On 16 December 2007 Paul Weller was inaugurated into that wonderful cast of cultural heroes that have been castaway to  a desert island. Allowed to take just one of the eight records that they have ‘waxed’ (if you will ignore the pun) lyrical about on the show Desert Island Discs.

Out of loyalty The Small Faces, but, musically Nick Drake.

…says Paul Weller according to the wonderful book ‘Nick Drake’s River Man’ by Jochen Markhorst. Weller is clear when he is asked to pick his one song out of the famous eight he has explained on the show.

The show has been around since 1942 and by now well over 25,000 pieces of music have been consigned to that desert island. In the summer of 2023 I was lucky enough to go on a radio show loosely based on the same theme, I got to pick my top four songs and explain a little as to why they mean so much to me. Rangoli Radio is a global radio show ‘built’ to inspire people, built to create cultural understanding and share ways to have an acceptance of different cultures and it was an amazing honour to be asked to be on this show. The question of my songs is one I agonise over, same as top five books or top five films, or, well top five anything, I am a list maker and I love to get to the end of a thought process and feel like I have created the moment in time that will last forever.

Interesting though, do your top five ever get ‘finished’ or does it grow and change, mood dependent, environment dependent, even who you are with dependent. I am fascinated by the way our lists change and grow and move. Today, thinking hard I would put my Desert Island Discs as the eight below.

  1. He Ain’t Heavy He’s My Brother – The Hollies
  2. Mini – Corduroy
  3. All My Friends – LCD Soundsystem
  4. Les Nuits – Nightmares On Wax
  5. Wicked Game – Chris Isaak
  6. Sometimes It Snows In April – Prince
  7. Teardrops – Womack and Womack
  8. Today Was A Good Day – Ice Cube

… but I immediately note there is no U2 in there, its quite a contemplative list too and a lot less electronic music than I would have thought, and only one HipHop song too which is surprising given how much I listen to that genre. It kind of reflects my life a bit though in as much as I can speak to a moment in time when each of those songs would have been ‘my’ song of the moment and that moment has great memories associated to it. Is it nostalgia though and actually is nostalgia the best way to remember your greatest hits.

I read an interview with the author David Nichola on the eve of One Day being aired as a TV show. He was contemplating the speed of time and how it feels like it changes.

Time accelerates and I struggle to understand how there can be 15 years between Love Me Do and the Sex Pistols, but nearly 30 years since the release of Common People.

He goes on to comment that he feels like his youth now can be seen as a period drama, after all his Blue Monday was Rock Around the Clock, how did that happen? As a side note, One Day didn’t make it into my top 8 books but… it is a fabulous story that I love dearly.

So those songs then, The Hollies felt like an ‘inheritance’ in as much as this was the first time I knew about a piece of music before someone else in my friend group did as it made its way back to number one in 1988 off the back of an advert. My parents were huge Hollies fans and I had been able to tape their records to a Walkman ready compilation cassette. I was now playing some of their other stuff, dropping in that Elton John had played piano with them, this was that awakening of music love for me, knowing about something in a bit more detail, playing neatly to my statistics/detail brain that I felt I needed to really ‘own’ the enjoyment of something.

Corduroy were an obsession for me, I was obsessed with everything that came out on Acid Jazz as I did my first couple of years at University but Corduroy were really everything for me. What they said in interviews, their art work to the singles, how they looked and their history. I had obsessions before, Prince being the most prevalent one but this was different. I was the chief cheer leader for them across Luton and Bedfordshire ensuring they came and played the Students Union and insisting that me and a bunch of friends went to London on several occasions to see them ‘blow-up’ places in Camden. They supported Blur at the famous Alley Palace gig in 1994 (along with Supergrass and Pulp) and were the best band of the night despite, lets face it, some very stiff competition. Its interesting how even now in the 2020s I can still go and see them and be transported right back to where I was. A relatively unique music in so many ways and Mini, a single from their third album plays up to the changing way music was being joined up. Tribes of people listening to only their genre was ending and Mini, still not a song from a well known band was becoming anthem, even being heard in the café on Eastenders!

All My Friends was next on the list. I was a late comer to LCD Soundsystem, a cool friend in Leeds shared a mix CD with me and it had all sorts of stuff on there, and I fell in love with James Murphy and the band, and once I heard All My Friends it felt like I had made a friend for life! It’s a song that you can go back to no matter what mood you are in I think, it will calm you, it will heighten your mood and even give you chance to think about all those friends that have been there for you. The ‘mix tape’ though, often the perfect gift I used to think, the amount of cassettes I went through as an 18 year old at college, tapes for every occasion; and when someone reciprocated it was such a wow moment for me. The art of making the perfect tape was taught to me by my best friend, Mr. John Rockley, I say an art because he had it down to an art, sometimes the wilfully obscure and often the on purpose cheesy all mixed in with a theme and a story that took you away on a journey. LCD may be the last band I found through the traditional ‘mix tape’ method, now adays its Shazam and recommendations I guess, more instant but lets face it less art involved, I miss the mis the mix tape moment.

In some ways the Nightmares On Wax story flows neatly from this one. NOW to me is the most current ‘mixologist’ in the true sense of the word, in as much as he picks the tunes for you the audience and he picks them so well. When you go to his own music though you are in for a treat and maybe Les Nuits is the best piece of music ever made… wow that’s a big statement, but for me its one of those ‘noises’ that fits my world completely. Its reminiscent of the sun going down, my wife walking down the aisle, the moment when I tested my new stereo, the first song I played in my/every new car I have had. Seeing him play (and chat) at Leeds Electronic Music Festival was such a treat. A person who believes in home, his city and his origins. Every time some new music comes out I marvel at its duality of the complex and simple and fall in love again with this song and the album this is from. You think its not that well known but I can think of so many times when this piece of music has been mentioned and some wise person nods and agrees, fascinating and joyous for me I think.

Do we all have a song that we sang at the top of our voices as kids? Mine was the Chris Isaak classic, no mean feat to ‘yell’ this at the top of your voice as you wandered the streets of Nottingham after maybe indulging in a little too much ‘pop’. It was either this or the seminal Inspiral Carpets tune ‘This is how it feels…’ that got rattled out. It makes it to the list for that reason, the memories it can induce but also its origins. Songs from cinema, particularly original moments in cinema I think enhance each others artistic presence. Wicked Game features in Wild At Heart so many times in so many different ways. A snippet here, an instrumental version there, some snatched lyrics and moments woven in throughout. The film itself I still see as an art moment, odd to the point of hard to watch sometimes but with a cast that for me caries every moment of the story almost entirely through their facial expressions, and in reality another introduction from those 18 year old days that has completely stayed with me. The vocal sound of Chris Isaak is stil something I would describe as spectacular on this track.

Am I learning as I put this together that my forever songs are largely from my dim and distant past, what does that say; am I living in the past too much or maybe its just songs need time to really and truly become so much part of the sub-consciousness. I think of myself as someone who listens to new music, evaluates what I’ve heard every year, and yet this list is mostly something with a big story to it.

As if I am a radio two DJ with a cheesy link, that takes me on to the next song. Prince Rogers Nelson; a loss like no other to music of the past, present and future. Picking my one Prince song is definitely something that would change next week if you asked me to do it, mood and status of mind making such a huge difference to this one, draft one of this blog had The Cross in there, a Saturday night redraft had Sexy MF in there but as I get ready to publish the one I keep coming back to is Sometimes… a song from another film. Parade the album and Under the Cherry Moon the film were in my mind seminal moments in my Prince education which oddly started only with Batman, worked backwards through the catalogue and nowadays sees me able to sing along to almost everything he ever put out, and that’s a big body of work. Sometimes.. is a beautiful song, a song of loss and heartache and maybe a little of hope in what happens next.

Next is another song from my parents education of my musical taste. One that I think that fits now just as it did when we sat and saw Womack and Womack perform on Top of the Pops as a family in 1988. Teardrops feels like a song about the future and how hope, even with sadness, allows us to know we can and should aim to be inspired and inspiring. The song is on the Conscience album from 1988, an album that to me feels like it celebrates a family and how they come together to create something. As Bobby Womack aged, like so few artists do (I think), he got better and better and some of his last work was just sublime. As I say that step up Johnny Cash and Bowie himself who made genius moments at the end of their art filled amazing lives.  Its strange how this song for me has such a regular appearance in my life, a funky version played out in Café Mambo on my first ever visit, nightclub versions on several occasions playing at my wedding and me dancing with my wonderful wife, so many moments of longevity associated to this song!

And so, song eight. As I mentioned earlier I look at the list and find myself a bit surprised by the lack of Hip Hop which I listen to a lot now but perhaps that’s a relatively new ‘obsession’ too. Today Was A Good Day was released in 1993 on the Predator album, many views it as Cube’s best ever work, the internet sleuths have tried to work out which day it was whilst Cube holds on to the fact that it is a fictional piece of work. (20/01/92 was for a long time thought to be ‘the’ good day, whereas recent investigations suggest 30/11/1988) Despite the ‘language’ in the song for me again it’s a song of hope and in the face of huge adversity. Perhaps a reaction to the LA riots and in part I think a reaction to fame and success when all ‘you’ want is to have the best life. It emits an almost quiet sense of violent anxiety and laid against the rest of the album it is the most laid back moment. For me its one of those songs that I don’t want to hear a different version of (ever) but I do want to hear what happened next, Good Day two would be a brilliant sequel.

Songs that tell a story, openly or in your head as the listener clearly connect for me. As I look back through my list, a genre skipping run around, each of them to me tells a story. Is that my overlay though or is it what the writer of the songs meant?

To wind back, as I put this out there now I know already that tomorrow the list will change, grow, move and be influenced by what is around us now, how we feel and what we hear. The influence the environment you are in has on your taste is quite remarkable I guess that’s why I feel I need to accept that it changes and grows and alters, so enjoy this as my moment in time in February 2024, in March I am convinced it could be different, so lets hope I never end up on that desert island, or maybe the need to hear something else would be what drives me to build a raft and sail away.

Enjoy my message in this bottle…





In case you were interested, top eight ‘other’ things for that desert island;


  • Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe,
  • If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things by Jon McGregor,
  • The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb,
  • The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach
  • Nobody’s Fool by Richard Dusso
  • Saturday by Ian McEwan
  • Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon
  • Harbour by Lorraine Adams

Memories of Gigs

  • Prince – Nude Tour – August 1990 – London
  • Shakespears Sister – May 1992 – Nottingham
  • Pulp – June 2002 – Sherwood Forest
  • Blur – January 1997 – Nottingham
  • U2 – July 2017 – Dublin
  • Crazy P – May 2019 – Leeds
  • Fatima Yamaha – November 2016 – Dublin
  • McAlmont and Butler – November 2009 – Birmingham


  • Say Anything
  • Drive
  • Baby Driver
  • Malcom X
  • Do The Right Thing
  • Before Sunrise
  • La La Land
  • Empire Strikes Back


  • Mad Men
  • West Wing
  • The Wire
  • Love/Hate
  • Battlestar Galactica
  • True Blood
  • House of Cards
  • Twin Peaks


……. I am hoping One Day makes this list later in 2024!