Bishop Nick's 'Desert Island Discs'

Around 50 people came to hear Bishop Nick’s choice of ‘Desert Island Discs’ on Friday evening in Ripon.

Publicity for a previous event had talked about 'dessert' island discs, so the organisers were inspired to combine the music with a plethora of puddings.

Interviewed by Michelle Gee, communications officer at Ripon Cathedral (and former presenter on ITV’s Calendar), Bishop Nick’s choice of music began with the Beatles’ Penny Lane.

He grew up in Liverpool (his parents have lived in the same house for 64 years) and he said as a child he used to get his hair cut at the very barber’s mentioned in the lyrics. He said, “The barber asked you what style you wanted, but it was irrelevant because his hand shook.

"It always amazes me how the Beatles were able to write a song with such global reach about something so very ordinary. (And by the way, I’m the only Bishop who’s been arrested for busking in the Paris metro - singing Beatles’ songs, as it happens, when I was 20).”

His next choice was Lord of the Starfields by Canadian singer songwriter Bruce Cockburn. He said, “I’m a real devotee of Bruce Cockburn. He’s one of the best poets and guitarists – I have 30 of his albums.

“I’ve got to know Professor Brian Cox over the last couple of years, and although he’s an agnostic astrophysicist, we both share a sense of awe at the universe. (The difference is he asks the how questions and I ask the why questions.) And Bruce Cockburn has a brilliant gift for encapsulating that sense of wonder.”

He said that Leonard Cohen is another musician-poet whom he hugely admires: “Like a psalmist he can express in a few words something that opens a thought up rather than closing it down. I went to see him in concert when he was 81 (he died at the age of 85) and while there have been scores of covers of Hallelujah, his own version is unsurpassed.”

His fourth choice was River of Tears by Eric Clapton: “It’s the epitome of the blues – a minor key that never resolves. Like the great tradition of the psalms of lament it’s an expression of what happens when the world falls apart. And like much great music it doesn’t fill all the gaps, it gives the music space.”

A change of tempo came with Mozart’s Ave Verum Corpus, which he says invariably brings him to the edge of tears, and it was followed by the Brandenburg Concerto No 2 in F – a reminder of his trumpet playing days.

His other choices were Bob Dylan’s Spirit on the Water, Private Universe by Crowed House, What’s so funny about peace, love & understanding by Elvis Costello and U2’s I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.


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