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Baker's Dozen

Survival Songs: John Grant's Baker's Dozen
Barnaby Smith , September 8th, 2021 09:05

John Grant takes tQ through the 13 albums that have defined his life and guided him through tough times, from the beauty of Fad Gadget to the joy of Bernard Fevre, via Ennio Morricone, Kate Bush and more


Talk Talk – The Colour of Spring

This is one of those albums that just takes you on a journey from start to finish, from the beginning with ‘Happiness is Easy’ to the end with ‘Time It’s Time’, which is one of my favourite tracks. ‘Happiness is Easy’ has this drum solo that goes on forever at the beginning, and then strummed acoustic guitar comes in, and it’s such an incredibly beautiful moment in music. This was 1986 and I remember listening to this with my best buddy at the time, David. He was really into REM, who I love too, but he considered what he was into to be real music and what I listened to as stupid. But he thought this was worthy of his attention, which pleased me greatly.

I didn’t know what Mark Hollis was singing about, but I thought it pertained to me. There are these flourishes of harp and all these other beautiful moments – it’s a masterpiece. They were in between their experimental phase and their pure pop records. It’s a mixture of those two worlds before they went on to make Spirit of Eden, which everybody says is their favourite. But this one is my favourite, so everybody else can fuck off.

You talk about discovering several of these albums in the context of close friendships. Are you still in touch with these people?

Yeah, and we email from time to time and we talk about these things. In regards to David, I’ve recently done some emailing with Michael Stipe. David worshipped them and was always saying “REM saved lives.” So now I’m back and forth with Michael Stipe and David is like, “What the fuck happened to your life?” And it’s quite special for me too – I have to pretend I don’t give a shit when I’m talking to Michael Stipe, because a lot of those guys don’t want to hear it. They’ve heard it all.

Is it similar with your friendship with Elton John?

He’s very gracious about letting you talk about how much he’s meant to you, but it’s not something you do very often. He doesn’t want you to go on about it, but of course it delights him. He likes knowing he had a big effect on your life. For me it was Yellow Brick Road, which should also be on this list, but I’m afraid I can’t today.