Desert Island Discs – Follow up: “shivers down your spine”



What a fabulous response Almanackers to my recent Desert Island Disc post. Your inspired selections and comments were both mind blowing and thought provoking, covering  a wide range of genres, with the music  coming from over many decades during  the past one hundred years. Certainly a playlist  or two in the waiting there!


Within the comments, notably by Damian Balassone, Mickey Randall, and Trucker Slim was the common discussion about the concept of how a particular section or part of a song has the ability to “send shivers down your spine”, such as the opening chord of “Help” by The Beatles or Neil Young’s guitar solo in “Like a Hurricane”.



So Almanackers, the challenge this week is to nominate that section of a song that grabs you, that “sends shivers down your spine” whenever you hear it.


I’ll start the ball rolling: “Absolutely Sweet Marie” by Bob Dylan from Blonde on Blonde with Kenny Buttrey’s  dynamic drumming throughout drives the song but the highlighted part that gets me is around the 3.44m mark, I always turn the volume up here, if I can!. Don’t really know why it appeals to me but it does.


Another piece of music that always moves me is the part in “Jupiter, the bringer of Jollity” from “The Planets” by Gustav Holst when it move to the slow movement, very emotional, and certainly sends shivers down my spine.



And of course, Pavarotti going for it in “Nessun Dorma” , spine tingling!



Check out the Desert Island Discs post HERE


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About Colin Ritchie

Retired teacher who enjoys following the Bombers, listening to music especially Bob Dylan, reading, and swimming.


  1. The drumming and slide interplay in Down Along the Cove; the Cowbell in In the Street; the guitar breaks in the Stand in the Fire version of The Sin; the soaring “Happiness is a warm, yes it is, guuuuun”; ” You said you’d be an actress, etc” in The French Inhaler; the rhythm and lead in Pure and Easy; the drum lick that intros the second half of Rocks Off; the horns all through Forever Changes; Ecstasy of Gold; the lead lick at the end of Rock and Roll;

  2. The french horn in “Penny Lane”. The winding descending guitar intro to Joan Baez’ “Diamonds and Rust” that says nothing good happens here. Roy Bittan’s piano in “Jungleland” that says you fell asleep in a rock concert and woke up in Carnegie Hall. The backward bass intro to “Galveston”. Best of all chiming guitar riffs from the Byrds “Mr Tambourine Man” to the Pretenders “Talk of the Town” Dicky Betts rollicking riffs in the Allman Brothers “Jessica”. They can play me out to that.

  3. Eddie Cochran is long dead, dying before i was born. However he put together some great tunes. The lead break in Jeanie Jeanie is literally something else. For a song recorded in the late 1950’s that lead break sends a shiver down the spine.

    On the Stray Cats first album they cover the song . Brian Setzer who is damn fine guitarist does a great lead break, fantastic tribute to a great bit of music in a great song.

    Whilst we’re on Eddie Cochran he recorded a tune called Three Stars about the tragic deaths of his three friends, Richie Valens, Buddy Holly and JP Richardson. Cochran himself died not long after recording it. He’d said he had premonitions of his own death shortly prior to dying. The song doesn’t put shivers up my spine but occasionally brings tears to my eyes, as it’s doing currently.


  4. Right on Glen re Eddie Cochran. Just brilliant.

    And this:

    Sometime in the late 80s I was driving through Leederville when Roy Orbison’s Pretty Woman came on the radio. I was so enthralled with the song I had to pull over. I couldn’t concentrate. I was barracking so hard for Roy’s protagonist. And when he implores her to be “mine tonight” stretching the word tonight in that beautiful “glass-shattering” falsetto, my heart was pounding. But she walks by.


    “What’s this I see, she’s walking back to me”!

    And I’m punching the air in a parked car, for Roy and for every chump like me who came through.

    The drums are the narrative driver and the rhythm picks up after Roy sings the line, “but wait”. Boom, boom, boom, boom. And just keeps building to the crescendo and last line, Pretty Woman! That drum rhythm by the inestimable Buddy Harman (check out his CV) with bassman Henry Strzelecki in step, is the bomb.

  5. Glen, Eddie Cochran made some fantastic recordings. My all time favourite of his is “Summertime Blues”. Incidentally he made an appearance in that fantastic movie “The Girl Can’t Help It” starring Jane Mansfield and Tom Ewell.

    Rick, agree completely with your comments on “The Big O” singing “Pretty Woman” not only is Roy quite superb but the whole crescendo is nothing short of magnificent. The other one of my favorite Orbison songs would have to be “Leah” – again sensational.

  6. DBalassone says

    Wonderful thread gents – to add to Pretty Woman, I just love the bridge part the most. Gets me every time. The Big O’s version of ‘Danny Boy’ is just stunning too. I want that one blasting at my funeral when they’re carrying me out…

    Some other randoms:

    Every note of ‘Here, There & Everywhere’ – the pinnacle of songmaking for me.

    Opening riff for ‘Brown Sugar’ and closing part of song where Mick shouts ‘I said yeah, yeah, yeah, ooooh’ and then those funky guitars just take over. The listener becomes jumping jack.

    The bit after the sax solo in ‘Jungleland’ where it’s real quiet and Bruce comes back in almost whispering the lyrics building up to a Neanderthal cry, with a beautiful interplay with the piano.

    Key change in ‘Flame Trees’ (do you remember nothing stopped us in the field).

    ‘Madame George’ between 4:30 and 5:30 where the violins, flutes and Van the Man’s voice just soar.

    ‘French Inhaler’ live version on Learning to Flinch (Another pretty face / Devastated).

    Lennon’s ‘Beautiful Boy; and the ‘life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans’ bit.

    Dylan’s version of The Grateful Dead’s ‘Friend of the Devil’ from the album Stolen Roses. Not so much for Dylan, but for an otherworldly pedal guitar solo at the end of the song that just elevates you to some place of spiritual refuge. Unexplainable.

  7. Just a few of many favourite moments:
    Bobby Gregg’s snare drum intro – Like a Rolling Stone, Bob Dylan.
    Clarence Clemons’ sax solo – Born to Run, Bruce Springsteen.
    John Bonham’s snare drum – When the Levee breaks, Led Zeppelin.
    Mike Mills’ backing vocals – Near Wild Heaven, REM.
    Merry Clayton’s backing vocals – Gimme Shelter, Rolling Stones.
    McCartney’s vocal change at the start of the second verse just before Ringo’s drum intro – Golden Slumbers, The Beatles.
    Paul Simonen’s bass riff – Guns of Brixton, the Clash.
    When The Edge’s jangly guitar starts – Where the streets have no name, U2.
    the opening acoustic guitar cords – Love Goes On!, the Go Betweens.
    Dave Gilmour’s two guitar solos – Comfortably Numb, Pink Floyd.
    When Shane Macgowan ruefully explains “I could have been someone…” to which Kirsty McColl replies “Well, so could anyone…” – Fairytale of New York, The Pogues.
    The bridge section with organ and bass prior to the drums kicking in again – Tin Soldier, Small Faces.
    McCartney, Lennon & Harrison’s three part harmony – Because, The Beatles.
    The weeping violin solo – Sad Lisa, Cat Stevens.

  8. Good to see the pedal steel noted in this discussion by DB and I’ll add to that in another post.

    I want to salute talking in songs, a great and under utilised technique. Several that leap to mind are:

    1. Elvis in Are You Lonesome Tonight
    2. Lowell George in Little Feat’s Willin (what a great song)
    And my fave talking bit in song,
    3. Kenny Rogers in Coward of the County (You could have heard a pin drop when Tommy stopped and locked the door).


  9. Ta Fisho, Eddie Cochran delivered some great music. Sadly he wasn’t around for long being killed back in April 1960. “The Girl Can’t help It” a classic rock’n’roll film.

    Smokie Simonon’s bass is powerful on “Guns Of Brixton”. ‘How you gonna come, with your hands on your head, or on the trigger of your gun?’ Powerful stuff.


  10. Glen, on my final WEA course, back in 2009, One of my students was named Leah. I mentioned to her how much I loved Roy Orbison’s recording of that song. She then revealed her parents named her after that very same song. She also loves it. I’ve since learned that many girls were similarly named thanks to the Big O.

    Another LP I like very much is a rock and Roll album by Conway Twitty featuring “It’s Only Make Believe” (sensational), “Make Me Know Your Mine”,”Lonely Blue Boy, Mona Lisa and “Danny Boy” to name but a few.

  11. Love this thread.
    And can *hear* everything mentioned.
    My top 2 would be those of fairytale of new york and near wild heaven as already identified by Smokie.

    Distant Sun – Crowded House – the bridge beginning: “And I’m lying on the table…”
    I am struck in the heart each time with the harmony and peace of:
    “I don’t pretend to know what you want
    But I offer love…”

    Everybody Hurts – R.E.M.
    Key change.
    “Don’t throw your hand
    Oh, no…”

    Bad – U2
    When Bono first reaches for the “ooh ooh. Ooh ooh”

    I’ll follow the sun – The Beatles
    “And now the time has come and so my love I must go…”

    Fall at your feet – Crowded House
    Neil & Tim Finn harmonies.
    “The finger of blame has turned upon itself
    And I’m more than willing to offer myself
    Do you want my presence or need my help
    Who knows where that might lead..”

    for starters.

  12. Brilliant thread. So many highlights. Another suggestion: in the last seconds of the outro of Rose of Cimmaron by Poco when the banjo and harmonica emerge ever so quietly and briefly.

  13. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    There’s bits of all of these that make me shiver, cry, sit up and pay attention etc

    Shot By Both Sides (Magazine)
    Shake Some Action (Flamin’ Groovies)
    Roadrunner (Modern Lovers)
    Hospital (Modern Lovers)
    Star Sign (Teenage Fanclub)
    Vapour Trail (Ride)
    Electrical Storm (Ed Kuepper)
    Levi Stubbs’ Tears (Billy Bragg)

    Funny that no-one has mentioned Shivers by The Screaming J–, er Boys Next Door

  14. Wow , Poco’s “Rose Of Cimmaron”, from back in late 1976. It did have a lovely, swirling outro.

    Nice song.


  15. DBalassone says

    What about segues? ‘Romance in Durango’ into ‘Black Diamond Bay’ on side 2 of Desire is sheer beauty.

    In fact, I think side 2 of Desire is one of Dylan’s most exotic and mercurial moments (the aforementioned songs along with ‘Joey’ and ‘Sara’).

  16. Way back in ’79 I was very partial to RACEY. SOME GIRLS was simply sensational – both the song (fantastic beat) and video.

  17. DB- regarding the Desire segue, that is a very good get. I’ve always been an admirer of this moment, and album. The sense of exotic excitement is terrific as one track melts into the other.

    Fisho – one (the) highlight of my early adolescence was winning the Some Girls single at a roller-disco at the Kapunda Trotting Club. Despite my abysmal skating skills my prize gained me a minute of two of adulation.

  18. Colin Ritchie says

    Fabulous comments everyone, the diverse range of “spine tingling” moments has been eye opening to say the least. You forget about songs, someone mentions it or an aspect and a flood of memories come racing back.
    Mickey, I’d completely forgotten “Rose of Cimmaron” until you raised it above. I’d bought the LP when it was released just for that song.At the moment I’m trying to find the LP. In the process of downsizing a few months ago things are all over the place, hopefully it’s not in the bottom box of a stack at the back of the garage!

  19. Desire has One More Cup of Coffee which automatically makes it a ripper. Including for spine tingling moments, the stop before he sings “to the valley below”.

    But Joey leaves us questioning. Dylan has never reconciled having a protest song like Hurricane on the same album as what appears to be a glorification of a gangster in Joey.


  20. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    I would like to add

    What’s So Funny About Peace, Love and Understanding (EC’s version)
    Life On Mars? (Bowie)
    Bachelor Kisses (Go-Betweens)
    Cattle and Cane (Go-Betweens)

  21. Colin Ritchie says

    A few other tingly bits have come to mind:
    “Eight Miles High” – The Byrds, at 0.32m mark just as the vocals begin and McGuinn’s 12 string Rickenbacker breaks out. A magical recognisable, jangly sound from McGuinn that permeates into all his playing that he has made his own. I’ve been fortunate to see him play a couple of times; that guitar just sends shivers down my spine.
    Another song is “San Francisco (Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair)” – Scott McKenzie. The acoustic guitar intro with its easy strum sets up the mood for this classic song.

  22. Desire prompts me to add a lyric that never fails to have me reflexively shout out “attendez-vous, s’il vous plait” like some mad Tourettes case.

  23. Colin Ritchie says

    I’ve made a Spotify playlist: The Footy Almanac Spine Tingling Playlist of all the songs mentioned in the comments, except for “Forever Changes” (LP- Love?), and Ecstasy (who by?) both uncertain about.

  24. DBalassone says

    Rick, I like to think of ‘Joey’ as a Scorsese gangster film in song and verse. Dylan says Jacques Levy wrote most of the lyric, but who knows. It’s a cinematic album indeed: you go from a boxer framed for murder in a Jersey bar, to two cowboys on the adventure of a lifetime to the pyramids, to the beaches of Mozambique, to the gypsies of Southern France, to a Scorsese gangster tale, to a bloodthirsty Peckinpah Western in Durango, to the Bogart-inspired Black Diamond Bay where a volcano is about to erupt on a tropic isle, and then you finish with the white goddess Sara (who inspired Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands).

  25. Yeah DB, I get that (and beautifully described) and I love the record. But for me Joey is problematic. Another for us to debate over a beer!

    Colin, brilliant. What a playlist.

    Anotheree, from an artist mot nearly as lauded as he should be. Charlie Rich. The Most Beautiful Girl in the World. A man that stuffs up badly and knows he’s to blame. His singing is sublime. Tell her I’m sorry – breaks my heart.

  26. This one shows my age. How about the LATE, GREAT GUY MITCHELL I reckon I came close to wearing out my albums of him singing such classics as “Singing the Blues”, “Rock a Billy”, “The Roving Kind”, “She Wears Red Feathers”, “Truly Fair”, “Pittsberg Pennsylvania”, “Knee Deep in the Blues”, “Sippin’ Soda” and “Sunshine Guitar”. It gives me goose bumps thing about it.

  27. Then again, how about that fantastic rock and Roller LLOYD PRICE. WITH DON COSTA’S ORCHESTRA. His “Personality” was a smash hit followed by “I’m Agunna Get Married” and “Where Were You On My Wedding Day”
    But my all time favourite was “Stagger Lea” This was a sensation and was censored in some states of America as it told the story of”Two men who gambled late” culminating in Stagger Lea shooting Billy for “You have won all my money and my brand new stetson hat”. After all these years I still love that song – by far the best rendition of it.

  28. Colin Ritchie says

    Fisho, you’re on a roll now! And triggering so many memories. As kids in the late 50s/ early60s we lived in the country and often we’d travel to Melb to visits rellos etc, long trip 2 hours or so but the car radio helped to while away the time. “Personality” & “Singing the Blues” were favourites but others come to mind, perhaps a bit daggy these days but loved them then. “Love letters in the Sand” – Pat Boone (ahhhh!), “In the Middle of an Island” – Tony Bennett I think, “Send me the pillow that you dream on” – Johnny Tillitson, and “Waterloo” where will you meet your Waterloo……” can’t remember the singer. All these songs are going round and round my head at the moment!

  29. Colin, How about Billy Williams singing “I’M GUNNA SIT RIGHT DOWN AND WRITE MYSELF A LETTER” ( with lots of kisses on the bottom and make believe it came from you) OH YEAH. Also loved Johnny Tillitson’s “Without You ” and “Poetry in Motion” fantastic. Keep ’em coming folks

  30. Colin Ritchie says

    Yes, Fisho! I was trying to remember the name of that song a while ago. I had “Love letters….” on my mind and it wouldn’t go away. Certainly a big favourite from the early days. I’m thinking a Spotify playlist with all these favourites needs to be made up. Cheers.

  31. Enjoyed the chat about Dylan’s “Desire”. It is nothing less than brilliant, and my favourite Dylan record. My dad played it endlessly when I was a kid.

    Damo, regarding segues: I give you “Double Life” into “Shoo Be Doo” into “Candy-O” off the Cars’ album “Candy-O’.

  32. I suspect there’s a whole post and thread regarding which Dylan album to take to the desert island (if only it were a dessert island). For me, it’d be out of Desire and Blood on the Tracks. The former as DB says, a cinematic work with mythology and broad, raucous narratives, and the later, an often fragile album of loss. Probably Desire by a short half head. It’s funny too with Isis having laugh out loud verses like-

    The wind it was howlin’ and the snow was outrageous
    We chopped through the night and we chopped through the dawn
    When he died I was hopin’ that it wasn’t contagious
    But I made up my mind that I had to go on.

  33. Oh MR and Smokie what are ye talking about! Desire is desirable but up against Highway 61, Blonde on Blonde, The Basement Tapes, Blood on the Tracks, Modern Times, World Gone Wrong (yeah, a covers album because only Dylan can make a covers album his own), Nashville Skyline, and my latter era Dylan absolute fave, Love and Theft? What the! (I was going to include Planet Waves and Under the Red Sky in there as well but I didn’t want to frighten the horses).

    And just for the hell of it:

    My grandfather was a duck trapper
    He could do it with just dragnets and ropes
    My grandmother could sew new dresses out of old cloth
    I don’t know if they had any dreams or hopes

  34. DBalassone says

    I’m not going to argue with you Rick – it’s all in the ear of the beholder – but personally I rate Desire right up there alongside Blood on the Tracks, Highway 61 Revisited, Bringing it All Back Home and Blonde on Blonde as one of Dylan’s great, great albums. I also love Slow Train Coming, Infidels and the Basement Tapes (in its many incarnations).

    I’ve also got a spot for the latter day stuff Modern Times, Love & Theft, and the Bootleg Series Volume 8 Tell Tale Signs which is a rip snorter, I tell you.

  35. Love the Bootleg series and a big fan of Volume 8 Tell Tale Signs. So many gems. Red River Shore, Marchin to the City, 32-20 Blues and Cross the Green Mountain to name a few stunners. And Born in Time knocks me down every time. Might play it on the way home.


  36. Has anyone thought to mention DEL SHANNON. “Runaway”, “Hats off to Larry”, “The Swish Maid”, “Two Kinds of Teardrops”, “Hey Little Girl”, “So Long Baby” and my favourite “Ginny in the Mirror.”. In these days of mental problems Del Shannon comes to mind, I believe he actually committed suicide. What a loss.

    Then again, there was “Little Miss Dynamite”, Brenda Lee who burst on the scene when aged only 13. Who can forget “Sweet Nothings”, “All you gotta do”, “Anybody but me”, “Eventually”, “Dum Dum”, “The So Deep Twist” and “Jambalaya” to name but a few.

    Connie Francis (“Stupid Cupid”, Fallin'”, Lipstick on your Collar” etc) was sensational also.

  37. Les Everett says

    Oh yeah… those trumpets on Alone Again Or by Love from Forever Changes.

  38. Colin Ritchie says

    Del Shannon, how could I forget! Loved both versions of “Runaway”, and the organ solo in “Searching'”. Had a piddle with Del in the late 70s at The Sentimental Bloke Hotel when he was doing a tour of Aussies pubs. Nice bloke, chatted freely as we passed the time. Far too good to be doing that sort of show but he gave 100% and as I remember the sound was fantastic. (Del Shannon was his stage name; he was born Charles Weedon Westover)

  39. John Butler says

    A few off the top of the head:

    Johnny Cash – Hurt “My empire of dirt….”

    Television – Marquee Moon

    Funkadelic – Maggot Brain – Eddie Hazel’s solo

    The Drones – Shark Fin Blues

    Straightjacket Fits – Down In Splendour

    Go-Betweens – Cattle and Cain

    Triffids – Wide Open Road

    Stooges – TV Eye

    Prince – Mountains

    Where do you stop?

  40. Earl O'Neill says

    Shivers and tears. I made a cd comp for my parents many years ago.
    ‘All along the watchtower’, Jimi Hendrix, on a bus from Bondi Junction to Taylor Square, c’92, listening to this on the Walkman, I unaccountably fell apart on the back seat around the top end of Paddington.
    ‘Breaks my heart’, Radio Birdman, reminds me of a beautiful moment of young love, esp when Rob sings “Come on and break my heart”
    ‘Fucking up’, Neil Young, especially the live version on Weld. I was walking thru the park on my way to the bus stop, c’97, earphones on, that fantastic screaming gtr solo and at the end he sings “Just a fuckup, just a fuckup, just a fuckup” and the band collapses onto that D riff and I collapsed onto the lawn.
    Driving between jobs one day, the horrible ‘Love and other bruises’ hit tne radio and I had to pull over, laughing and crying and remembering one arvo when my late best friend and I recited the lyrics – I can’t help it laughing loud, it’s because I’m on a cloud – and fell about the loungeroom in hilarity.

  41. Just remembered, the bass intro to Motorhead’s Ace of Spades! Sets up the song! And tip of the hat to Dazed and Confused, LZ.

  42. How about MANFRED MANN singing Do-wah- diddy. And of course their big hit recording”WITH GOD ON OUR SIDE” especially appropriate with the present rugby kerfuffle about free speech. “The Mighty Quin” and “Semi-detached suburban Mr James”, weren’t too bad either.

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