Microsoft co-founder, billionaire, and philanthropist extraordinaire Bill Gates has his desert island song list all picked out. However, he has no desire to be alone in the middle of the ocean, but not for the reason you’d think.
In a candid interview with the BBC program Desert Island Discs on Sunday, Bill said the solitary time to think and read wouldn’t bother him very much. But stuck on a desert island all alone would mean that all of his brilliant ideas would be worthless, according to Vanity Fair.
What would happen, he pondered, if he came up with a way to eradicate malaria? All alone, Gates worried he’d have no one to share his idea with, and as a result, “I’d be disappointed.”
But Bill still played along with the game, which has been going on since 1942, the Washington Post reported. Since then, BBC radio has invited performers, politicians, lords, dames, and businessmen to reveal which eight gramophone records they’d bring on a desert island, and then played their picks on the air.
Of course, these days a desert island playlist would be stored on a smartphone, but the concept is still the same. Bill picked an eclectic mix of tunes, one that the Post pointed out was intimately connected to his professional life.
Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen inspired one choice: Jimi Hendrix’s “Are You Experienced?” a question he’d often ask the younger Gates to tease him about being unable to drink or do other adult activities. Another song choice was Bono’s “One,” which represented their partnership in global health philanthropy.
Naturally, Gates’ long-time rival and Apple founder, the late Steve Jobs, inspired a rather adorable choice: The Beatles’ “Two of Us,” which Gates explained.
“Steve was really into music and he loved the Beatles and so did I. And he actually mentioned the song, ‘Two of Us,’ saying that was kind of like this journey we’d been on where we’d been competing and working together.”
Bill picked “How Can Love Survive” from the Broadway version of The Sound of Music as a tribute to a meeting with Warren Buffett and his first wife, Susie, when they sang the song for him, he recalled. As a tribute to the early, frantic years of his career — back when the then 19-year-old Gates only take a break to go dancing on the weekends — Bill chose David Bowie and Queen’s “Under Pressure.”
But he also had a couple choices that weren’t inspired by his professional career. He picked Ed Sheeran’s “Sing” for his daughter, Phoebe, and Willie Nelson’s “Blue Skies” for his wife, Melinda. The legendary singer actually crooned that tune for her on the beach the night before they wed.
In other confessions, unrelated to a hypothetical stay on a desert island, he revealed some fairly funny, and sometimes unnerving, stories from his younger years. Back when he was still in high school, Paul Allen — who was in college at the time — figured out how to fix the class rosters at their school so Gates could be in the only male student in a class full of girls. Trouble was, the teen had no idea how to talk to the fairer sex.
“I was the one who benefited by being able to have the nice girls at least sit near me. It wasn’t that I could talk to them or anything — but they were there. I think I was particularly inept at talking to girls.”
Later, he confessed that by the time he was the boss at Microsoft, he had become something of a fanatic. He worked all the time, didn’t take vacations, and had to “be a little careful not to try and apply my standards to how hard they worked.” It didn’t work.
“I knew everyone’s license plates so I could look out in the parking lot and see when did people come in, when were they leaving,” he said, according to United Press International. “Eventually I had to loosen up, as the company got to a reasonable size.”
[Photo by Dave Thompson/Getty Images]