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Desert Island Discs: From U2 to Tchaikovsky... how we'd survive being cast away


Famous Northern Ireland faces have been telling us what songs they would choose if cast away

Famous Northern Ireland faces have been telling us what songs they would choose if cast away

Getty Images/iStockphoto

Lynette Faye

Lynette Faye

Alastair Seeley

Alastair Seeley

Dr Samina Dornan

Dr Samina Dornan

David Jeffrey

David Jeffrey

Famous Northern Ireland faces have been telling us what songs they would choose if cast away

For 75 years this weekend, guests on BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs have been picking eight records and one book other than the Bible to take on their solitary retreat. We asked four well-known NI personalities to choose theirs - with some fascinating results.

Lynette Fay (39) presents three popular shows on BBC Radio Ulster - the Folk Club with Lynette Fay, The Lynette Fay Show and Blas Ceoil. From Dungannon originally, Lynette is single and spends most of her time between her programmes going to concerts and festivals. A fluent Gaelic speaker, she is a strong supporter of the preservation of the language in Ulster

Track 1 - U2: ­­Where The Streets Have No Name

Preferably the live version from Rattle & Hum. It's one of the highlights of the U2 live experience; the storytelling and the build-up. It's one of the most amazing things to have that individual feeling welling up in you and to look around and see all these people feeling exactly the same. I had that experience when I saw U2 in Slane in 1993.

I've managed to get tickets to see them both in Dublin and in London, on the Joshua Tree anniversary tour. I don't agree with everything Bono says, but they believed in themselves and they paved the way for so many bands. Some of the lyrics they came up with in their mid-20s, like With Or Without You, are phenomenal.

Track 2 - Nina Simone: I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free

The piano riff's well-known as the theme track from Barry Norman's former film review series. Nina Simone broke the mould. She was so talented and she had her demons.

She spoke her mind. That song encapsulates the importance of freedom of expression. People find strength in music, especially these days, and there's more expressive music arising among all the vanilla now. Stronger messages are coming through. For me, it can't be false.

Track 3 - Hothouse Flowers: I Can See Clearly Now

It's a cover (of a Johnny Nash single from 1972), but I love their version of this song - it's 25 years old now. I put it on when I'm in a bad mood, or feeling low, or need to get something out of my system. It's five minutes of therapy. The band recorded it at the height of their powers in the early-Nineties. Liam O Maonlai starts off slowly on the piano, then it builds up and he goes mad. I've got to know them very well recently - my 14-year-old self wouldn't believe it.

Track 4 - Clannad: Coinleach Ghlas An Fhomhair

I fell in love with the Irish language through this song - the title refers to the green stubble of the fields of autumn.

When I was 12, we learned Irish through song lyrics with no musical accompaniment and, when I heard this song properly for the first time, I couldn't believe it. It made me fall in love with the language even more.

Track 5 - Bruce Springsteen: The Rising

He wrote this about the 9/11 attacks, but, like Born In The USA, it wasn't to encourage people to retaliate. It's about taking pride. Bruce always has something to say and he's not afraid to say it.

I'm so envious of anyone who saw him in Slane in 1985. I saw him in Croke Park - he really engaged with the audience and he seems to love every minute playing with his band. For a man in his late-60s to perform like that for three hours, it's incredible.

Track 6 - Karan Casey: The Creggan White Hare

This is a traditional song about Tyrone and sportsmen and this mystical creature that was chased by greyhounds. There's such a great sense of place in the song and a celebration of the people. I just love Karan's version.

Track 7 - The 4 Of Us: Pure Release

Pure Release is one of my go-to songs in the car, preferably full-blast with the windows down. It's so feelgood. I love Washington Down, She Hits Me, Drag My Bad Name Down, and Sunlight, too, but this is one of my favourites. I went to see Brendan and Declan Murphy from The 4 Of Us in the Lyric Theatre - they blew me away. The imagery in Brendan's lyrics in their new album, Sugar Island, is so evocative. And is there anything Declan can't play on the guitar? He's something to behold.

Track 8 - Lumiere: Fair And Tender Ladies

This is a reworking of the old song, Come All Ye Maidens Young and Fair. It's by two girls from Dingle, Eilis Kennedy and Pauline Scanlon, who aren't afraid to speak their minds. It's powerfully sung by someone who has been wounded in the past. I'd have appreciated that advice when I was 15 - in fact, I think all 15-year-old girls should be forced to sit down and listen to it.

And favourite book... Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

I'm not a booky person - I tend to stick to autobiographies, but I've always loved Jane Eyre. She was a strong woman of integrity who didn't walk away from a difficult situation. I've a lot of respect for heroines with that quality. It's a great love story, too. I'm an old romantic. The way she stood by Mr Rochester... and it has a happy ending.

David Jeffrey (54) is one of Irish League football's most successful managers. Appointed Linfield boss in 1997, he remained in the Windsor Park hot seat for more than 17 years and guided the club to 31 trophies. After leaving the Blues at the end of the 2013-2014 season, he took a break from the game, but in March last year he agreed to become Ballymena Utd manager and he hopes to get his hands on silverware again when the Sky Blues face Carrick Rangers in the NI League Cup Final at Seaview on Saturday, February 18. The former Linfield player, captain and manager is one of the game's most respected characters

Track 1 - Bruce Springsteen: Born To Run

I'm a huge fan of 'The Boss' and this is such a classic, iconic song and you just have to listen to the words to appreciate its message. When I was a youngster, my mother always said I was running everywhere, running to school, or training. Maybe I was Born to Run.

Track 2 — Van Morrison and Cliff Richard: Whenever God Shines His Light

This is a fantastic duet. The message is also a very moving one and it’s a song with a great depth of meaning. I love listening to it and it’s a beautifully written song by Van.

Track 3 — Abide with Me

This Christian hymn, by Scottish Anglican Henry Francis Lyte, is one of my favourite hymns. It is a hymn which has a comforting emotional intimacy. It was also hugely popular in the trenches of the First World War and was sung by Nurse Edith Cavell the night before the Germans shot her for helping British soldiers to escape from occupied Belgium.

Track 4 — Amazing Grace

This is a traditional, classic hymn with lovely lyrics. It’s one of the most-loved spiritual songs ever written, penned by Englishman John Newton. ‘Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound/That saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now am found Was blind, but now I see’. People who know me know I have a strong faith.

Track 5 — Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony

It has been described as the greatest piece of music ever written. I wouldn’t describe myself as being a huge fan of classical music, but I enjoyed playing the flute at school and I achieved grade eight. In fact, when I joined Manchester United as a young player, the club bought me a flute, so I could continue my tuition. You don’t get stuff like that in today’s contracts.

Track 6 — Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture

Another great classical piece from this Russian composer to commemorate Russia’s defence of its motherland against Napoleon’s invading “Grande Armee” in 1812. You’ll hear it at fireworks displays and outdoor concerts. People say it’s the hit that Tchaikovsky hated.

Track 7 — Robbie Williams: Rock DJ

When I was Linfield manager, I got a bit excited after we won the Irish Cup in 2007. Without any planning, I launched into Robbie’s (right) Rock DJ dance to celebrate our win over Dungannon Swifts in front of the fans. Of course, I’m 54 now and can chuckle at myself when I watch the footage on YouTube, but it was a special moment and it felt right at the time.

Track 8 — Moore Street

I’m a member of the Orange Order and this song, which is a great marching tune, has been passed down through the generations in my family. My great-grandfather started our family band and the tradition has filtered down. Moore Street is a favourite song and one we play with great pride on July 12.

And favourite book...

The Irish on the Somme by Steven Moore

I love reading about the First World War and the Battle of the Somme. I’m fascinated by the stories surrounding Irishmen who fought in the wars. It’s a period of our history I have great interest in. I have huge admiration for their contribution and sacrifice and, for me, it’s a perfect example of how there is so much more that should unite us, rather than divide us. Your Irishness does not dilute your Britishness and vice versa. There was a real togetherness and unity with the men who fought in the wars and we can learn lessons from that.

Carrickfergus motorcycle ace Alastair Seeley (37) is the stand-alone record-holder at the Vauxhall International North West 200. During his career, he has recorded 17 wins around the iconic Portstewart-Coleraine-Portrush triangle, as well as two British championship titles, so motivational music, as you would expect, is high up on his playlist. About to become a father for the second time, Alastair has included a song that reminds him of his fiancee, Dannielle, who he met five years ago.

Track 1 — Faithless: Music Matters

I have a lot of bass-heavy dance tunes on my playlist and this is my favourite, as it gets me revved up before I go racing. It’s an older track and I remember it from my days going clubbing in Banbridge. I heard it one New Year’s Eve, so it’s been a favourite “walk out” track to the grid ever since.

Track 2 — Kenny Loggins: Danger Zone (Top Gun soundtrack)

It’s my favourite film. Every time I watch it, I want to be a fighter pilot. All the old stuff is the best and I think anyone involved in racing loves Top Gun. There are a few songs on that soundtrack that I like. I love to put my Beats headphones on and listening to this track cancels the whole world out as I walk to the start line at the NW200. Works well.

Track 3 — Michael Jackson: Beat It

The year I went head-to-head with Steve Brogan for the British Superstock title, this was the song that got me in the mood for racing and up for a fight on track. I love the way it’s up-tempo and the way the beat comes in; it really fires up the heart-rate. Perfect for going racing and into battle. I was so dominant that year, so old MJ must have got me fired up and made me pretty much unbeatable.

Track 4 — Sigma and Paloma Faith: Changing

It was played at the North West 200 during a Press launch at the Titanic building in 2015. There was an edit showing some race action and bits of me on track winning races, so it stuck in my head. It reminds me so much of the North West and it’s a great tune, so again it gets me fired up.

Track 5 — Rudimental: Not Giving In

I was asked last year in British Superbike magazine to pick out a favourite tune for the qualifying session. That stuck out in my mind, as it was a tough season and, for me, “not giving in” were perfect words; they inspired me simply not to give in and lie down in the tough season I was having.

Track 6 — Naughty Boy & Emeli Sande: Lifted

I use this more for training in the build-up to a weekend of racing. If I needed to really put myself through my paces and push beyond the limit, then this track is the one that can make me do that. It’s another NW 200 track, used on one of their edits. I have good memories with this tune.

Track 7 — Ludovico Einaudi: Nuvole Bianche

This is more Dannielle’s sort of music. It’s an instrumental track and very relaxing. I wouldn’t listen to this going racing, or I’d be back row of the grid. It’s one we would chill out to and helps me take my mind off racing and training, which you need from time to time. If you like the piano, you will enjoy this track.

Track 8 — Train: Drive By

This was in the charts around the time when Danni and I got together. Everyone has “our song” and this is the one we call ours. When it came on, we were always sitting singing it to each other like love birds and my son, Lewis, also knows the words, so it’s a bit of a special tune for me — although this new baby was conceived to the Isle of Man TT fanfare music, but that’s another story.

And favourite book...

Steve Hislop’s autobiography, Hizzy

Steve was an inspiration, not just to me, but the majority of racers. He was the main man in British Superbike and also at the TT and he inspired me to be dedicated and strive for success. He was as good as anyone at the TT and a special talent. I don’t read a lot of books, but I couldn’t put this one down.

Dr Samina Dornan is a consultant sub-specialist in maternal foetal medicine, based in the regional unit at the Royal Maternity Hospital, Belfast. Born in Pakistan in the late-1960s, she lives in Crawfordsburn with her husband, Dr Jim Dornan, father of actor Jamie Dornan

Track 1 — Fields of Athenry

I have loved this song all my life, believe it or not. People think of it as an Irish song, from one side, but I think it relates to anywhere in the world where there is turmoil and migration. Every immigrant has a story to tell, usually a painful one. Otherwise, why would they leave? I do think this song can apply to any situation that involves a painful journey.

Track 2 — Elvis Presley: Blue Suede Shoes

If I’m feeling lonely, I have a one-person party with this song. It’s my favourite rockabilly record, especially the Elvis version. It puts me in a good mood.

Track 3 — Danny Boy

This song can make me cry, every time. It has such resonance for the mothers of young men and women going off to war all over the world, maybe not because they believed in the cause, but they did it for their country. In that respect, it’s an international song.

Track 4 — Ave Maria

I am not religious, but I love Christian music and chanting; the meditative qualities. Ave Maria is my favourite hymn. It just cuts through your heart, no matter who sings it. I love the Schubert arrangement.

Track 5 — You Raise Me Up

When I heard Peter Corry sing this at George Best’s funeral, it made me cry. Just beautiful. He said on the radio that, when he was singing it, he felt like he was floating above the congregation, looking down. I believe him, that he was transported to a different level. It’s a phenomenal song.

Tracks 6 and 7 — Andrea Bocelli: Time To Say Goodbye and Nessun Dorma

Opera music is too difficult for me, but I love the arias sung by Andrea Bocelli and I love the version of Time To Say Goodbye from his live show in Italy in 2007. That was a magnificent concert. I think he sang it also with Celine Dion. He has an absolutely beautiful voice. It transports me to another level.

Track 8 — Miles Davis: So What

I love jazz music. It’s so soft and sexy. I can listen to it for hours without tiring of it. I’m learning to play the saxophone. It’s about the movement of the lips and tongue, more so than the breath. I always wanted to learn, but never had the time, so I promised myself I would before I die.

And favourite book ...

Brick Lane by Monica Ali

This is such a wonderful book about the experience of young Asian women being married off to older men in England and the synchronisation of cultures. You go through this journey with the narrator every step of the way. I bought the novel when it came out and it was the Book of the Year. It gives a voice to women who are silent. I’d really recommend it.

Belfast Telegraph