The strength of the desert island discs format is candour. Well, near candour anyway. Guests on the show seem to end up giving something away about themselves that you did not know before. Music to me is precious. Faced with the prospect of never hearing music again or losing a leg, I would amputate the leg myself with anything that came to hand and give it over, pronto. Although, to be honest, I have a very reasonable memory for tunes, and usually have one buzzing around my head at all times.
My earliest memories consist of "Val der ree, val der ra" whirling around my head, because, sadly, 1954 was a bad year for music, when I was born. The big hit of that year was the Obernkirchen Children's Choir with "The Happy Wanderer", a phenomenon in the true sense; it was less than a decade since the end of WW2, and the song was in the charts for six months of 1954. It was the best-selling sheet music of the year - and I have a copy!
To do the whole lot of Desert Island Discs in one go would not do the format justice, so for now, here is number one. This does not mean it is my favourite, or even that I like it now particularly, but it contains for me, more memory than a HAL 9000 memory stick. This song takes no choosing, it was the first single I ever bought, or that was bought for me, and cost, I think, 6/8d. For the embryos who read this, that means six shillings and eight old pence, equivalent to about 34p now, but in those days it would buy a small semi-detached house in a nice street, and still leave enough over for a fish supper. Cliff Richard was at one time head and shoulders above his peers. It was Cliff and the rest. While John and Paul were busy listening to Little Richard and Buddy Holly 78's, Cliff's presence in the British music scene of the early sixties more or less blotted out the competition. At least that was the way it seemed to a six-year old Weasel. The highlights of my movie experience were The Young Ones and Summer Holiday. These guys wore the kind of suits that looked as if they had been designed by NASA, out of some weird shiny material. It was in fact mohair and silk, and the suits were known as 40 Guinea suits. When the Shadows moved and did their trademark walk, it was as if a wormhole had appeared in the fabric of the space-time continuum. Everybody had an orgasm. Women had to be mopped up after wetting themselves and men melted with envy. Here first, is a clip that gives a sense of the look, and the energy of the Shadows:
At the age of ten I practised being Hank Marvin in front of mirror. I did not have a Fender Strat or a Burns double six, so made do with a broom handle stuck into a plastic flight bag. But I got the moves. The moves were the important thing.
Pop music is about the moment. It is about that moment when you shiver with anticipation when you get a brand new piece of vinyl in your hand, or some sheet music. It is about yearning to have and share in an identity, which is why it is so immediate and why it is assimilated by youth.