Scott’s Desert Island Disks

Aged 15/16 moved for the first time to live in a town. There I met a group of older beatniks - the ones before hippies, who introduced me to alternative literature, music, culture and consciousnesses. It was a time of hope, despite the assassinations of MLK, JFK and RFK, Vietnam, the treason trial, Cuba, the Berlin wall, apartheid, the great leap forward, cultural revolution, etc. We had never had it so good: ‘good’ incomes, equal pay acts, decolonisation, fertility control, etc. Only later did we understand the times were a changin’, and before we realised the ‘right’ had taken back control (and that women got a raw deal). Now we have more wealth and a ‘me’ generation who lack our naivety.

I thought more of my choices would be from the mid 1980s on; maybe Jesuits are right about formative years (I could of got them all from 1967)!!

Disk 1

Bob Dylan, It's All over Now, Baby Blue (from Bringing it All Back Home, 1965)

The music the 'beatniks' introduced me to and the sound of a generation; still strong after 55 years. Still touring.

Disk 2

Laura Nyro, Beads of Sweat (from Christmas and the Beads of Sweat, 1970)

Probably the best white soul singer and songsmith ; found her music by accident in 1969. Taken tragically young.

Disk 3

Captain Beefheart, Moonlight on Vermont (from Trout Mask Replica, 1969)

Incomparable accompaniment to many late nights when we set the world to rights (and did not remember the solution when we woke up!!).

Disk 4

The Grateful Dead, Trucking (from American Beauty, 1970 - version Europe '72, 1972)

The greatest live band I ever saw (including the Doors, Stones, Who, etc); no more needs saying

Disk 5

Abdullah Ibrahim (Dollar Brand), Manneberg (from Voice of Africa, 1989)

The 'father' of Cape (South African) Jazz, promoted by Duke Ellington while in exile. An anti-apartheid anthem

Disk 6

Joni Mitchell, Sire of Sorrow - Job's Sad Song, (from Turbulent Indigo, 1994)

Took me a long time to understand why so many women rated her so highly (For Free piped at the post)

Disk 7

The Highwaymen, Sunday Morning Coming Down (from the Essential Highwaymen, 2010)

Heard Kris Kristofferson in 1970 (and 2019) and found the 'outlaw' country genre. He may have been cute in movies, but in the late 60's he redefined country music (with Townes Van Zandt). This also acknowledges Cash.

Disk 8

Van Morrison, Purple Heather (from Hard Nose the Highway, 1973)

Van the Man - rarely talks to the audience when he plays; lets his music do the work. Still gets me out when touring.

Disk 9

John Martyn, May You Never (from Solid Air, 1973)

"Voice of a whiskey soaked angel"; even after losing both legs (drugs & alcohol) did not complain and sounded great.

Disk 10

Max Romeo & the Upsetters, Uptown Babies Don't Cry, (from War Ina Babylon, 1976)

Returned to the UK in 1973 to find reggae had arrived. All the best reggae is political, but Romeo hits hardest.

Disk 11

Ali Farka Toure and Toumani Diabate, Debe (from Heart of the Moon, 2005)

The masters of west African (Malian) blues and kora; my lack of language skills is irrelevant here.

Disk 12

Leonard Cohen, Bird on a Wire (from Songs from a Room, 1969 - London 2009 version)

The true poet of the era. The perfect soundtrack to adolescent angst; yet his songs endure into old age.

Close misses

Billie Holliday, Strange Fruit (1939); Adele, Set Fire to the Rain (2011); Emmylou Harris, Wrecking Ball (1995); The Doors, The End (1967); Cream, White Room (1968); Neil Young, Living with War (2006); Dixie Chicks, Not Ready to Make Nice (2006); Bruce Springsteen, Born in the USA (1984).

Collected works

Ursula K Le Guin - the queen of science fiction writers

Single Book

Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse Five

Luxury Item

A hammock

Applied General Equilibrium Modelling ANNARES, STAGE and R23 Models

© Scott McDonald