Baker's Dozen

Artists discuss the 13 records that shaped their lives

“Music Is The Best It’s Ever Been” Sathnam Sanghera’s Favourite Songs

Ahead of his appearance at this month's Green Man Festival, Sathnam Sanghera talks Tara Joshi through his favourite music, from Goldfrapp to Dave and Massive Attack, Sly, George Michael, Prince, Bally Sagoo and much more

Sathnam Sanghera portrait by Fred Windsor-Clive

“Music was my first love, really,” journalist and author Sathnam Sanghera says over a video call, “But my taste was probably a bit ropey… All my music I came across was via the radio in my bedroom – I guess as a child of immigrants, I felt I was at the mercy of radio. I wasn’t allowed to go to raves, and I couldn’t afford to buy records.” The Wolverhampton–born British–Punjabi writer explains how his parents didn’t listen to music aside from the occasional bit of Bollywood, and so he often felt at the mercy of his siblings’ taste in music, along with the radio. His first writing gig was entering a radio competition which asked participants to send in an essay on how to heal the world; he won, and the prize was getting to see Michael Jackson perform at the Superbowl. Later, he briefly reported on the music industry for theFT early in his career.

Now, music is something he listens to voraciously as he writes on family, politics, and the history of the British Empire. “I keep a list of my favourite songs, but it changes every week,” he explains of his Baker’s Dozen, “I’ll collect new songs I’m addicted to and listen to them ‘til I’m sick of them.” This list, then, is a representation of that – a set of songs which broadly mean a lot to Sanghera in his life (even if they might not have been exactly this selection if we’d spoken a week later). 

Sathnam Sanghera’s Empireland is out now. He appears on the Talking Shop literary stage at this year’s Green Man Festival – for more information, go here. Please click the image below to begin reading Sathnam’s selections

First Record

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