“My life would be very different without the fall”: Stewart Lee’s honest playlist | Music


The first song I remember hearing
during the holidays with my mother in Majorca. I remember sitting by a few candles in the dark by a lake, and this Spanish guitarist playing Joaquín Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez. It wasn’t until my twenties listening to Sketches of Spain by Miles Davis, which contains the same concerto, that I realized what it was.

The first single I bought
I remember enjoying the Rubettes’ Sugar Baby Love on Top Of The Pops in 1974, so my mum walked me to Woolworths on Stratford Road in Shirley. Years later I was playing in a small room at the Wycombe Swan Theatre. The Rubettes and Alvin Stardust were in the main room, and I stole the Rubettes’ sandwiches, because we didn’t have our own catering.

The song I do at karaoke
Roger Miller’s King of the Road really swings so anyone can handle it, plus it has stand-up comedy timing. Furthermore, I a m king of the road!

The best song to play at a party
There’s a six-minute version of Snoop Dogg’s song Gin & Juice by this great hillbilly band called the Gourds. At first people think, “What is this garbage?” then Snoop Dogg crawls. It’s really dancing with a good mandolin break.

The song I secretly love but tell everyone I hate
So many blokey songs like Don Henley’s The Boys of Summer felt massively overproduced in the 80s, but I listen to them now with a real sense of nostalgia.

The song I can’t listen to anymore
Unfortunately, Morrissey. Lots of artists end up doing terrible things, but the Smiths meant so much to my generation, drifting it to the far right is wrong. I remember hearing How Soon Is Now when I went to see the Smiths at the Birmingham Hippodrome and danced to them at a nightclub in Tucson, Arizona in 1995. It’s hard to let go of my childhood attachment to the Smiths, but I don’t know how to reconcile Morrissey’s solo stuff with what he’s become.

The best song for making love
The entire Public Castration Is a Good Idea double album by Swans.

The song that changed my life
I grew up listening to John Peel, but found the drop irritating, repetitive and unintelligible. Eventually, due to the weight of attrition, I heard I’m in CB and something clicked, and I became a lifelong fan. They broadened my horizons as I learned more about the people their lyrics alluded to, like Franz Kafka, and I listened to their influences like the Velvet Underground. My life would have been very different without Mark E Smith. I don’t know if I would have studied English at university, or even become an actor.


The song that wakes me up in the morning
Guided By Voices make about six albums a year and have been around since the mid-80s. They’ve written hundreds of songs and Glad Girls will wake you up in the morning.

The song I want to play at my funeral
Sean Hughes’ funeral was a lot of fun. He had Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now by the Smiths, so I could copy that, or have Giant Sand’s country rock version of Is That All There Is? by Peggy Lee.

Stewart Lee: Snowflake and Tornado airs September 4 and 11 on BBC Two. Basic Lee is at the Leicester Square Theatre, London, from September 28 to December 17. See stewartlee.co.uk

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