Sunday, 26 May 2013

Alice Walker's Desert Island Discs

I was fascinated by last week's Desert Island Discs, in which Pulitzer Price winnerAlice Walker talked not only about her life's work as a writer, but also her childhood and young adulthood. She spoke movingly about the accident that affected her life as a child, but that initiated her writing, and generally of experiencing racism in the south of the US. 

The Colour Purple  was lambasted by some people in the US, and her diary, Honouring the Difficult, addressed the criticism. She has one child and also talked about motherhood in a way I found fascinating. I loved to hear about her relationship with the earth; how she eats her own vegetables and keeps chickens. Her position on how she tackles a poem, in contrast to a novel, is worth listening to. You can still catch the entire programme pm

 I loved her choice of records, which included the wondrous Stevie Wonder et al., and wondered what my own would be. Possibly, I would follow my own life and start with Gilbert and Sullivan, which I sang to at my father's piano, and take in Mendelssohn's Octet, the overture to La Boheme, Queen and the Beatles.

But, when I was quite small, my half brother emigrated to Oz. His two children wer more or less my age and at first we wrote letters to them, but they were not very good at replying. Then, out of the blue, a reel of audio tape arrived in the post. Clearly, we were supposed to play this. My mother went straight out and bought a reel-to-reel player and we listened to Harold, Mel, Stuart and wife Pat talking to us all the way from the other side of the world. Now we could also record our voices and send reels back. But even this trailed off...very soon we weren't communicating. So, at the time I was just beginning to listen to pop music, I had total control of the tape recorder. I spend untold happy hours listening to Radio One and recording the hits of the time. I made it my business to try to get the entire top twenty for each week - quite an obsession. After a bit, though, old reels began to hold really treasured recordings that I didn't tape over in my quest for the new top twenties. Quite recently, I tried to remember what these were. I'm still catching up, but I'm sure they included....

The night has a thousand eyes - Bobby Vee
Hey Jude - the Beatles - well, anything by the Beatles
Feel me, touch me - The Who
McCartha Park (who was this?)
Whiter shade of Pale – procol harem

Woodstock  Crossby stills and Nash
Bohemian Rhapsody Queen/don't stop me now - well, anything by Queen
YMCA villagte people
American Pie – don Maclean
I’m not in Love 10CC
25 or 6 to 4 – Chicago
Spinning Wheel- blood Sweat and Tears
Matchstick men and Matchstick Cats and Dogs Brian and Michael
Midnight by the Oasis Maria Muldaur
Dancing in the street Martha and the Vandellas
Space Oddity = David Bowie
Saturday Night’s alright for Fighting – Elton John
Dancing in the Moonlight King Harvest
It’s raining Men – the Weather Girls
OKAY, by the time some of these were released, there were no more reel-to-reel recorders in the shops, but you get the idea...

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