Soundtrack Of My Life: Mark Radcliffe

Soundtrack Of My Life: Mark Radcliffe

The song I wish I’d written

Smokey Robinson & The Miracles – ‘The Tracks of my Tears’

“I don’t see how pop music could get any better than this. Beautifully sung, beautifully played, beautifully produced. It’s perfection. It’s simple too, like all the great pop songs are. If you went to your grave having written a song like ‘The Tracks of my Tears’ I think that would be a massive achievement.”

The first song I remember hearing

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Traffic – ‘Hole in my Shoe’

“It was this, and a song called ‘Kites’ by Simon Dupree and the Big Sound. It was in 1967 and I would have been nine. I didn’t know who they were by or what they were, but I remember the talking bits on those records and the slightly strange sound. It sounds like music from another world – it beckons you into a strange land. They had a profound effect on me at a very young age, before I even knew that music was going to be my thing.”

The first album I owned

Black Sabbath – ‘Master of Reality’

“I think it was 1971 and I bought it for £1, second hand off a guy at school called Pete. My recollection is that my dad went halves with me – so 50p each. I’ve got a lot of time for Black Sabbath. It’s almost impossible to overstate their influence on rock music. I’m quite proud of that as a first choice.”

The first gig I went to

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David Bowie at Manchester Hard Rock, 28 December 1972

“I kind of hit a bullseye. What a start. I remember it vividly, it was £1 to stand up and £1.75 to sit down and we paid £1.25 and stood up anyway. It was just unbelievable that he was in the same room as us. It was just inexplicable. I just couldn’t get it straight in my head that he was actually there. Woody Woodmansey was on the drums, two silver-mounted tom-toms. I can remember his sort of lacquered helmeted hair. I remember they started with ‘Let’s Spend the Night Together’. It was such a thrill.”

The song that reminds me of home

Andy Williams – ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off You’

“This one reminds me of my mum, who is still alive. She loves Andy Williams. His voice is one you often heard in our house. He was one of the great popular singers and I think he gets less respect than he deserves. I know Sinatra is the bulk of those things, and you hear a lot about people like Tony Bennett and Sammy Davis Jnr. but I think Andy Williams is a better singer than a lot of those guys. Had a real honey tone to his voice.”

The song that changed my life

T. Rex – ‘Jeepster’

“In 1971 he released ‘Jeepster’ and ‘Get it On’. And even though my favourite of his singles would probably be ‘Metal Guru’, I’ll go for ‘Jeepster’ because that music really woke me up. It was the start of glam rock. It was the first music that seemed to be for me, not for people’s older brothers or dads. Led Zeppelin and Bob Dylan and all those things had been around for a while. It’s just simple, raw rock ‘n’ roll – guitar, bass and drums. I think for a time Marc Bolan was the golden boy. He was everything a pop star should be.”

The song I want played at my funeral

Nick Drake – ‘Northern Sky’

“I thought about my funeral because I did have cancer. I didn’t think I was going to die, but you do at least start to acknowledge the reality and the possibility of it. I love Nick Drake‘s music and it’s sad he wasn’t acknowledged in his lifetime. To me, ‘Northern Sky’ seems to say something about myself. I hear it and feel an affinity with it somehow.”

The song I do at karaoke

Elvis Presley – ‘The Wonder of You’

“There’s no point going to karaoke and doing ‘Exit Music (For a Film)’ by Radiohead is there? I’m sure even Radiohead wouldn’t try that. This is just a cracker. It’s just unbeatable as a karaoke song. I’ve done it many times. It’s a song everybody loves. I’m a big Elvis fan. I mean, what right-minded person isn’t? If you like pop music. And it’s just a great one to power out and it’s one that everybody joins in. It’s an absolute crowd pleaser, and a lovely sentiment. It’s a euphoric thing.”

The song I’ve rediscovered during lockdown

Chet Baker – ‘My Funny Valentine’

“During lockdown, I’ve been doing quite a lot of writing, sitting in a little room, looking out over the trees. I’ve been listening to Chet Baker, which is not necessarily always my thing, but I just like the muted ambiance of his trumpet. I find it kind of mournful and it helps me to think somehow.”

Mark Radcliffe is part of the team fronting ‘The Glastonbury Experience’ – the BBC’s celebration of Glastonbury Festival across TV, iPlayer, Radio and Sounds from June 25-29. He also hosts shows on 6 Music and Radio 2

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