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Baker's Dozen

Time Portals: Sophie Ellis-Bextor's Favourite Albums
Fergal Kinney , January 27th, 2021 10:25

After cheering up the nation with her lockdown kitchen discos, Sophie Ellis-Bextor takes Fergal Kinney through her 13 favourite albums, from Blur to Madonna, Paul Simon and Fleetwood Mac and musicals


Paul Simon – Graceland
Overwhelmingly, this is an image of my mum singing along in the car. My mum used to listen to Paul Simon a lot, and I could have picked any one of his albums but this is such a soundtrack of this time. My mum and I were together on our own a lot, it was the three years in between her divorcing my dad and marrying my stepdad, and music was a big part of our relationship. I think Paul Simon is someone who I always turn to if I want really classic songwriting, his writing is incredible – he's got such a turn of phrase, they can go from poetic to profound with humour in there, very conversational. I saw him in Hyde Park with the whole family a couple of years ago and it was great. There's so many songs of his I adore.

I enjoyed your interview with your mum on your Spinning Plates podcast, having such a frank and structured conversation about parenting with your own parent must have been odd...

I was really nervous before doing that. You know, it's mum – how do you introduce a formality to something that's so intimate? I'm glad I did it because it was nice to reflect, so much of how I live my life directly comes from my mum, and she set the template for me being a working mother so I couldn't have done a podcast series about that without talking to her. We are really close but it doesn't mean we ever sit there and reflect, there's always something to talk about like the here and now, so just thinking back to her being a single parent or hearing her say she sometimes felt guilty – that was quite a revelation to me, because she always seemed so brilliantly unapologetic about living the life she did with me in tow. It's taken extra poignancy in a year where, shortly after recording it, we weren't allowed to see each other for ages, and my step-dad died in July. My mum and John had just the happiest relationship, completely supported each other, always wanted to do things together – there's still lots of plans that they had, that sadly they won't get to do now. My mum said that when you're together a long time, part of you sees each other just as the age you were when you first met. I think that happens in friendships too, it isn't just romantic love. It's not a coincidence that when you see your sibling you revert back to the dynamic of when you were little. I think that happens a bit with music too, it's like this time portal.