* For those who don’t know it, the Desert Island Disc is a cult programme on BBC radio 4, where celebrities reveal their top 10 songs and life experiences combined with those songs. The story goes that a lot of wannabes carry their top 10 lists around, just in case they’ll be asked to appear on the programme.

1. Joan Baez – The Crimes of Cain

The year was 1980, Polish population was caught in the middle of the marshal law, following the workers’ strike in the Gdansk shipyard. The country was on the edge of the civil war, but life goes on… My mother would come home with a glint of triumph in her eyes because, after two days of queuing, she managed to buy an autumn/winter pair of shoes. (It was one of the two pairs assigned per person per year. The other pair was officially related to as a “spring/summer” pair). Standing in lines required a certain art, and certain code of behaviour. Usually, you turned up in a line once a day, to tick your name off on a social list. You could bring a replacement for a couple of days/hours, or you could even rent a professional queue stander.

A cousin of my neighbours, who lived in a village, gave them half of a pig. Since meat, as everything else, was rationed, they skinned it and turned into pork cutlets in the bathtub of their studio apartment, under the forgiving wings of the night. My dad got some chops in return for a litre of a potato moonshine (that was my uncle’s production).

And above all this madness, there soared the angel-like voice of Joan, singing from the Gdansk shipyard for the oppressed and the starving about the solidarity of hearts and fraternal crimes. For once, the sacred and the profane co-existed next to each other, joined in this unforgettable mixture of spiritual and surreal.

2. David Bowie- Let’s Dance

And then I discovered pop. i am a child of the 80’s and that was Bowie’s 80’s come back. It was light, it was beautiful and it was different. “If you say run, I’ll run with you” the song was calling, and I wanted to run with it. Ironically, years later, I read that the song was actually about the straggle of the Aboriginals against the Western imperialism – well, looks like there are certain things you can’t run away from.

3. John Lee Hooker – Boom, Boom

In Warsaw, where I went to university, I was introduced to the Aquarium. It was a legendary jazz club in Warsaw. Jazz was frowned upon by the officials. It was a rotten Western music. For students and artists, it was the means of escape, and a glimpse into a different reality. The Aquarium was allowed to exist only because it played the music of “black brothers enslaved by the Imperial America”. J.L.Hooker has always been my favourite. I love his sense of rythm, his quiet unassuming presence combined with an amazingly strong voice. Nobody can play blues like him.

4. Dashboard Confessional – As Lovers Go

I don’t know a lot about the band or the song – I actually heard it for the first time in Shrek2, but for some reason the song has resonated really strongly with me. “She said ‘ I’ve got to be honest, you’re wasting your time fishing around here’. And I said ‘you must be mistaken, I’m not fooling, this feeling is real'”. How many times we’ve dreamt about falling in love at first sight- passionately and forever. Well.. it happened to me 5 times – I’m not joking- 5 times somebody told me they were in love with me a couple of hours after meeting me for the first time… they all turned out to be freaks! .. Yet, I still listen to that song- sad sucker!

5. Frank Sinatra – Lady is a Tramp

That’s me- or at least that’s used to be me. Always swimming upstream, always against the rules, always laughing in the face of Society. I like to think that some part of me will stay that way forever, even if the rest turns old and boring.

6. Kim Carnes- She’s Got Betty Davis Eyes

She’s precocious and she knows just what it takes to make a pro blush. This song is for all the strong, self-aware women out there. I wrote my university paper on the changing image of femme fatal in the American movies. Bara, Garbo, Dietrich- they always fascinated me. Those were strong women living by their own rules. Their sexuality was second to their personalities. I preferred Betty to let’s say Dietrich. Betty was natural – she couldn’t give a toss; whilst Marlena was a bit of a studious poser. With Marlena a lot was about appearances. With Betty, she just said what she meant . “Fasten your sit belts – it’s gonna be a bumpy night”.

7. Tom Waits -I Hope that I don’t Fall in Love with You

Tom Waits is one of those guys you either hate or you love. Personally, I think he has one of the most amazing voices. It’s yet another very wise and very beautiful song about the possibilities, unfulfilled dreams and fickleness of human nature . A man sees a woman in a bar. He’s drown towards her, he watches her, yet he can’t work up the courage to approach her. When he finally turns around to face her.. she’s gone. That’s life – lots of “what ifs” and lost opportunities.

8. Celia Cruz- La Vida Es un Carnaval

Last but not least. I love Latin music, especially classic Latin beat and Celia’s song seems the best choice to finish my list. For those who think life is not fair, it’s not true Life is a carnival and you need to live through it singing.

9. and 10.

I’m still looking for those songs

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