Benjamin Zephaniah’s Desert Island Soundtrack


(Image from Telegraph, 2012)

In this new segment for IKB insider, we thought it would be interesting to take the BBC’s legendary Desert Island Disc’s premise and bring it to Brunel University.

Exploring the musical palates of some prominent figures on campus, we ask only for 5 songs they would choose to accompany them if stranded on a deserted island.

For our first feature, Benjamin Zephaniah. A renowned poet, author, playwright, actor and musician. His Dub Poetry, spanning four decades, helped reap in countless accolades including The Times naming him as one of the Top 50 post-war poets in 2008, before he became a Professor of Poetry and Creative Writing at Brunel University.

Benjamin Zephaniah has been on BBC Radio Four’s Desert Island Discs once before. He told IKB “I picked a completely different lot of songs. But that's how I was feeling then, this is how I am feeling now.”

So, without further delay, here are Benjamin’s top 5 songs for IKB Insider’s Desert Island Discs.

Close To Me - The Cure (1985)

“This is just a great tune. If any trainee music producers want to hear a great example of a well-balanced, beautifully sonic rock tune, listen to this. There are a couple of points in this song when there seems to be about ten saxophones going, which could really go wrong, but it's so right.”

I Fink U Freeky - Die Antwoord (2012)

“I love this band. Or should I say I love these two. White South Africans, who don't give a damn. They are freaky, sometimes it's about shocking people, but people need to be shocked sometimes. I've met a few people in my time who I want to approach and say to them, 'I fink u freeky and I like you a lot', but I always end up saying something like, 'You look interesting.' or 'Do you come here often?'.”

The Way You Move - Outkast (2003)

“Just a great sexy, soulful tune. It does nothing emotional for me, the lyrics don't say much, but it just makes me move. The video's is 50/50 sexist/cheesy, but blast this tune out of your car, or your bedroom, and you won't need the visuals.”

Big Yellow Taxi - Joni Mitchell (1970)

“A wonderful example of great song writing. A song that doesn't need lots of instruments to make it live. Environmentalism, before it was a big issue, and an amazing voice. When I first heard it, I wondered what she was going on about, then I read the lyrics and went 'Wow'. Think about it. In 1970 she wrote this, and it's true. They paved paradise, and put up a parking lot. That's what they're doing now. This green and pleasant land is becoming a place for cars to move, a place for cars to park, with some houses in between. I say that as someone who drives. I just think we've gone too far, and Joni Mitchell saw it coming.”

In This World - Benjamin Zephaniah (2017)

“Yes, I know. This is me, and it's not really cool to pick your own tune, but I need to. People do seem to be getting political again, but there's still not a lot of political music. I wrote this to remind people of the state of the world right now. In various parts of the world women are still dying in childbirth, millions of girls just disappear, many countries are occupied by foreign 'powers', millions of girls are forced into marriage before the age of 18, and millions of people have to walk miles to get water every day. This tune is seven minutes long, but it needed to be. There's so much to say. Nuff said.”

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