Springingtiger's Blog


Soundtrack of My Life

I am delighted that Desert Island Discs is returning to BBC Radio 4 next week. I always find other people’s choice of music fascinating, it is particularly interesting to learn the reasons behind their, often surprising choices. Like many people I often wonder what would be in my choice of eight pieces of music.
I think my favorite hymn is Dear Lord and Father of Mankind by John Greenleaf Whittier. I have loved it since I was at school. There are so many hymns I could have chosen, Morning Has Broken by Eleanor Farjeon springs to mind, but  Dear Lord and Father always invokes in me a state of peacefulness. I think of it as a refuge from the cars and pressures of life.

If I were marooned on a desert island I would want to be reminded of Scotland.Land of the Mountain and the Flood by Hamish McCunn captures the feel of Scotland or at last how she feels to me.

I might have mentioned that I am a Saivite. Namah Sivaya as sung by Krishna Das would be on my list because of its sheer exuberance. Although Das is obviously a Vaisnava, I find his version of Namah Sivaya deeply moving, I could easily play it as a loop, all day, in the background.

My father introduced me to the music of Paul Robeson. As a child I was unaware of the place of Paul Robson in the struggle against injustice, I just loved his voice. I still love his voice, but now that appreciation is informed by a knowledge of his role in history. It would be difficult to select one of his songs, but I choose Peat Bog Soldiers which was written by communist prisoners in Nazi concentration camps before the Second World War. It is a song of yearning for freedom and also of the triumph of the human spirit over terrible injustice. The song was taken up as a marching song by German International Brigade members during the Spanish Civil War.

Many years ago the Labour Club had a musical cabaret group called the Red Review. One of their songs is a socialist standard in the west of Scotland, the Italian socialist “Bandiera Rossa” in a medly with the Spanish Civil War song, “Jarama” I don’t know whether Alan Smart has recorded a version, if not I’d be happy with Arthur Jonstone’s version.

One song that always moves me is “A Soldier’s Song”  by Peadar Kearney and Patrick Heeney. Perhaps the reason it moves me is because I most often hear it at the start of International  rugby matches because it is the national anthem. It is a fitting anthem for a nation that had to sieze its freedom by force of arms, let’s hope Scotland never has to walk that road.

I would have to include at least one Beatles track, I could easily include eight. I shall select Strawberry Fields because it’s so catchy, the music keeps playing in my head.

I have often said that the Soundtrack of my life is by Johnny Cash. I suppose as a pupil in a boarding school resonated with me. Interestingly the song I’m going too choose is not written by him, it is “Hurt” by the Nine Inch Nails because his version is so powerful. I have albums from every part of his career, but his later work produced by Rick Rubin evokes a lifetime of experience and moves me very deeply.

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