I've always considered the concept of "Desert Island Discs" to be profoundly flawed. Castaways usually base their musical choices on soundtracks for specific occasions or moods, rather than the harsh realities of being stuck on a desolate beach for decades, looking like a cross between Moses and the Last of the Mohicans. How can anyone possibly guess which songs or tunes they might draw comfort from when abandoned to such a barbarous fate?
Sitting safe at home, surrounded by all the conveniences of the developed world, you might idly decide that both Dubussy's La Mer and Bobby Darin singing Beyond the Sea would be ideal discs to bring to your desert island. Later, however, when you're actually squatting by the remorseless shore with only a single palm tree leaf to protect your head from the unbearable heat, with nothing to drink but briny water and stale coconut milk, when only endless wave after endless wave of an indifferent ocean can be seen upon the watery horizon, then you might find yourself growing a trifle weary of listening to La Mer and Beyond the Sea and wish you'd brought Johann Strauss' Tales From The Vienna Woods instead.
Most people's musical preferences can change with the weather too, quite literally. Eight tunes chosen on a rainy day might suddenly seem inadequate when sun finally breaks through the clouds, and vice versa. But anyone marooned on a desert island will probably experience a preponderance of sunny days, so logic might compel him to err on the side of cheerful songs (with one moody chanson set aside for the - hopefully brief - monsoon season).
Then there is the question of Man Friday's feelings: should we take his musical taste into account or just please ourselves? A knotty problem made even more Gordian by the fact that we would be obviously unaware of what type of music Man Friday liked when departing from the initial shipwreck. There are so many convoluted administrative issues requiring resolution before any actual disc choice is made that the sane castaway is tempted to choose no discs at all, and listen solely, as Robinson Crusoe must have done, to the songs of local seabirds while the wind strums across the sand.
Personal maturity also plays an important role in desert island disc selection. That pop song once thought so profound in teenage years, for example, gradually loses its appeal as the former fan drifts ever nearer to the coast of fifty; its place in the list of essential discs is usurped by the symphonies of composers who've been dead for centuries, live tapes of obscure jazz groups playing in long demolished basements, or possibly even ancient recordings of some grimy hobo playing the banjo in a cow field. Such highbrow discs as those are a guarantee of tropical sophistication, so I suppose we can excuse an item of pop juvenilia also, if you really want one, just for nostalgia's sake (even though pop music is clearly the bane of any cultured eardrum).
Of course, the most depressing aspect of making any musical selection is discovering how mundane and conventional your final choices actually are. You may regard yourself as an exceptionally progressive intellectual who enjoys the works of Stockhausen and Anton Webern, but when the last lifeboat is leaving and decisions need to be made, well, few sane listeners would wish to be stuck with that challenging pair on a desert island for eternity. So at the eleventh hour, like every other castaway, you will surely seize upon run-of-the-mill classics such as Jupiter, Bringer of Joy and The Lark Ascending instead.
The best desert island discs, then, would appear to be a broad selection of refined yet still humdrum genre melodies that lack any semblance of an aquatic theme. The aim should be to conjure inspirational memories of a previous, more congenial and civilized lifestyle, and also attempts to relieve the endless tedium while not provoking hostilities with Man Friday or whatever ravenous wildlife might be sniffing around your makeshift camp. I would offer some suggestions here, but I don't wish to boast of my own exquisite taste and culturally advanced sensibility. Suffice it say, many of my favorites require an ancient 78 RPM phonograph with a cranking handle; Edwardian technology that I'm certain Man Friday would love to learn how to operate for me.