My Desert Island Discs Playlist

I’ve written before about Desert Island Discs, a BBC-produced podcast that interviews public figures about the eight songs they’d want access to if they were stuck on a desert island. In between explanations of each selected song, they discuss their upbringing, the growth of their careers, and what they anticipate in time to come. Its archive goes back to the 1940s, and while most new episodes feature figures only those in the UK would know, there are also plenty of appearances from American and global stars.

The reasoning behind guests’ song choices varies. Some may pick music that is significant to a certain time in their life or has always meant something to them. Others think more rationally, considering which records they wouldn’t tire of on a desert island. I tried my hand at this selection process with both angles in mind.

1) “Piano Man,” by Billy Joel

Now Paul is a real estate novelist / Who never had time for a wife / And he’s talkin’ with Davy, who’s still in the Navy / And probably will be for life

If you were born and raised on Long Island in the last 50 years, a love for Billy Joel and this particular song runs through your blood from the very second of your first breath. He’s our local bard, our very own William Shakespeare of music. This is the song that was there before my memories even formed — I don’t remember a time when I didn’t know it. Its lyrics ache with lost potential, pessimistic optimism, and the sad comfort of an often pathetic routine.

Continue reading

West End Wendy: London Theater Experiences

I’d gladly classify myself as a bit of a theater geek, so I snatched up the chance to see as much theater as possible when I studied in London last fall. In addition to seeing three musicals in my free time, I took a Shakespeare class, which included seeing three plays performed at three different London theaters.

When comparing Broadway and the West End, my winner when it comes to experience would lean towards New York, because I just think it’s on a much grander and faster scale than London. You just can’t get more theater than seeing something on Broadway.

I found London’s theater district more low-key than its American equivalent, which was a common description of London life in my experience.  The people I’ve met who do find London overwhelming usually come from smaller towns or cities further away from Manhattan – meanwhile, New York City is what I grew up with, and London almost felt peaceful to me after knowing New York so well. When I was there, a lot of West End shows had Broadway duplicates, so there wasn’t much I had to see because of availability – all of the musicals I ended up seeing were also on Broadway at the time.

Continue reading