JaniaJania’s Desert Island Discs

Taking a somewhat different approach to this Desert Island Disc challenge presented by my blog-mates. Conventionally, Desert Island Discs are those must-have pieces of music that would sustain you on a desert island. It’s music that you could listen to over and over again while you wait to be rescued. And it’s music that would give you hope that you would be rescued. But that music, for me, isn’t music that would necessarily be connected to Damian Lewis in my mind. So, rather than Desert Island Discs, my list is going to be a mixtape of music that reminds me of Damian Lewis specifically. It’s music that makes me think about characters he’s played and of him as a person too. As it turns out, it’s also music that I could listen to all the time. Some is sad, some is happy. Some is peaceful, some is angry. All the ways I like my art. This list is not just my personal list, but includes a lot of the best music ever made as determined by a lot of lists. One’s mind resists going anywhere less than the best when thinking of Damian Lewis.

So, let’s get to it:

1) Pale Blue Eyes – Hole: This song was originally written and performed by Velvet Underground. It’s this cover by Courtney Love/Hole that goes deeper and becomes personal. Courtney Love performed this after Kurt Cobain’s death and it’s clearly very special for her. For me, this song is more about Carrie Mathison than Brody. It embodies what Carrie felt for Brody and what she still feels and will always feel. As I said in my very first post, I wouldn’t be here, a rabid fan of this famous (but not terribly so) London actor, writing about him every week, following his career like a hawk, if not for the way Carrie looked at Brody, and, then, for the way Damian Lewis as Brody demanded our attention every moment he was on screen. This song covers the sadness and anger too, as well as the tragedy, which, as I’ve said before, is the truest art there is. As he will for Carrie, Brody, for a lot of us, will always Linger On.

“It was good what we did yesterday
You know I’d do it again
The fact that you’re insane
Only proves that you’re my best friend”

2) Heroes – David Bowie: Was heading into work recently and this came on the radio. Since I knew I’d lose the signal when I went into the parking garage, I pulled over to the side of the road just so I could hear the end of the song. Not many songs elicit that urgent necessity of stopping everything just to listen. It’s a grand sweeping epic piece of music that expands up and up in energy. Bowie’s voice is just perfectly Bowie and the words: so full of possibility, just perfect. Again, you can hear Carrie and Brody in every lyric.

“I, I can remember (I remember)
Standing, by the wall (by the wall)
And the guns, shot above our heads (over our heads)
And we kissed, as though nothing could fall (nothing could fall)
And the shame, was on the other side
Oh we can beat them, for ever and ever
Then we could be heroes, just for one day”

3) Black Bird – Beatles: Oy, this is becoming less a Damian Lewis mix tape and more of a Brody one with each pick! This is a sweet dark-ish song from the Beatles’ White Album. Cheerful melody and great dark lyrics, real and human. Now, I know and love the Beatles just as much as the next person alive in the 20th century person. Yet, the first time I heard this song was on the TV show ER. A drug addict was giving birth and she demanded this song be played as her baby entered the world. Loved the idea of something pretty and hopeful coming out of darkness to usher new life or a rebirth into the world. This song, in all its simplicity, does embody that very kind of rebirth.

4) Waiting on a Friend – Rolling Stones: Not the very best of the Stones. Mic Jagger’s voice has been a lot more pure in other songs, but the melody and lyrics of this one have stuck with me a really really long time. It came out in 1982 when I was in junior high, hormones running high all around me, boys and girls coupling up, going steady, school dances. And even then, in my emo middle school loneliness, something about that entire picture of homecoming queens and jocks pairing off didn’t quite fit my reality. But the words to this song did.

Remember in Q & A when Carrie says “I’m just happy to be talking to you again.” Makes one think: We build connections with people all our lives and sometimes, especially when we’re younger and don’t know any better, those connections go Poof, and this person who we’ve shared deeply personal things with falls off our radar and we don’t even talk to them anymore. The transformation happens so often when we’re young, when we think, no worries, there’ll be plenty of people like that in my life, people I can talk to like that. Only later do we realize, nope, there aren’t that many people in life we are willing to or desire to talk to like that. Carrie and Brody did not have an innocent youthful relationship, they barely had any relationship at all in any conventional sense,  but they did have an ease between them, an ease that was strong and real enough to shut out the world temporarily. It reached an apex in The Weekend and then went to crap very rapidly. Vast boulder- sized obstacles came in their way and Poof went the possibility of ever having an honest dialogue. And, finally, when they are alone together again, Carrie only gets to talk to him for real when she’s interrogating him. Messed up, no? Yes! If only had the circumstances been “wildly different”…

“Don’t need a whore
Don’t need no booze
Don’t need a virgin priest
But I need some one I can cry to
I need someone to protect”

5) Over the Love – Florence and the Machine: Another song that fits Carrie and Brody perfectly. LilMisfit made a mvid to it, which I urge you to seek out. (not linking it here b/c I don’t want to it disappear like YT vids sometimes do when linked) This song was written for the soundtrack to The Great Gatsby, and the green light in Gatsby symbolized possibility, that dream we all want to reach and never do, the perpetually deferred American dream. Of course, for Carrie the green light becomes Brody.

“You’re a hard soul to save
With an ocean in the way
But I’ll get around it”

6) Ball and a Biscuit – White Stripes: Raunchy licks from a guitar that in the hands of Jack White seems to speak lyrics all its own. Sexy as hell. About a guy and a girl doing what a guy and girl will do, and the guy boasting his strength and letting the girl know he’ll tell her all about it before she goes. It’s fun and hot. Um, kind of like that guy up there in the header to this blog.

“Let’s have a ball and a biscuit, sugar
And take our sweet little time about it
Let’s have a ball, girl
Take our sweet little time about it
Tell everybody in the place to just get out
We’ll get clean together
And I’ll find me a soapbox
Where I can shout it”

7) Belle (Little Town) – Beauty and the Beast: My favorite song among many great songs on my favorite Disney score. I like to drive my daughter crazy singing this song at the top of my lungs. It’s about a small town girl who loves nothing more than books. Such a catchy tune and rising crescendo. What does this have to do with Damian Lewis, you ask? Well, it’s about a girl’s love for stories and storytellers. And these days, on this blog, the master storyteller inspiring all of us is Damian Lewis. Providing his interpretation of the stories that transport us momentarily out of our provincial lives.

“Oh, isn’t this amazing
It’s my favorite part, because you see
Here’s where she meets Prince Charming
But she won’t discover that it’s him
Till Chapter Three”

8) Sketches in Spain – Miles Davis: Got this album as a fund drive bonus from an LA public radio station I loved in the early 90’s. Sad to say I lost the CD in my many moves since then, but the music made a permanent place for itself in my psyche. Always loved the emotion one can evoke out of a brass instrument, and no one evoked as much emotion out of the trumpet as Miles Davis. This album is very cinematic too so it’s a great backdrop for most anything Damian Lewis has done. A decade or several off here and there, but imagine, if you will, Charles Doughty-Wylie, straw hat and cane, white linen suit, walking through the desert with this playing, or Paul Reynolds in a billowy white shirt traipsing thru the hillocks of his expansive estate, or William Keane stumbling madly through crowded streets, or Brody trying on a vest.

Luxury Item: Toothbrush –Just about the only luxury thing you really need anywhere there’s water I’d say.

Character: Brody — Depressing company I know. See, on this desert island, I’m not really counting on a rescue. So who else but Brody could I possibly consider spending my last days with?

When he starts to stare off into the distance and wonder about the wife and kids he left behind, in my quest to turn his frown upside down, I can prance around and sing “There must be more than this provincial life!” When he can’t sleep because of the nightmares, we’ll listen to Black Bird. We can stare out at the ocean with Waiting on a Friend playing and work the land to grow stuff or whatever else you can do with land on a deserted island with Ball and a BiscuitSketches in Spain, and Heroes driving the toil. When he wants to go off and be alone and catatonic for a while, I can listen to Over the Love and Pale Blue Eyes.

Book: Collected Works of Shakespeare – I’m not counting on a rescue, but I am counting a good long time spent on this island. We’ll need something that sustains us till the very end. Brody and I can act out the plays to pass the time. He can read his parts in his perfectly natural American English, with maybe a fake English accent thrown in for kicks. 🙂

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