Tue Jan 31st, 2012 at 12:05:38 PM EST
For those unfamiliar with the radio show, DID is a radio institution which has been running for 70 years and each week the invited "castaway" is asked to nominate the 8 pieces of music, a book and luxury which they would choose to accompany them to a desert island. You also get the Bible and the complete works of Shakespeare.
So, I wondered if we might extend this venerable institution to ET. Whenever anyone feels the urge they can nominate the tracks of their years, put together a blurb on why they matter and so on. The only thing I can suggest is in comments can we try to stay on the subject of the author's choices and put their own in their own diary
So, here's mine. The narrative could have been very messy, so many choices, so many options. I wrote down a few dozen tracks I could have chosen, and even then I was leaving out so many others. Yet, once I decided I'd just mark the ones that had to be in, I found that the selection of eight had made itself.
I came late to music, I had two elder sisters who were both into the pop music of the time, particularly the Beatles and, being a trans person who was desperate to try to avoid being seen to do anything associated with femininity, decided that this pop thing was a girl thing and so wasn't for me. It wasn't till I was 13 when something utterly irresistible broke down the barriers I'd erected. I was just blown away by the sonic strangeness, the excitement of what was coming out of the radio. Whatever this world was they came from, I wanted to live there.....
I would come home from school and burn out the frustrations of the day just playing the song over and over and over again, freaking out in my rather formless 13 year old way. Six or seven repetitions of it and I was ready to face the world again. I don't think I'd have made it out of my early teenage sane without that record.
Not long after this I went to a friend's house and he boasted of this record he'd just bought which he said was unintelligible nonsense. So, to show off just how bad it was he played it: but it wasn't nonsense at all, it was quite frankly the most exciting thing I'd ever heard. And it probably still is. It was the Faust Tapes, a promotional record collage of out-takes from a german experimental band called Faust. It blew my mind then. It still does.
Having decided I rather like these german experimental bands, the next thing I acquired was "Limited Edition" by Can. Which led to their album "Soon Over Babaluma" and the track which displaced Silver Machine as my sanity clause, a phenomenon I explored in this diary. Still cures all known ills as far as I'm concerned.
Don't think for a minute that I just like strange noisy stuff, I was listening to Yes, Genesis and Emerson Lake and Palmer as well. But in 75 I went to see the mightiest of them all. Led Zeppelin live at Earls Court. Believe me folks, everything you heard is true, they were the best. Accept no substitutes. Oddly I hadn't heard anything much by them beforehand, I think just Led Zep II so I was aware of Whole Lotta Love, but that was about it.
Which meant that I went out to buy all their albums and since then the first, the bluesiest, has remained my favourite. It has an ambiance about it as if recorded in an urban basement with the sound of the traffic outside permeating every track as background hum. It sounds urgent, it makes you listen. And, of course this is the best track. I don't care that Pagey ripped it off from some guy, this is the real deal.
This next track, the Carrier from David Byrne/Brian Eno, is important to me because, as I've mentioned before, it's the one that put into my head the idea that I should learn to bellydance, a decision which became a saga in itself. I used to attend a rock disco at that time in Manchester and took this down one day. A friend suggested that, watching me "dance" to it, I should learn to bellydance. Laughably, once I had learned how to dance (sort of - I was never any good) I realised that this is a rubbish track for bellydancing. But never mind, any first step to adventure is a good one.
I don't know anything about My Bloody Valentine, I don't want to know anything, I don't need to. This is from the only single by them I have ever heard, a throwaway 4th track on an EP. I heard it by accident once when it was played on the radio when I was driving home from my parents, back in the days before boy/girl bands/RnB when pop music wasn't utterly hateful. I doubt it was the song from the EP the DJ meant to play, I just doubt he know any better.
I nearly crashed the car. Listening to this now I still don't know how I didn't, cos this is transcendent. To Here Knows When.
The final two songs are all wrapped up in the time when I was transitioning from male to female. As you can imagine, it's an emotional decision, a very uncertain time full of fears and hidden skeletons which pop out and accost you. Having braved all that I was distraught when, early on, I developed a severe allergic reaction to one of the hormones I was given and, for a few weeks it looked as if transitioning might not be possible.
These two songs sum up how I felt at the time and I cannot listen to either of them without remembering the emotions of the time.
Unusually for me, it's the lyrics which matter. My hearing doesn't distinguish well enough for me to hear lyrics easily. So other aspects are more important, the shapes the sounds make in my head and the way they flow together to show how the music is. I can be utterly lost in that. So, when lyrics matter, invariably something in my life has gone wrong.
The first, from the Blue Nile, is "Over the Hillside" from Hats. The final verse is the killer;-
I can't go on and I can't go back
I don't feel so, matter of fact
I tried and tried to make good sense
What's the good to try it all again?
I couldn't progress my transition, but I couldn't bear returning to the wrongness in my head that was masculinity. I'd always had that, after all, I'd lived with it all my life and felt "comfortable" with it, but once female hormones had eased that ache and shown me there was another way, I couldn't return. I was trapped. That lyric sums up that feeling.
This next song, Paper Wings by Gillian Welch, expresses the disappointment I was feeling. I thought I'd had happiness in my hands and I felt it was suddenly slipping through my fingers.
Paper wings, all torn and bent
But you made me feel that they were heaven sent
Paper wings, not real at all
But they took me high enough to really fall
Luckily, it was only a temporary halt and a slight change of medication. The continued supply of which would be my luxury.
As for a book, I read a lot, but rarely the same book twice. So a damn good history of the world would be good.
and as a band once said, This is my truth, now show my yours