Kirsty Young picks her Desert Island Discs

On Sunday, Desert Island Discs celebrates its 75th anniversary. We asked the current host which tracks she would choose if she were cast away now

Dougie Maclean – Caledonia

As a teenager, just after my friend Gil and I learned to drive, we went to a little gig late one night in a tiny pub in Perthshire. Gil was a folkie. I wasn’t, at all. This guy was playing, and I didn’t know then that he was well-known, but the moment I heard him, I knew he was brilliant. I’ve lived in the south now for 20 years. I’m married to an Englishman and my daughters speak with English accents ... I love so much about England. But this song for me exquisitely captures the sensation of having Scotland in your soul and only ever feeling truly complete when you are there. That’s how I feel.

Van Morrison – Coney Island

Because it’s poetry, basically. And also it makes me smile that he is so truly brilliant a lyricist that he can sing about pickled herrings and make even that sound beautiful. And I love pickled herrings. One of my favourite memories from childhood is from when I must have been very small. I was alone with my mother in the house. It was dusk and I asked her what the wonderful smell was coming from the kitchen, and she said she was making potted herring.

Neil Diamond – I Am, I Said

Neil Diamond playing at the SECC in Glasgow in 2002.
Neil Diamond playing at the SECC in Glasgow in 2002. Photograph: Graham Knowles/Redferns

My mum and dad played this album a lot when I was growing up. I remember looking at Neil Diamond on the cover; he had bare feet and seemed kind of exotic. I remember my mum listening to that and wearing Chanel – the perfume, not the clothes.

Andy Williams – Can’t Take My Eyes Off You

This is the song I danced to the first night I met Nick (Jones, her husband).

Nina Simone – My Baby Just Cares for Me

Nina Simone at BBC TV Centre in 1966
Nina Simone at BBC TV Centre in 1966 Photograph: David Redfern/REDFERNS

Because I simply couldn’t live without her voice.

The opening movement of Bach’s Cello Suites

Probably by the castaway Steven Isserlis, who is a brilliant cellist. I go back to it again and again.

Dawn Upshaw and the London Sinfonietta – Górecki’s Symphony No 3 Lento e Largo – Tranquillissimo

But it is very sad. So, I’m not sure about it.

David Bowie – Rock’n’Roll Suicide

I’m taking Bowie instead of Joni Mitchell, because I can do very, very bad impersonations of Blue, so I could probably sing that myself.

Desert Island Discs celebrates its 75th anniversary on BBC Radio 4 with castaway David Beckham on 29 January.

Kirsty Young

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Kirsty Young to take Desert Island Discs break because of illness
Lauren Laverne will cover BBC Radio 4 show while host is away due to fibromyalgia

Nadia Khomami

30, Aug, 2018 @10:51 AM

Article image
Former Desert Island Discs host Kirsty Young to return as Christmas guest
Long-time presenter will share her thoughts on the Queen’s funeral in BBC festive schedule highlight

Vanessa Thorpe

26, Nov, 2022 @6:01 PM

Article image
‘Losing sense of self’: Kirsty Young opens up about illness on Desert Island Discs
Former presenter tells current host Lauren Laverne of pain of stepping back from career due to chronic conditions

Sophie Zeldin-O'Neill

25, Dec, 2022 @6:00 AM

Article image
Desert Island Discs with Steve McQueen review – triumph of the dyslexic kid
Nosheen Iqbal: Steve McQueen has made some astonishing art and films, and they are expertly unpicked in Kirsty Young’s fascinating interview

Nosheen Iqbal

25, Sep, 2014 @4:05 PM

Article image
Now that's what I call Desert Island Discs!
Nearly 69 years' worth of episodes are now available online. So what themes run through the selections?

Johnny Sharp

02, Mar, 2011 @8:00 PM

Article image
A week in radio: Dustin Hoffman on Desert Island Discs
The music choices became sidenotes as the Hollywood star struck up an affable rapport with Kirsty Young, writes Nosheen Iqbal

Nosheen Iqbal

06, Dec, 2012 @8:00 PM

Article image
Symphonies in sea – 75 years of Desert Island Discs
What makes Desert Island Discs so intimate? As the programme celebrates 75 years on air, it’s the music that continues to crack open its castaways

Zoe Williams

28, Dec, 2016 @9:00 AM

Article image
Roll over Beethoven: Desert Island Discs stars pick pop over classical
Varying background of modern castaways means Radio 4 show features more diverse range of cultures and musical choices

Nadia Khomami

24, Jan, 2017 @12:01 AM

Article image
Michelle Obama or Bob Dylan? Readers suggest castaways for Desert Island Discs
As the show celebrates 75 years on the airwaves, we asked readers who they would like to see in the hotseat

Guardian readers and Matthew Holmes

28, Jan, 2017 @9:00 AM

Article image
Aung San Suu Kyi to reveal her Desert Island Discs
Face of Burma's democratic opposition records edition of BBC Radio 4 castaway music show

John Plunkett

22, Jan, 2013 @12:01 AM