Soundtrack Of My Life: Bobby Gillespie
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  • Post published:03/07/2021
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FeaturesMusic Interviews

Soundtrack Of My Life: Bobby Gillespie

Primal Scream frontman and country music scholar

By Alex Flood

Bobby Gillespie

The first song I remember hearing

The Beatles – ‘She Loves You’

“It would’ve been on the radio in my mum’s flat in Glasgow. My parents have a tape of me singing it somewhere, but it’s possibly been lost. I was about three and the Beatles films were always on TV during the school holiday – even way into the ’70s. They’d always show A Hard Day’s Night and Help!, but they didn’t mean much to me to be honest. We might have had one single but I didn’t know anything about their story. I knew they were a famous pop group but to me they were film stars. I didn’t really know the difference between The Monkees and The Beatles.”

The first song I fell in love with


The Move – ‘Fire Brigade’

“This was one of the first times I was conscious of music… I thought it was exciting, it put an image in my head of a burning building. It had bells ringing at the start of it too. I couldn’t have put a face to the record at the time, I just remember liking the sound on the radio.”

The first record I bought

Sweet – ‘Hell Raiser’

“I remember buying it from Soundtrack Records on Cathcart Road, Mount Florida in Glasgow. It was amazing in there. Right at the bottom of my street growing up. I saw my dad the other day and the owner’s funeral card was sticking out of the glove compartment in his car. I didn’t even know he knew him! He was a cool guy, dressed like a psychedelic rocker from the ’60s. Most of my records then were ones I’d borrowed off mates. But this guy tolerated me being in there, looking through the racks at David Bowie, asking him questions – even though I’d only occasionally buy anything.”

The first album I was obsessed with


The Who – ‘The Story of The Who’

“It was the first time I thought about buying a whole album rather than just the single (which was ‘Substitute’). I’d borrowed this compilation album ‘Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy’, so I was already into The Who. But this album had an exploding pinball machine on the cover and it looked really exciting. When you opened it up it had a booklet inside with loads of amazing pictures of them as mods. At the time, I didn’t know what mods were but I saved up enough pocket money and soon found out.”

The first gig I went to

Thin Lizzy at Glasgow Apollo in October 1976

“It was the ‘Johnny the Fox’ tour. It blew my teenage brain to bits. My favourite tracks were ‘The Boys are Back in Town’ and ‘Don’t Believe a Word’.”

The song that reminds me of home

The Corries – ‘Flower Of Scotland’

“I was singing it the other night at Hampden Park during the game against Croatia. There were fucking tens of thousands of us all bellowing it. I remember when the Tartan Army adopted it in the late ’70s. I used to go to all the home internationals at Hampden Park when I was a teenager and my dad had it on tape (‘The Corries Live’) – he liked folk music you see. It just became this song that everyone would sing on the terraces. Now it’s the national anthem of the entire country.”

The song I wish I’d written

James Carr – ‘The Dark End Of The Street’

“It was written by Dan Penn and Chips Moman. Many people have covered it: Aretha Franklin, Ry Cooder, Clarence Carter. It might be the best song ever written. It’s both a celebration of carnal transgression and also investigates Christian shame and guilt. Especially in the Deep South, they’re obsessed with the sins of the flesh. These writers like Penn were brought up within the Black Baptist tradition or the white Presbyterian tradition so they were influenced a lot by these ‘fire and brimstone’ preachers. That dynamic is what I love about country music and American soul. There’s this real need to transgress but also an acknowledgement that a sin can be destructive to somebody’s life. This song encapsulates all of that.”

The song I can’t get out of my head

Charlie Rich – ‘Rollin With The Flow’

“Me and my mates used to get stoned in the ’90s and listen to Charlie Rich. The lyrics are brilliant: ‘Once was a thought inside my head / Fore I’d reach 30 I’d be dead / Now somehow on and on I go-o-o / I keep on rolling with the flow‘. It’s a middle-aged waistrel’s song of defiance. I’ve just been reading a book about Waylon Jennings and, man, these country guys were hard-living you know. Fucking hell.”

The song I do at karaoke

Elton John – ‘Don’t Go Breaking My Heart’ (with Kiki Dee)

“I tried this once with my wife. But karaoke’s very hard if you do it for a living. My wife kept telling me I was taking it too seriously. And she’s right! The music is always in the wrong key for someone like me to sing it and the muscle memory always means I have to sing it the best I can. Meanwhile the person you’re dueting with is all over the place.”

The song I want played at my funeral

Charlie Rich – ‘I Feel Like Going Home’

“I think about this all the time. The lyrics go something like this: ‘Lord I feel like going home / I tried and failed and I’m tired and weary / Everything I ever done was wrong / And I feel like going home / Lord I tried to see it through / But it was too much for me / And now I’m coming home to you / And I feel like going home / Cloudy skies are rolling in / And not a friend around to help me / From all the places I have been / And I feel like going home‘. I’ve got another idea that’s a bit more fun and everybody could dance to it. But some fucker will steal it off me so I’ll keep it to myself.”

Bobby Gillespie and Jehnny Beth’s new album ‘Utopian Ashes’ is out now on Third Man Records

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