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Baker's Dozen

Coming Back To Beauty: Kevin Rowland's Favourite Music
Fergal Kinney , August 19th, 2020 08:16

Kevin Rowland guides Fergal Kinney through the songs that saved him, from self-discovery as a musician through the saving grace of music in recovery from drug addiction. Rowland portrait by Eliza Hill.


George Benson - 'The Greatest Love Of All'
In 1990, I was trying to stop taking cocaine. I went down the West Country to take a break, and was trying to get off cocaine and stay off cocaine. And listening to this track in the car, I really heard it for the first time and found myself crying. I had no idea why, I hadn’t cried in decades. I didn’t know what the fuck was going on.

Three years later I went into recovery, and that made me reevaluate everything in my life really – what happened, what didn’t happen. I was completely lost, didn’t know who I was, where I was or what was going on. So certain songs, they made more sense to me than anything else at that point. When I heard the 'Greatest Love Of All', I just felt so dirty inside. I was clearly addicted to coke, my life was in a real fucking mess, and the song was just the complete opposite of what my life was like. These songs helped me find my way back – no, not back, but to something different. 

I've always found the altered lyrics in 'Labelled With Love' to be probably the most stark moment on the entire record.

That was my life man, that was my life. I was living in a squat and it was fucking dark. You’d get electric shocks from turning the switch on too slowly, it was all wired up to bypass the meter. I was in absolute misery and the only relief I got was when I’d take cocaine and even that stopped working. Occasionally I might try to go out, and try to be normal, but I wasn’t normal. I was trying to get off drugs and go to the gym. I joined a religion - the Brahma Kumaris. It was amazing at first. I saw them putting up posters so I went. I saw that the course was stress management, and I thought well I feel completely fucking stressed. So I walked into this place, it was all white, it was all peaceful and clean. And it was just the opposite to what my life was like. I did this course that was free and I got onto some more courses.

They were telling me that the world was going to end soon, that we’re now in the Iron Age and that we’ll die but re-enter into the Golden Age. So I need to give up meat, fish, cigarettes, drink, drugs, onions and garlic – because they make you randy – and take a vow of celibacy. I was so hooked that I tried to do it, and I was wearing white all the time. I got into the whole thing, you have this thing at 6am every morning where you go, you sit there, and these words come from God and you meditate. And I tried to live that lifestyle, but it didn’t work.