Time To Listen: Jo Brand reveals the 5 songs that shaped her life

Including David Bowie, Kate Bush and Bob Dylan

Jo Brand
Author: Scott ColothanPublished 29th Nov 2019

The latest star to feature on Absolute Radio’s series Time To Listen is comedy icon Jo Brand.

Time To Listen explores music’s positive impact on our mental health and, during Danielle Perry’s evening show from 7pm on Monday to Thursday, a guest celebrity picks a song each day that has made a difference to their lives.

A special omnibus half-hour show with all of their choices from throughout the week, plus an extra fifth choice, airs each week in The Sunday Night Music Club from 8pm.

Coinciding with her appearance at Absolute Radio Live in aid of Stand Up To Cancer, Jo Brand dropped in Absolute Radio HQ to discuss the 5 songs that mean the most to her.

Listen to Jo Brand on Time To Listen here:

Jo Brand follows in the footsteps of Tom Walker, U2’s Adam Clayton, Sam Fender, Skunk Anansie’s Skin and Ultravox’s Midge Ure who have all appeared on Time To Listen in recent weeks.

Jo Brand’s five song choices are as follows:

David Bowie ‘Five Years’ (1972)

“The reason I thought of it is because it’s a song that’s always had a massive effect on me. It’s just kind of a really dystopian vision of things going horribly wrong. I’m afraid I am a bit of a catastrophist on the quiet. I do kind of worry about the future and how things are going to be. But, I also think it’s a song that very easily sums up a feeling that goes on inside your head when you’re worrying about something. My favourite line of all time in a song is ‘my brain hurt like a warehouse’. I just love that because it conjures up an image for me of so much stuff crammed into your head that’s jostling for position that you can’t quite cope with it. And I think modern life very much like that.”

Bob Dylan ‘Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door’ (1973)

“The song that reminds me of significant people in my life is ‘Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door’ by Bob Dylan. This reminds me of my dad who died last year and there’s just a lovely story about him. He heard this song on the radio, he had no idea what it was called or who it was by, and he went into a record shop – because it was a long time ago – and he tried to explain to them what it was and they made him sing it to them. Like an old bloke! (laughs) And they went ‘oh yeah alright mate, we know what that is’. But he only wanted the single and they actually sold him the album, and he didn’t want the album because he didn’t like anything else on it. But bless him, he got it.

“My dad suffered from depression for most of his life, probably from the age of 12, and he didn’t actually do anything about it until he was in his mid-50s. That was a lot to do with the stigma (around) men particularly suffering from mental health problems. I think it’s much easier these days, but I still think that a lot of men are reluctant to admit they need help and I think we just need to keep pushing that.”

Van Morrison ‘Bright Side of the Road’ (1979)

“The song that always puts me in a good mood is ‘Bright Side of the Road’ by Van Morrison. It’s a fantastic tune, it’s very up and, orchestrally, it sounds really lovely and positive. It’s all very much about the future, how stuff’s getting better and to a greater extent it’s also about falling in love with someone. But I also think you can just use it as a happy song to cheer you up really. And also fabulously ironic because obviously Van Morrison has a reputation for not being the cheeriest person in the world shall we say?! I’ve met him, he seemed perfectly cheery to me but there you go! I just think he’s an absolutely fantastic songwriter and this really makes me in a good mood.”

10cc ‘I’m Not In Love’ (1975)

“The song from my past that I associate with a major life change is ‘I’m Not In Love’ by 10cc. The reason I actually associate it with that period was because it was in the charts for such a long time. It was kind of like the theme tune to my life, and I’d just been thrown out of home – I was 16, nearly 17 – and I moved into a bedsit on my own and I had to leave school; well actually I went back to school one day a week and got a job four days a week in the Civil Service, and just basically looked after myself. Although stuff at home had been really awful and my dad was impossible to live with – we didn’t get on at all – it was really quite lonely on my own because I didn’t know how to live on my own. So, a lot of the time this song would come drifting through the atmosphere. Although I wasn’t in love particularly with anyone at the time, it did really set a mood for me and I was kind of a miserable for quite a long time.”

Kate Bush ‘And Dream of Sheep’ (1985)

“If I could only listen to one song for the rest of my life it would be ‘And Dream of Sheep’ by Kate Bush. I think it’s an absolutely beautiful song and the sentiment I think is kind of really important because it’s all about really kind of being on your own in the middle of nowhere in the dark. That to me is a kind of metaphor in many ways for suffering from depression or feeling really lonely or feeling on your own and you can’t sort your problems out. She talks about in the song of being rescued, and, in fact, listening to friendly voices on the radio, which for me has always been a big thing. I listen to a lot of radio at night and I think a lot of people do who live on their own because it actually comes into their head and makes them feel like they’re not totally on their own. It’s a beautiful song, I absolutely love Kate Bush’s work and it really sums up loneliness and hope for me.”

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