Whispering Bob Harris is a much-respected DJ, with a particular interest in country music… and much more! He acquired his nickname for obvious reasons and has been broadcasting and presenting for over forty years. He was on Desert Island Discs this week, the radio programme where a celebrity or personality, has to choose eight records to take to a desert island. What interested me about Whispering Bob, as much as the stories he told about his life, from following his father into the police force, to presenting ‘The Old Grey Whistle test’ and DJ-ing, was the way he had chosen his records. Each of his records marked a time in his life, so they were like a soundtrack to his biography.
Bob was born in 1946, and for as long as he could remember his parents had the radio playing at home; he was an only child but he seems to have had plenty of friends, and I loved the story he told of his mates coming round with their new records and the lads all playing them to each other in the cellar of the house.
I’ve written before about Desert Island Discs and how difficult it must be to choose songs or music which is precious or important or precious, but I’ve never thought of tying it into represent certain times in my life… although, obviously to a certain extent this must happen just through what is chosen!
So if I had to choose my eight ages of music…
- Something from my radio-listening childhood, maybe the theme music to Paul Temple, ‘Coronation Scot’ composed by Vivian Ellis
- There has to be something by the Beatles, the music of my teenage years… but goodness, how could I choose? Or maybe a Beach Boys number from my swimming club days… Good Vibrations, maybe
- David Bowie… there has to be some Bowie from my more sophisticated musical development, maybe ‘Ashes to Ashes’ or ‘China Girl’
- Falling in love and listening to Leonard Cohen, the wit and wisdom and sheer poetry of the man was an inspiration
- Manchester… my wonderful life in Manchester… Marvin Gaye maybe, or the Temptations, Jackie Wilson… or Otis… what about Otis?
- Moving to Oldham and listening to Aztec Camera
- Marrying my beloved and having two fabulous children, moving to the west country and discovering the Mavericks… anything at all by them, just anything!
- Becoming a full-time writer, it has to be ‘Oh What a Thrill’ by the Mavericks (yes I know they appear twice but they have been hugely influential in many, many ways, and I am so grateful to them for the friends they have brought me, and the inspiration they have given me!)
If you’re interested in Whispering Bob, then here is a link – and his site has a link to his desert island!