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Jukebox heroes: One last special song, one last time

By Kerry McKittrick

What if you were told that you could only hear one more song, replay that one special tune - what would it be?

Would it be the first song you danced to at your wedding, or the lullaby you crooned to your babies to send them to sleep?

Perhaps you would choose the first single you ever bought, which has become an anthem for the important stages of your life. Or maybe you'd opt for the record your parents danced to together in the living room when you were a child.

For most of us, songs can evoke powerful memories from different times in our lives. And most of us have that one noteworthy song that strikes a chord.

We asks 12 local celebrities what they would choose if they could hear one last song, one last time.

Lynda Bryans (52) is married to former broadcaster and UUP leader Mike Nesbitt. After a successful career in TV, Lynda balances running media production company Take I Take II with her husband, lecturing at the Belfast Metropolitan College and being mum to PJ (20) and Christopher (18). She says:

"My son Christopher is a brilliant guitarist and he has one trademark song called Bistro Fada. It's a piece of gypsy jazz by Stephane Wrembel.

Christopher is doing his grade eight guitar and he's really worked hard at this song to make it his own.

He plays that particular song particularly well and he even won the school talent competition with it.

There are others that mean different things. Songs that remind you of particular places and times, but if I had to only hear one song again I would die peacefully listening to that."

Actress Caroline Curran (30) lives in Belfast with her fiance Christopher and is preparing to star in her new show, Crazy, at the Mac Theatre in Belfast. She says:

"For me it's Neil Diamond's Sweet Caroline. I wasn't named after it, so I'm told, but on every birthday or special occasion my mother or father sing it to me.

It means the song has great memories attached to it because I always hear it on happy days.

As soon as that song comes on everyone looks at me and I just wave.

You might think I'd be sick of it by now but I'm not. I love it."

Marcus Hunter-Neill (32) is a radio presenter and drag artist from Bangor. He says:

"It's hard to choose because I have five or six favourite so

One would be Last Time I Saw Him by Diana Ross.

My mum always had Liza Minnelli, Diana Ross, Abba or Carly Simon playing in the car and we would sing along to them.

So for me it's a toss-up between Diana Ross and Carly Simon's You're So Vain. I'll go with Diana Ross though because the first ever Mother's Day show I did in drag, I sang Last Time I Saw Him.

We later went to see Diana Ross in concert and I dressed up as her."

Dick Strawbridge (55) is a TV presenter and historian originally from Bangor. He now lives in Southend with his partner Angela and is father to James (30), Charlotte (28), Arthur (2). He says:

"This isn't difficult for me - the song I'd pick is You're Getting To Be A Habit With Me by Doris Day. It's our song and has been for a very long time with the love of my life, Angela."

Brenda Shankey (43), runs Jason Shankey Male Grooming with her husband Jason and lives in Belfast with their children Lauren (14) and Will (12). She says:

"The first song that comes into my head is Happy, the huge hit by Pharrell Williams. It makes me smile and think of sunshine every time I hear it."

Singer Niamh Kavanagh (47) won the Eurovision Song Contest in 1993. She now lives in Carrickfergus with her husband Paul Megahy and their sons Tom (11) and Jack (13). She says:

"It's a big question for me and it would depend on what I wanted to feel like at the time.

Part of me would choose I Can't Make You Love Me by Bonnie Raitt because it's the song I love more than anything in the world, but it doesn't have any specific meaning for me.

The first song at our wedding was Easy Feeling by The Eagles. We had equipment set up so whoever was there could get up and play. We'd actually forgotten about the first dance so that one just happened to be the first one that was played.

My final song though will be Walking My Baby Back Home by James Taylor because when Paul and I got married, that's what we walked out to."

Harry Hamilton (49) is part of Queen tribute band Flash Harry and lives in Lurgan with his wife Heather and their daughters Brooke (18), Lucy (17) and Tianna (13). He says:

"The first song to spring to my mind is Queen's Somebody To Love just because of the associations it has for me.

I've shared so many good times with so many people to that song. My friends and I used to sing that when we were underage and hanging out in parks, drinking cheap wine. I also love singing it - particularly the high falsetto bit in the middle, as it gives me a chance to show off!"

Paula McIntyre (48) is a food writer and broadcaster and lives in Portstewart. She says:

"It would have to be a James Taylor song as I'm a huge fan of his. One of my favourite Taylor tracks is My Travelling Star.

I'm really scared of flying, but that song helps keep my nerves down a bit so I play it when the plane is taking off.

I hate flying so much that sometimes I think that song really is going to be the last song I hear."

John Bennett (72) lives in Belfast with his wife Joan and they have two grown-up children. John presents the Sunday Club each Sunday evening on BBC Radio Ulster. He says:

"My song is Hello Mary Lou sung by Ricky Nelson and when I was a teenager it was the first song I ever mastered three chords for.

It has a wonderful guitar solo in the middle and I tried to copy every note of it. I thought it was brilliant and when I woke up the next day I was ready to be a rock star.That's where it all began, that was my introduction to pop music.

I still play that on the Sunday Club and it's got a wonderful rhythm and beat to it."

Rebekah Shirley (19, right), from Ballymoney, is the current Miss Northern Ireland. She says:

"My choice of song would have to be The Script's Breakeven.

They're my favourite band and when that song came out I loved it, even though it's quite a sad song.

I've always found it very soothing and I've seen them perform it live two or three times and it's even better then."

Gareth Stewart (34) presents the afternoon show on Cool FM each weekday. He lives in Bangor and has twin sons Cody and Charlie (3). He says:

"I'm choosing Stereophonics' Maybe Tomorrow. It doesn't have any particular meaning to me but I've always been a big fan of the band and I love that song.

Stereophonics are playing at Belsonic this year and I'm really looking forward to seeing them play live again."

Sarah Travers (40) is a freelance broadcaster and lives in Portstewart with her husband Stephen Price and their children Jack (17) and Evie (11). She says:

"I thought of lots of sad songs for this, but I've settled on Hotel California by The Eagles.

It's a song that really makes me smile because I remember listening to it when I was just 15 on a French exchange trip with my school.

If it was going to be the last thing I was going to hear, I would love it to bring me back to that time when we thought we were so hip and cool, drinking very strong coffee in cafes.

It was a time when the world was just opening up to us and there were lots of exciting opportunities lying ahead."

Rolling Stone magazine's Top 10 best songs

1 Like A Rolling Stone,  Bob Dylan (1965)

2. (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction, The Rolling Stones (1965)

3. Imagine, John Lennon (1971)

4. What's Going On, Marvin Gaye (1971)

5. Respect, Aretha Franklin (above) (1967)

6. Good Vibrations, The Beach Boys (1966)

7. Johnny B Goode, Chuck Berry (1958)

8. Hey Jude, The Beatles (1968)

9. Smells Like Teen Spirit, Nirvana (1991)

10. What'd I Say, Ray Charles (1959)

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