Football superstar, former England captain, and global icon David Beckham has picked his favourite eight songs for British radio show ‘Desert Island Discs’ and there were a few surprises along the way, not the least of which was a distinct lack of Spice Girls.
‘Desert Island Discs’ is something of an institution in the UK, the show airing on BBC radio since 1942. The idea is that the host casts guests away on an imaginary desert island, with only eight songs, a book, and a luxury item for company; the discussion of each choice offering an insight into said guest’s life.
From politicians and musicians to scientists and sports stars, the list of those who have appeared is as long as it is distinguished, with recent guests including Bruce Springsteen, Dustin Hoffman, Bradley Wiggins, Morrissey, David Attenborough, Bill Gates, Paul Weller and Tom Hanks.
For the show’s 75th anniversary they got one of their biggest in the shape of Beckham, who discussed the fall-out from that red card against Argentina, his love of Manchester United and wife Victoria, and some poor fashion choices in the past.
Beckham’s choices are listed below, while the full show can be heard on the BBC iPlayer or via the ‘Desert Island Discs’ podcast.
‘Every Time We Say Goodbye’ – Ella Fitzgerald
The Song: A stunning recording of Cole Porter’s jazz classic, the song first appeared on ‘Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Cole Porter Song Book’ in 1956, and is considered the definitive version.
The Reason: It was playing every Saturday morning when David visited his grandparents, reminding Beckham of when his grandad used to kick him out of his comfy chair.
‘What a Fool Believes’ – The Doobie Brothers with Michael McDonald
The Song: Written by McDonald and Kenny Loggins, the Doobie Brothers version – featuring McDonald on lead vocals – topped the US charts in 1979, while the soulful number also won the ‘Song of the Year’ Grammy.
The Reason: Reminds David of driving to the Bobby Charlton Soccer School and stopping for gammon, egg and chips at Little Chef.
‘I Am the Resurrection’ – The Stone Roses
The Song: The ultimate indie anthem, ‘I Am the Resurrection’ was the last track on The Stone Roses’ era-defining first album. The song is more than eight-minutes long, the final four of those instrumental.
The Reason: Takes David back to Manchester in the 1990s. He says it reminds him of the Hacienda, though Beckham then admits to probably only visiting the super-club once.
‘Something About the Way You Look Tonight’ – Elton John
The Song: Released in 1997, this was the first cut from Elton John’s ‘The Big Picture’ album, with both the song and video dedicated to the memory of Princess Diana. As the B-side to his cover of ‘Candle in the Wind’, it be became the bestselling single of all-time.
The Reason: As a friend of the Beckhams, John was supposed to sing this song at their wedding, but fell ill and missed the gig. He made up for it by playing it at a Beckham christening.
‘No Es No Lismo’ – Alejandro Sanz
The Song: Track from the 2003 album of the same name by the Spanish singer-songwriter. It reached No. 3 on the Billboard Latin Pop Airplay Chart.
The Reason: David spent four years playing for Real Madrid, and in endeavouring to embrace the culture, he became friends with Sanz, and a fan of his music.
‘Wild’ – The Rolling Stones
The Song: Appearing on the Stones’ 1971 album ‘Sticky Fingers’, this country-tinged ballad only reached 28 on the Billboard Hot 100, but in 2004 Rolling Stone named it the 334th greatest song ever.
The Reason: Becks says he played this one on the way to big occasions, and also sticks it on to help get him through tough times.
‘The Girl is Mine’ – Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney
The Song: Before they fell out over the rights to The Beatles’ back catalogue, Jacko and Macca recorded this schmaltzy ballad for Michael’s ‘Thriller’, which went on to become the biggest selling album in history. The single itself reached No. 2 in the States and No. 8 in the UK.
The Reason: Made his daughter Harper laugh when he danced to it.
‘Si To Vois Ma Mere’ – Sidney Bechet
The Song: Bechet was a hugely important and influential jazz composer, saxophonist and clarinetist in the early part of the 20th century. This beautiful number was recorded towards the end of his career, and features prominently in Woody Allen film Midnight in Paris.
The Reason: Reminds David of his time playing for PSG in Paris; a period when his career was coming to an end.
So those were his songs, but David also had to pick a book. With the Bible and the complete works of Shakespeare already provided, he plumped for cook book ‘On Fire’ by Francis Mallmann, in the hope that it would help him rustle up something to eat on the island. As for a luxury item, Beckham chose his 115 England caps.