Inheritance Tracks

Radio 4 has some interesting and powerful musical programmes. Powerful because we get to share an aspect on someone’s life through the music they love. I wonder at the genius of the people who developed them and wanted to share some music.

Desert Island Discs is a radio programme broadcast on BBC Radio 4. It was first broadcast on the BBC Forces Programme on 29 January 1942. Each week a guest, called a “castaway” during the programme, is asked to choose eight recordings, a book and a luxury item that they would take if they were to be cast away on a desert island, whilst discussing their life and the reasons for their choices. It was devised and originally presented by Roy Plomley.

I recently listened to an episode of Inheritance tracks, which is a segment on BBC Radio 4 Saturday Live. In this segment, famous people share information about the music that they would recommend to future generations, and the music that they would say that they, themselves, inherited from a previous generation. I had not heard of Labi Siffre before, but in less than 8 minutes I felt I got a sense of him, as a fellow human. He shared his tracks, explained why they were important to him, and said something about his life.

The song he had inherited seemed to come from his brother’s musical collection: Il Canto sung by Luciano Pavarotti. Not knowing Italian, but feeling the phenomenal voice he imagines Pavarotti, as the older man advising the young, who may be having problems, and saying Love is the answer. Life and Love affirming song which goes well with the note, he found in his mother’s purse: So strong.

The song he would like to pass on is Sail Away by Randy Newman. Whilst he talks about this song, he states that he knew he was gay at 4, black at 14 and aware he was not welcome, in the country of his birth at 6. The song should be passed on to everyone because “we demand to be considered blameless but this song is the reverse of that, it is an acceptance of collective responsibility.”

The soundtracks to my life include:

My father’s radio and the South Asian films we would watch. One of my dad’s favourite was “Aaj Purani Rahoon Se Koi Mujhe Awaz Na De” from a film called Aadmi and sung by Mohammad Rafi. A rather sad song and a reflections on those moments of melancholy sadness we can all have.

Another song by Mohammed Rafi Ehsan Tera Hoga Mujh Par is a reminder of my father and youngest brother. Father because of the title and my youngest brother because he was little, when I first heard it because a neighbour put it on a mixed tape.

There are so many songs I enjoy and would like to share but limiting my self to one there is a song from an Indian film, I remember watching as child, which continues to resonate today: Amar Akbar Anthony. A 1977 Indian film which focuses on three brothers, separated in childhood, who are adopted by families of different faiths: Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity. In one scene they come together and sing a song. In essence we are of one family and we make the impossible possible when we come together. A lovely dream and a reminder of a song we sang in school: The family of Man keeps growing … I belong to a family, the biggest on the earth … Our name isn’t Davis, Hall, Groves, or Jones, It’s a name every man should be proud he owns, …Wherever you go you’ll find my kin, Whatever the creed or the colour of the skin.

The path

Further Information:

Inheritance Tracks — Labi Siffre — BBC Sounds:

Amar Akbar Anthony Full Video — Amar Akbar Anthony | Kishore Kumar |Amitabh Bachchan, Vinod, Rishi — YouTube



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