kate Bush. (See artists listed below)

Then my partner rhymed off classical pieces. He couldn’t stop at just eight. I picked anything by The Beatles.

Even though I don’t own the album, I think I could spend the rest of my life listening to the intricacies of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club Band. It was released in the summer of 1967 when I was 12. The last summer of my childhood before I became a teenager was a happy time for me.

I asked members of my writing class once to make their own list of Desert Island Discs. One of the younger writers had no trouble picking her selections. She would download 400 songs onto her Ipod and be prepared for anything!

Technology has taken the romance out of some things. But it’s a fun exercise to think about the music we would take with us on an extended vacation or for a day at the beach.

Vicki Gilhula is the managing editor of Laurentian Media Magazine Group.

The Glory of Gershwin tracks:

Summertime – Peter Gabriel
Do What You Do – Chris de Burgh
Nice Work If You Can Get It – Sting
They Can’t Take That Away From Me – Lisa Stansfield
Someone To Watch Over Me – Elton John
I’ve Got A Crush On You – Carly Simon
But Not For Me – Elvis Costello
It Ain’t Necessarily So – Cher
The Man I Love – Kate Bush
How Long Has This Been Going On – Jon Bon Jovi
Embraceable You – Oleta Adams
Ridin’ My Time – Willard White
My Man’s Gone Now – Sinead O’Connor
I Got Rhythm – Robert Palmer
Somebody Loves Me – Meat Loaf
Summertime – Issy Van Randwyck
Larry Adler & George Martin – Rhapsody In Blue

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