I thought that today I would write about something that is not Yoga or India related, but does relate to something that has been a huge part of my life for ever – music

I don’t listen to it often enough, but I have always loved the concept of Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs.  On this show, which has been running since 1942, celebrities (in the traditional sense of the word) talk about their life, and the music that has influenced or moved them.  They share 8 tracks that would accompany them when stranded on a fictitious desert island.  They are also allowed to take one book (in addition to the Bible and the complete works of Shakespeare) and a luxury item.

I recently listened to the episode of the show featuring Tom Hanks.  As everyone knows, Tom Hanks is ‘the nicest man in Hollywood, if not the world’, and his sharing really tugged at the heart strings, bringing tears to my eyes on a number of occasions.  He inspired me to think about my own choices again.  It is always a very hard list to compile in my mind, I love music such a lot, I find it impossible to truly list my 8 favourite albums, never mind list 8 songs I would like to be stranded with.  Hanks talked about music that conjured up happy memories for him; this gave me a new perspective on choosing my tracks.

Here, then, in no order of preference, are my Desert Island Discs.  I would love to learn what you would take

Paperback Writer – The Beatles

I adore The Beatles, have done since I was a child.  They have come and gone in my ‘currently listening to’ list, but they are at the heart of everything else I love.  It was once pointed out to me that The Beatles probably influences every other musical choice I make – even if bands aren’t directly influenced by them, there will be some Beatles-esque similarity or indirect influence in the music I listen to.  Maybe not true of everything, but certainly most.

This isn’t really one of my absolute favourite Beatles songs, it is actually impossible to choose a favourite.  This choice was inspired by what Tom Hanks said about music that captures a moment in time.  This song conjures up the day I have always thought of as the day I fell in love with The Beatles, a day I was taken to Barry Island with a friend’s father, in an open top car, listening to The Beatles.  This is the day I also tried my first curry, although I didn’t like it but did enjoy the poppadom!  I must have been 7 at the time, because I remember being upset (as upset as a 7 year old gets about such things) when I learned later that year that John Lennon had been murdered.

I loved this song because I did have childish dreams of writing a book, and now, as I write this, I am looking forward to actually being a paperback writer when ‘Bent Back into Shape‘ is released in a month or so!

Living in the Material World – George Harrison

While I love The Beatles as a collective, I have a very special place in my heart for George Harrison, who has influenced my life in so many ways I would need to devote a whole blog post to him alone.  Harrisons’s songs about his spiritual search and discoveries are, I believe, one of the reasons I found my way to Yoga, as they are the first awakening I had to Hindu spirituality and philosophy.

I vividly remember the moment I discovered that he had died, by news alert text message, and the very real grief I felt at the loss of this man who I had always hoped to see live. I still cry now sometimes about it!  His music brings such real joy to my life.  At the moment I am in a real George phase, and listen to him lots!

There are many songs I could have chosen but this one really stood out as the right choice; although I do not follow the Hare Krishna faith as Harrison did, the words of this song really touch me

Pachalbel’s Canon

There wasn’t much about school that I enjoyed, but one of my real joys was playing the violin.  I was in the school orchestra, and a local orchestra that brought kids from all the local schools together.  In one of these orchestras, we learned to play many tunes.  One of my favourites was Pachalbel’s Canon.   I have recently started listening to classical music again after being a confirmed rock fan for many years, and it has brought back so many memories and reminded me just how exciting classical orchestral music can be.  While this isn’t breathtakingly exciting in the way other pieces are, it is a beautiful piece of music that brings back happy memories of times in my life when i was able to forget about the bits of my life that I didn’t like and just enjoy being part of a group that made beautiful music!

Do You Hear The People Sing – Les Miserables

I was very lucky that my parents took my brother and I to see lots of West End musicals when we were children, I was very much raised with music constantly in the house, so it is no surprise that it is such an important part of my life.  Jesus Christ Superstar, I think, had quite a profound impact on me, setting the scene for my future taste in ‘rock’ music, and my taste in (bearded, long haired, hippy type) men!  The last time I watched that, I ended up with a constant ‘earworm’ that lasted for months and drove me to distraction, so unfortunately I am reluctant to watch or listen it it again!

One of the musicals that had a huge impact on me emotionally, and probably laid the foundations of my political views, was ‘Les Miserables‘.  I remember leaving the theatre in tears after watching this, and it still affects me deeply now.  I have chosen ‘Do you hear the people sing’ as it is such an optimistic, rousing song full of confidence that people can change society, I can imagine this lifting me up if I got down on the island!

Someone’s In The Wolf – Queens of the Stone Age

Queens of the Stone Age have been the band of the last decade (and then some!) for me.  I remember the first time I heard them, turning up ‘No One Knows’ really loud on the car radio, not knowing the name of  band but loving the track, then discovering with sheer delight that I would be seeing them live at a gig in Glasgow I was already beyond excited about.  By the time that gig came around, I was completely obsessed with this band, and spent many happy times seeing, listening to and meeting them. I gained a whole new group of friends through our shared love of the band when I joined the ‘rekordsrekords forum, and have had some great experiences, and sad times, as a result.  They are not the most ‘Yogic’ of musical choices by any stretch of the imagination – quite the opposite in fact,  but they have played a huge part in my life so I couldn’t possibly exclude them (nor would I want to – being stranded on a desert island without them as an option wouldn’t be good!).

I have chosen ‘Someone in the Wolf’, from the amazing ‘Lullabies to Paralyze‘. There are many incredible songs I could have chosen from this band, but I have gone  for this for many reasons.

  • It is one of those tracks that actually stops me breathing in wonder in parts – not the best thing to do, but music that does this is to be celebrated I think.
  • The opening line from the song ‘Once you’re lost in twilight blue, You don’t find the way, the ways finds you’ is one that I would like to get as a tattoo one day, as it sums up for me my transformation through Yoga (there is a saying in Yoga ‘when the student is ready, the Guru appears’).
  • I remember seeing this song played live in Reading Festival in 2005, fighting my way through the crowd to get to the front to watch as they played this, and loving every second of it, utterly losing myself in the music

Barber of Seville Overture – Rossini

I first heard this (or became really aware of it) when watching ‘Help!‘, one of my all time favourite films, by The Beatles, where it appears in the end credits.  I only realised what it was when listening to a classical playlist on Spotify last year, and then listened to, and fell in love with, the whole opera.  I went to see a production of it in the Wales Millenium Centre recently, and was utterly distraught that it was performed in English, not the beautiful Italian that I was expecting!  One day I will see The Barber of Seville in Italian – preferably in Italy! 🙂

108 Om Chants – Dr Ananda Balayogi Bhavanani

This video isn’t actually the part of the album I would like to take, I can;t find a video to show this unfortunately. The 108 Om chants is a Pratyahara practice known as ‘japa’ that helps to focus the mind and create stillness. I have done this a few times either accompanied by Dr Ananda’s album, simply by chanting ‘Om’ repeatedly until I feel like I want to stop, or with my Mala beads. It is a very relaxing, focusing, deep practice that can be a great way to start the day. The album this chant is from, Dr Ananda’s chanting of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras.  The book that I will take to my desert island instead of The Bible will be Dr Ananda’s Understanding the Yoga Dasrshan, so the Om chanting will be the perfect accompaniment.

My final selection…..

This is really hard, because when I compiled my list this morning, I had it in my head that I was allowed to choose 10 tracks, not 8 – so I sacrificed so many songs I love deeply, and got my list down to 10, then doscovered that I had to take 2 songs from that list! DISASTER!

I managed to make a decision, I will take a little bit of Wales with me in the form of the wonderful super Furry Animals.

Run Christian Run – Super Furry Animals

I discovered this band purely out of a massive case of FOMO! I was going to see a Queens of the Stone Age and Eagles of Death Metal gig in Somerset House in London with a friend who was, the night before, also going to see SFA, along with half the Rhondda it seemed. I didn’t want to spend the whole journey to London listening to him telling me what a great gig I didn’t go to, so decided to go. I bought ‘Rings around the world’ a few days before and liked it, but when I got to the gig and started to experience the magic that was created on the stage, I fell in love. I was completely sober, as I was driving, yet I didn’t stop moving till we returned to the car, even dancing through the streets to the car, to a band who had just moved into my heart and have stayed there ever since. I have seen them many times since, and will never tire of them

I ended up being even more glad I experienced this wonderful gig as the gig we were aiming for the next day got cancelled due to the July 7 bomb in London. A tragic day for so many, the cancellation of a gig was the least of real problems that day, but I always remember it for that, and the relief that my brothers were ok.

My book

The book I would choose would be the Step by Step coursewritten by Swami Gitananda. This is the course that changed my life. Isolation on a desert island with this to accompany my days would be no hardship at all, I could grow and evolve and be blissfully happy.

I wouldn’t want the Bible, as I would probably not read that, so instead I would take ‘Understanding the Yoga Darshan’ by Dr Ananda. This is an explanation of the Yoga Sutras, one of the great yoga scriptures, so it is a spiritual book in alignment with the idea of having the Bible, so I see no conflict in this switch.

My luxury

This is easy – I would need an inexaustable supply of paper and pens (preferably purple pens) to enable me to complete the exercises in the Step by Step course and maintain a regular Swadhyaya (self study) practice

I would love to know what you would choose as your desert island selections, please comment your choices below!

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Esther Nagle
Teacher, writer, speaker at Balance and Breathe
Esther is a former alcoholic, smoker and all round stressed out mess. She found the path to health, happiness, freedom and joy through Yoga. She is a passionate advocate for the power of Yoga, and time in Nature, in bringing balance to life, and giving you control over your health, happiness and wellbeing.

Esther is a powerful public speaker, writer and author. Her first book, Bent Back into Shape, Beating Addiction Through Yoga, has gained many 5 star reviews and has helped many people along their recovery journey.

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