We've been off-air as far as the blog is concerned for a few weeks now, but I thought what better reason to get back into our posting ways than to nod our hats to the British institution Desert Island Discs, which is celebrating a whopping 75 years on our airwaves this weekend. In an age obsessed with the new and the current, it's amazing that there are still things which have been allowed to endure for so long.
Like most people who have tuned into the radio programme to hear of the sometimes ordinary lives of extraordinary people and the sometimes extraordinary lives of pretty ordinary people, I've often fantasised about what my perfect eight tracks would be (just in case I was ever to get the call up at some point!).
During the task of choosing these discs, as many of you will know, the nostalgic memories which come flooding back are as vibrant and colourful as the time itself, and the tummy-flipping butterflies or ecstatic joy you can feel, are so powerful that you feel compelled to take some time out and just do nothing but remember and reflect. What is it about music which can take you back there; whether it be to that long summer holiday as a child, that awkward school disco or that time spent dancing in the kitchen with the baby?
Music is one of life's true levellers, which must certainly be the reason for the show's success. Even if the music someone has chosen is not to your personal taste, you can relate to the memories and the nostalgia felt by the subject. Male, female, black, white, artist, politician - the memories these people share about growing up with siblings, or their first boyfriend or their experiences travelling the world, are often not too dissimilar to our own.
Increasingly, I feel music is a great way to bond generations, and parents with children. Finding it hard to know what's going on inside the mind of your difficult teen? Get them to pick their tracks and explain what it is they love about them - I bet you'll learn more and talk more than most other conversation starters! Perhaps you can do the same. It might give them a chance to be interested in your life and history too...
In a self-indulgent tribute to the show, I couldn't resist putting together our very own Desert Island Discs list below (just in case that call from Kirsty Young doesn't come!). I hope it might give you some insight into the Roses and the Stars philosophy...
1. Father and Son - Cat Stevens
Cat Stevens was a big deal in my family growing up. Whether on the way to school or stuck in traffic jams coming back from childhood summer holidays, the greatest hits were always in the CD player and this song in particular always reminds me of my parents and how supportive they always are. This one is also just a good emotional belter to sing along to...
2. Unfinished Sympathy - Massive Attack
Apart from being a song of musical genius in my eyes, this song reminds me of my older brothers and sister. There's a 10 year + age gap between us and I used to spend most of my childhood with them, listening to their music, trying to be one of the gang. I thought (and still think!) they were the absolute coolest and like all cool 90's teens and twentysomethings, this song was played all the time and still makes me nostalgic for those days.
I find it impossible not to strut down the pavement like Shara Nelson when I have this song blaring in my headphones. It's also a song that gives you the energy to totally boss heartbreak and I would definitely pass this on to any children I have for their times of need.
3. Is this Love - Bob Marley
To anyone who knows me well, this is an obvious one. Like with so many of these song choices, this is one that has been with me most of my life. Since I was small I've had a Bob Marley poster on my wall. Initially, it was the hair - I found dreadlocks fascinating, especially when a certain big brother went through his rasta stage at uni. The music came to me later during a family holiday to Antigua and luckily for me the happiness his music gives me has never left.
I used to always find it impossible to pick a favourite but one year at Notting Hill Carnival, this was the last song on the sound system and suddenly hundreds of people were all together singing the lyrics together and my love of this particular track was cemented.
4. Ghost Town - The Specials
I'm a big fan of The Specials and the whole two-tone movement. I remember always loving this song growing up, and then I watched a documentary where someone was commentating on what Ghost Town was actually all about - the closing down of shops and clubs and places for young people to be free within their communities. In this day an age of the internet and social media stopping the young from feeling the need to go out, and the increase of racism and hate which seems to be spreading like wildfire this past year, I feel we're watching history repeat itself and this song is more relevant than ever.
5. A Whiter Shae Of Pale - Procol Harum
I always feel ridiculously lucky to love music as much as a do and this is the song that changed the way I felt about music. Aged about 6 or 7, I was in the back of the car, on our way to some local flower show or something similar, and this song came on the radio. I remember it clearly being the first time I was moved by music, the first time I loved a song even though I didn't know any of the words or didn't know what it was about. The memory is so clear to me that I even remember what road we were on when I heard it and when I find myself on that road now I often think back to that moment and this song - pretty incredible 25 years on...
6. You Got The Love - Candi Staton (The Source Remix)
For any of you who have watched the final scene of Sex and the City (a staple for most women I know), you'll know that this is another street strut song (what can I say? I can't help myself!) The perfect blend of power ballad and dance, this version of the song never gets old for me and completely puts me back at my school days when I thought I knew everything... Oh how I was so wrong!
7. Get Off Of My Cloud - The Rolling Stones
Despite loving both The Stones and The Beatles, it's always been the rebelliousness of the Stones and the Jagger snake hips which have won out for me in the end. One year I managed to get coveted tickets to see a reunion gig in Hyde Park and thought that there would be no better person to take than big brother Tom. Unfortunately, there was quite a significant clash as his baby number 2 was due any day. The day after the concert, I get a call - "I needed to call and let you know. You have a nephew. He's called Gilbert and he was born to The Rolling Stones!" - WTF - "they had 'Get Off Of My Cloud' playing on the radio! Coincidence huh?!"
Needless to say that this was a pretty good reason for choosing this as my favourite Stones track for the list. It's now my anthem for remembering all of my amazing nieces and nephews who play such an integral part in my life. I hope they'll love music and have as much fun listening to it as I have...
8. Still Here - Stanton Warriors
This isn't exactly a well-known song but to me, it completely symbolises the love I have for my friends. We all have a song or two that takes us back to a certain moment when you feel surrounded by love and fun and that's how I feel whenever I hear this tune. You know who you are...