Belle Lettre's Desert Island Discs 14 November 2011

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Belle Lettre
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Belle Lettre's Desert Island Discs 14 November 2011

Postby Belle Lettre » 14 Nov 2011, 19:30

I have been asked to bring mine forward as someone wasn’t ready. Here goes:

I have read all the previous entries with ever-increasing wonder, and a gnawing sense of inadequacy. I can’t think that anyone could really be that interested in the story of my life, but for the purpose of this project, I will begin by saying that geography does play some part in what is to follow – indirectly at times. But I digress. You want some music, don’t you? My Desert Island Canon.

Except for my first song. Some of you may have gleaned that I have Palestinian origins. To be exact, my father. Having fled Palestine in the Nakba of 1948, he and his family managed to obtain Lebanese citizenship after a while through some great-uncle or other having the requisite nationality. In this they were a good deal luckier than most refugees in Lebanon,who to this day are unable to have a proper passport. Dad met my (Scottish!) mother while working in Bahrain and they were married back in Beirut and that is where I was born. Though we moved back to the Gulf (Dubai)soon afterwards, we spent part of each summer and the Easter holidays in Lebanon, and the great Fairuz made up a good deal of the soundtrack of my very young childhood. Here she is, singing “Habbaytak biSayf”’( I Loved You In Summer). Even if you can’t abide this sort of thing, she’s not got a bad set of pipes.



As to my parents’records, there were not that many. My mum only had one worth nicking later on – here is my favourite track from that. (There was also a copy of Abbey Road, which I took just for the hell of it.)




I have fallen into the trap of writing too much at the outset. The rest will seem a bit rushed.
I’ve said that part of the summers were spent in Lebanon. The other part was spent at my aunt’s house in Scotland. Apart from the touching habit the locals had of calling me a “darkie”, due to my inevitably deep tan and coming from an outlandishly named place they'd never heard of,this involved playing outside nearly all the time, going up to the woods, riding my cousin’s chopper, Dr Who,and Top Of The Pops. Ah yes! I didn’t miss out completely. Though there was a radio station of sorts in Dubai in those days, they were a bit behind the times. There was one song that got a fair amount of airtime, however, and I’m still very fond of it. Here you go:



Back to mucking around in Scottish back greens, and we used to play a version of Port and Starboard involving shouting out the initials of our favourite acts,for the others to race up and give the name. There was one main contender, not much of a surprise, and mainly due to this song.



Living in Dubai in the late 1970s made the question of my schooling a bit problematic – there had been a very good (British) primary school, but as yet there were no secondaries. I spent one term at boarding school back in Lebanon, but my time there was cut short abruptly as I was bundled out of the country when the civil war intensified. I’d been horribly homesick ( I was only ten!) but was just starting to like the school when I had to leave. I’ll spare you any musical memories from that time as I think our dormitory mostly played the soundtrack of “Joseph’’and some Hits of ’74 album or other that had things like Kung Fu Fighting on it. I was whisked to the UK,specifically the Lake District, in January. Ouch. A rude awakening, a chilly school building, and unfamiliar food. There were more radios though, and things began filtering through. I used to spend half-terms with a stodgy old couple, friends of my parents, who lived in Morpeth. In Woolworths there, one day, I heard a record that I remembered from the radio, but had no idea what it was called. So I went up to the counter and asked if I could please buy the song that was playing right now. Here it is, my first single at the age of 12:



The shitty adverts on that video disappear if you look at it full screen.

I can’t post everything that followed on from that here, of course. I'll content myself with remembering how, given that my contemporaries were fixated on Supertramp, Meatloaf and Steely bloody Dan, I felt so desperately proud a couple of years later when I trudged back to school from the village clutching my silvery film canister, The Metal Box. So here’s my favourite track.





Then my tastes were -not derailed,but definitely diverted. A new girl arrived in the Lower Sixth, with patchouli stains on her denim jacket, and a couple of cassettes made for her by her boyfriend who, she said, “liked heavy rock”.
??
Side A of one cassette was slipped into the tape recorder. Though I knew the band’s name, ( they had already broken up), and may have heard something from their last album on the radio, what was on this tape was their fourth album. And that was that.



The other side introduced me to Jimi Hendrix, and there was another cassette with Master of Reality on one side and Paraniod (sic) on the other, but my allowance is diminishing – in fact:

Horror! I have only one track left, and I haven’t even left school! Well, to be honest, the years that followed simply involved more steeping in Zep and the rest, together with a prolonged flirtation with goth-related entertainment at university. I was a bit narrow-minded, too. Just imagine, I refused even to listen to King Crimson in those days.Getting together with my husband did mean I ended up listening to his music a lot more, as for one thing he possessed about four times as many records as I did. Not that I deserted my favourites. We spent many years living back in Dubai, as it happens, and I got out of the habit of listening to anything other than tried and tested standards. Though I could build up an amusing pastiche involving the amount of driving I had to do, the music I had in the car, and my son always asking for Cream when he was a toddler, there are insufficient tracks remaining.

But we are back in England now.Whatever we think of BCB’s shortcomings, joining up here has enabled me to discover an awful lot of music I’d never heard of . I’ll always be grateful for that. Or try to be, when I’ve got a moan on. So for the last track I ought to pick something I came to love directly or indirectly through BCB. But I also need to give credit where credit is due. In addition to all his other attributes, my much maligned Robert Plant, when I saw him with the Strange Sensation, did a cover of an Arthur Lee and Love song. (Seven And Seven Is). Who? thought I. Somehow I’d never heard of them. Then I forgot again, till I came here. Once a toe is dipped into YY there is no way to avoid finding out about Forever Changes. So my last track is from the album that has made me succcumb to those shivers of appreciation more than any other for a long while;




If I had to pick one over the others, I suppose I’d take the Zeppelin though. I hope the desert island is big enough to run around, as my luxury is a pair of Asics Gel Kayano running shoes. When knackered, I will flop on the sand and read the annotated edition of Lolita. Can I have a swimsuit too?

Well, that’s over and done with! And I never even mentioned reggae. Could I have another two tracks?
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Re: Belle Lettre's Desert Island Discs 14 November 2011

Postby Minnie Cheddars » 14 Nov 2011, 19:34

No you can't you greedy buggar!

Fabulous Carol, fabulous. Really 'got' that sense of being a bit of an outsider....aaah, smashing.


Thanks!
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Re: Belle Lettre's Desert Island Discs 14 November 2011

Postby ConnyOlivetti » 14 Nov 2011, 19:41

Great read!
thanks!
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Re: Belle Lettre's Desert Island Discs 14 November 2011

Postby quix » 14 Nov 2011, 19:50

damn it... some of the Youtube videos won't show on my phone... I don't know why it does that!

I'll have to wait till the weekend when I'll be at pc..

looking forward to it.

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Re: Belle Lettre's Desert Island Discs 14 November 2011

Postby der nister » 14 Nov 2011, 19:56

great stuff,
don't worry about rules
add as much as you wish
It's kinda depressing for a music forum to be proud of not knowing musicians.

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Re: Belle Lettre's Desert Island Discs 14 November 2011

Postby Jeff K » 14 Nov 2011, 20:42

That's quite an adventurous musical journey from Roxy Music, the Stranglers, PiL to Hendrix and LZ.

Fantastic read!
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Re: Belle Lettre's Desert Island Discs 14 November 2011

Postby Copehead » 14 Nov 2011, 20:45

Great first single.

I'd be interested in your 2 top reggae tracks as well
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Re: Belle Lettre's Desert Island Discs 14 November 2011

Postby Belle Lettre » 14 Nov 2011, 20:52

I need to think..Under Mi Sensi would be one.
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Re: Belle Lettre's Desert Island Discs 14 November 2011

Postby C » 14 Nov 2011, 22:43

A delightfully robust read.

Good lass





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Re: Belle Lettre's Desert Island Discs 14 November 2011

Postby Corporate whore » 14 Nov 2011, 23:57

Many thanks for stepping in Carol, much appreciated.
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Re: Belle Lettre's Desert Island Discs 14 November 2011

Postby Leg of lamb » 15 Nov 2011, 18:33

Excellent, Belle. I'm stuck at work and this took me on a journey out of the staff room - so thanks.

It's an interesting journey, going from punk and post-punk to classic rock. Seems open-minded as much as anything.
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Re: Belle Lettre's Desert Island Discs 14 November 2011

Postby savoirefaire » 15 Nov 2011, 18:59

Brilliant! So glad you got one Led Zep track in just in time! :P
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Re: Belle Lettre's Desert Island Discs 14 November 2011

Postby Corporate whore » 16 Nov 2011, 17:41

Bump
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Re: Belle Lettre's Desert Island Discs 14 November 2011

Postby CatnHat » 16 Nov 2011, 20:02

Really good Carol - I was waiting for the LZ track too :D
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Re: Belle Lettre's Desert Island Discs 14 November 2011

Postby kath » 16 Nov 2011, 21:00

that was great. robustly seminal...

wait a second. hold up on the whole seminal thing.

ya know, belle, as a person whose turn is ahead, i agree it can be daunting when one considers the entries already written... many of em posted by serial crit writers, bloggers, whatever. but aside from a handful of women on the list, i would remind you that 92.7% of these writers are pasty, pallid, ill-bred, grain-fed, habitually unlaid, closet-dweebed, nerdflurfflin jack-a-fucques who couldn't handle a knot in their own shoelaces, depending on the hangover level and the significance of the knot, let alone manage the island loop-de-loop marathon (god luv em, of course). or what of their handling the first onset of the infamous coconut hole happy flu without rolling over and immediately launching into death throes?

yes, i am being a sexist bastard, albeit with tongue-in cheek (not that it means i am wrong.)

the point: what a reader finds "interesting" is a subjective thing, indeed. in fact, one (one here meaning my ass) might even have been looking forward to a fascinating, intelligent, well-written, groovily-musicked post from a person who is not among that 92.7% club. with a family background and a history such as yers, yer planet bopping, yer unique musical time line... how can you think that's not stand-out and intriguing? this borders on flying teaset silliness.

but enough of that crap. to the core of the matter: zep.

ohhhhhhhhh yeah.

strangely enough, there's gonna be a lil zep on my island, too. surprised? (but no steely bloody dan. mwhaha.)

p.s. lolita is one of my top twenty books ever written in the history of bookdom.

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Re: Belle Lettre's Desert Island Discs 14 November 2011

Postby the masked man » 16 Nov 2011, 21:03

Lovely read. Many thanks, Carol.

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Re: Belle Lettre's Desert Island Discs 14 November 2011

Postby Belle Lettre » 17 Nov 2011, 07:45

Thanks for all the comments. I am glad to have taken part after all. :)
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Re: Belle Lettre's Desert Island Discs 14 November 2011

Postby Bungo the Mungo » 17 Nov 2011, 10:03

glad to see you gave PROG the swerve, lettre. i feared a molotov cocktail of zappa, beefheart and the dead.

overall a strange eclectic selection from a strange poster with a colourful life story.

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Re: Belle Lettre's Desert Island Discs 14 November 2011

Postby Conrad Knight Socks » 17 Nov 2011, 12:38

good stuff
I kept thinking "swim as far as you can, swim as far as you can".

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Re: Belle Lettre's Desert Island Discs 14 November 2011

Postby Quaco » 17 Nov 2011, 16:19

Best set of tunes so far!
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