The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website

Baker's Dozen

Versions 13.0: Shirley Manson's Favourite Albums
Elizabeth Aubrey , June 6th, 2018 10:19

In a satisfyingly forthright Baker's Dozen, Garbage singer Shirley Manson argues for boycotting un-gender-balanced festivals, explores Scottish sonic pride, discovering the finger-banging potential of listening to The Clash and says a life without misery is incomplete. All that plus enthusiastic recollections of music from Nick Cave, Patti Smith, The Stone Roses and more


Patti Smith Group - Wave
I'm a huge Patti Smith fan; if ever there was an artist who continues to inspire me through decade after decade, it would be Patti Smith. I really hold her in the highest of regard – a woman who has never compromised, has never sold herself for commerciality or success: I admire her so much for that. 

I guess I picked Wave because my absolute favourite Patti Smith song is on that record: 'Revenge'. I could have easily picked Horses which I feel has been talked about a million times before but I always feel like Wave just doesn't really get quite the same love. 'Revenge' is just a song that I turn to over and over when I feel furious [laughs]. 'Kimberly' is on there too and I covered that with my middle band, Angelfish.  

I [first discovered Smith] when I was in Goodbye Mr Mackenzie and the lead singer was always introducing me to amazing music. He said: "I really think you should check out Patti Smith, I think you'd really love her," before giving me Horses. I took it home and played it on my old record player and just fell insanely in love. 

I love the androgynous sound of her voice and her power. I'd always been looking for non-conforming female voices and she embodied it; I found it in her. 

She's also never let me down. You know how you can fall in love with artists and sometimes they leave you out in the cold as their careers continue – they maybe decide to sell themselves cheap, or they fall by the wayside or they can't get their shit together. There's a million and one reasons why artists can let us down but I've never felt let down by her. She remains an incredible beacon for me and someone I always turn to – whether it's her music or her writing or her performances; she fills me with awe. 

And you eventually got to perform on the same line up as her…

I had never seen Patti Smith perform until we shared a stage with her – she actually opened for Garbage. I was so embarrassed and so shocked that the music business was so ridiculous that we were top of the bill and Patti Smith was opening for us. It taught me a great lesson, actually, about what popular success is and what actually it means to be an artist with longevity. It was a humbling lesson and one which I was very aware of at the time and very embarrassed about. 

She was, of course, as gracious as you would expect her to be. I got to meet her and I burst into tears [laughs]. But it was the first time I had ever seen her actually physically perform – that was the first time I'd ever seen her in the flesh.