Improbable Situations Discs

· culture ·

Encouraged by the new DRM-free iTunes Plus tracks, and in a fit of mild nostalgia, I bought a few tracks off albums that I only have on vinyl or (long defunct) cassette tapes. Among them were a selection of my favourite tracks from three of Kate Bush's early albums: 'Lionheart', 'Never For Ever' and 'The Kick Inside'. Listening to 'Oh England My Lionheart' for the first time in ages reminded me that it is one of my Improbable Situations Discs. This is a similar idea to Desert Island Discs, but covers a range of very specific and highly unlikely situations I might find myself in, and in which would -- in my opinion -- require a suitable soundtrack.

Quite why these particular bizarre situations have popped into my mind at various points I don't know, but I'm confident that I've chosen the right music to accompany them. There's nothing like being prepared... The links to the songs take you to the song on the iTunes Store (where available), in case you'd like to check them out.

  1. Seeing the Earth from Space: obviously, this calls for Hello Earth by Kate Bush. I might also feel the need to blot the Earth from sight "with just one hand/held up high". However, I would need to be careful about listening to this in a space suit: if the sight of the Earth from space wasn't enough to make my cry, listening to 'Hello Earth' while doing so definitely would, and I wouldn't want a blurry view.
  2. Having to escape from a burning building (or some other situation against impossible odds), possibly rescuing someone else in the process: Troy by Sinead O'Connor. I've always felt that listening to (or more likely thinking about) this song when in a situation requiring enormous fortitude would give me the strength to carry on. I suppose I'm trying to avoid being in a kind of Touching the Void situation with nothing but 'Brown Girl in the Ring' by Boney M playing in my head.
  3. Being the last human left alive: 'Walk This World' by Chris Wood. If you know the song, you can probably guess why I chose it. It has a certain kind of grim but resolute hopefulness about it which might cheer me in an odd way.
  4. Sinking into an aimless, numb rut: Time by Pink Floyd. Absolutely right to acknowledge the feeling but shock me out of it.
  5. Being permanently exiled from Britain: Oh England My Lionheart by Kate Bush. By all rights, this should be a terrible song (some may argue that it is, but I won't be swayed from my opinion). It references just about every 'Ye Olde England' cliché going -- Shakespeare, the Thames, Wassailing, apple orchards, shepherds, Spitfires and so on -- and as if that wasn't bad enough, features the harpsichord. It ought to sound either hopelessly twee or like an advert for the National Front or the BNP. I don't have a patriotic bone in my body, so I ought to loathe it. And yet, somehow, it's really moving. It makes me feel homesick while I'm still in England. Perhaps it's because it's about a kind of fictional, idealised England we create together. Or perhaps it's because of lines like:

Our thumping hearts hold the ravens in
And keep the Tower from tumbling

So those are my Improbable Situations Discs. Does anyone else have a similar list, or is it just me?