Simanaitis Says

On cars, old, new and future; science & technology; vintage airplanes, computer flight simulation of them; Sherlockiana; our English language; travel; and other stuff


YESTERDAY, MIRANDA CARTER introduced Desert Island Discs, a long-running BBC interview program, its theme describing desirable musical accompaniments to castaway island living. We continue today with tidbits about this, together with my own choices for castaway listening.

Desert Island Disc Interviewees. London Review of Books writer Miranda Carter observes, “For decades the famous and worthy, or would-be worthy, have queued up to appear on it.”

As an example, she notes, “On his death in 1965, Herbert Morrison, Clement Attlee’s heir presumptive for 25 years, was found to have a list of his eight favourite songs in his wallet in case he should ever be invited on—he never was.” 

A Modified List. In 1951, interviewee lists were expanded to include a book as well as an additional necessary luxury. The Bible and Shakespeare were frequent book choices. Carter notes, “The first luxury, chosen by the actress Sally Ann Howes, was garlic, distressingly rare in postwar Britain.”

With regard to recorded episodes, Carter reports, “Six minutes survive of a bracingly blunt [actor] Oliver Reed, though there’s nothing, sadly, of his luxury, an inflatable doll…. [Jazz artist] Ronnie Scott asked for a Faye Dunaway doll, though Plomley persuaded him to take a saxophone instead.”  

An Urban Myth. Carter describes, “It even has its own urban myth, in which Brigitte Bardot tells Roy Plomley that she wants ‘a peenis’ for her luxury. Choking on his microphone he eventually realises she means ‘’appiness.’ ” The fact is, Bardot never appeared on Desert Island Discs.

My Castaway Choices. Times change; these days I imagine my island has WiFi. Here, in no particular order, are six of my castaway YouTubes

Peggy Bélonger’s Amati, Io Vi So Dire. I love this rendering of Benedetto Ferrari’s lilting ballad.

Peggy Bélonger’s Amati, Io Vi So Dire.

Wagner’s Prelude to Tristan und Isolde. Somber though it is, the music’s exquisite premonition of the Liebestod is especially moving.

Nora Jones Man of the Hour. I love Nora ignoring “a vegan and a pothead” and choosing “you because you’re sweet and you give me lots of loving and you eat meat.”

Nora Jones Man of the Hour.

This one is in memory of Wife Dottie’s St. Bernard Max.

A Copland Duo. Aaron Copland is my favorite composer. I include his suite from Our Town and, especially, “The Promise of Living” from his opera The Tender Land. 

My Preferred Recessional. If ever anyone has a Celebration of Life for me, I have its perfect recessional: Serenade by British composer Derek Bourgeois.  

Derek Bourgeois’ Serenade.  

I’ll be amused as people walk out to its jaunty time signature of 11/8, then 13/8, then back to 11/8. ds

© Dennis Simanaitis,, 2022 

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