For someone who claims to have fallen in love with podcasts in the last six months, there’s been a huge unforgiving oversight in my choices – Desert Island Discs. I’d heard whispers of Kirsty Young’s dulcet tones, her penchant for saying people’s full names and the gloriously soft way she says “it’s yours” – and now, finally, I can say that I am sold.
For those who don’t know, Desert Island Discs is a radio show where celebrities are asked which eight songs they would take with them if they were castaways on a desert island. It’s not necessarily your favorite songs, but ones you’d want to take for sentimental reasons.
My music taste has definitely transformed a lot, especially over the last two years, where I went from being a die-hard indie fan to someone that listens exclusively to Elton John and Madonna. No, really.
So, with all this in mind, I decided it would be fun decide what Steph, aged 21, would choose as her Desert Island Discs. I’m the most indecisive person in the world, so this is likely to change within literally weeks, but here we go.
1. Grace by Jeff Buckley
I vividly remember being thirteen, and my brother Alex was fifteen and studying for his GCSE Music exam, and he would play Grace over and over, and I became transfixed. I would lie down in bed and turn the lights off and listen to it, over and over and over (highly melodramatic in hindsight, I’m aware) having never listened to anything quite like it. It was one of the most powerful things I’d ever listened to, and it introduced me to Jeff Buckley, whose music I am still inseperable from.
2. Edge of Seventeen – Stevie Nicks
I’m choosing this song because my favourite film growing up was School of Rock, which I would watch over and over and over again with my Dad and brother – I’m pretty sure we could all recite it backwards. This song always hits me with a pang of nostalgia, and I remember going on a night out when I first arrived at Uni for freshers week and this played, and I was genuinely astonished at how everyone’s eyes immediately lit up and how we all sang this song in the club with animalistic enthusiasm.
3. Father and Son – Cat Stevens
My sister often jokes that I’ve copied all of her interests growing up, and to be honest, when it comes to music it’s hard to deny. There’s family photos of her as a surly teen, unsmiling and swathed in a Nirvana jumper, and nine years later I was ordering a Nirvana jumper off eBay, watching their Live at the Paramount DVD repeatedly and briefly running a semi-famous Nirvana tumblr page (criiiiiiinge). Another great love I inherited from her was Cat Stevens, which she would often play while I sat cross-legged on her bedroom floor (now my bedroom). It’s one of the very few songs and solos that I can play on guitar, and I find it so comforting.
4. Best of Friends – Palma Violets
I feel like I couldn’t complete this list without including one of the bands from the 2012-2016 era where I was utterly obsessed with gigs and indie bands. It was through likeminded people on the internet and sweaty £15 gigs where I fell in love with Peace, Wolf Alice, Superfood, Drenge, Palma Violets, Swim Deep, The Wytches, Fat White Family, Slaves. These bands are all fairly interchangeable in terms of the part of my life where I listened to them religiously, but I’ve chosen “Best of Friends” as a song to define these years. I first saw Palma Violets at The Coronet (now closed) in Elephant & Castle in 2013, before seeing them on the first night of my first ever festival (Reading Festival, 2014), where Chilli Jesson accidentally kicked me in the head. Thanks, Chilli.
5. Never Too Much – Luther Vandross
I spent a lot of the time in the car with my mum growing up. Whether it was accompanying her on boring trips to John Lewis at Brent Cross or going in rush hour traffic to my saxophone lessons, wherever we were going, Heart radio would always be on. At the time I’d moan, but now I’m so grateful as it’s where I listened to some of the soul greats — and Luther Vandross in particular stuck out. I’m pretty sure Heart radio played this song every single day.
6. Gustav Holst – The Planets – Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity
Fun fact – I have a grand total of four songs downloaded onto my phone. They are Stone Roses – I Am The Resurrection, La La Land – Summer Montage and Gustav Holst – The Planets – Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity. Please don’t ask me how this transpired, I really don’t know how. But I remember listening to The Planets suite when I was on an airplane, and it was dark and quiet and everyone around me was sleeping, and aside from feeling very silly and cinematic and dramatic, I just loved it. I listen to it all the time, and it never bores me. What you need on a desert island, I think.
7. Learn To Fly – Foo Fighters
I knew I had to decide between a Nirvana song or a Foo Fighters song for this list, and after a lot of umm-ing and aah-ing, I thought I might go for the slightly happier option to keep my spirits up on this mythical desert island. Foo Fighters were and probably still are one of my favourite bands, and I don’t think I’ll ever get over the heartbreak of thinking I was going to see them headline Glastonbury before Dave Grohl broke his leg and they had to pull out.
8. Lola’s Theme – The Shapeshifters
I had to include a song that commemorates my last few years at Uni. I have SO many good memories of this song coming on and dancing with my pals – it never fails to get a smile on everyone’s face. It makes me thinking of grinning glittery faces at Canal Mills, sweaty boogies at Hifi, silly house parties, raucous predrinks.