Soundtrack Of My Life: Bryan Cranston

Bryan Cranston AKA Walter White AKA Heisenberg talks dramatic readings of ‘Brandy’ and channelling his inner Dustin Hoffman

The Song That Makes Me Want To Dance
George Strait – ‘I Just Want To Dance With You’
“I was listening to this country song by George Strait while writing a screenplay set in the old country. It helped me stay in that mood and my daughter was very young at the time so I’d pick her up and swing her round doing our dance to that song.”

The First Song I Fell In Love With
Simon & Garfunkel – ‘Mrs. Robinson’
“I was much too young but I’d just seen The Graduate. Oh my God! I was amazed by its overt sexuality and, being so young, I related to Dustin Hoffman’s character and the world of seduction he entered. That song was popular when I was 12 and was playing when I was trying to pluck up the courage to ask a girl out. But he who hesitates loses and sure enough another guy came over, asked her to dance and they were on their way. It was crushing!”

The First Gig I Went To
B.B. King
“When I was a kid a friend’s Dad worked in the music business and got us tickets to see blues legend B.B. King. I couldn’t believe the artistry of his musicianship. It was mind-boggling what he could do with a guitar. He played ‘Lucille’ and ‘The Thrill Is Gone’ and just wailed on that thing.”

The Album That Changed My Life
The Beatles – ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’
“I was 11 years old when ‘Sgt. Pepper’s’ came out and that blew my mind. I thought: ‘Can they actually do this? This is The Beatles, right?’ It was incredibly bold to take on characters with their music. I was exploring too, as a young actor doing plays and theatre. I didn’t then realise that bands could take on personas and go into a completely different realm to what I was familiar with. When I listen to it now it’s still amazing.”

The First Song I Remember Hearing
Peggy Lee – ‘Is That All There Is?’
“I had some troubled years growing up and unfortunately my mother started drinking after my father left. She had a song by Peggy Lee that she played a lot, which completely highlighted the point of her life at that moment – “If that’s all there is / Let’s break out the booze…” If you listen to it, it’s such a slow, depressing spiral. I remember hating that song when I was young but I’ve since come to see it as an honest depiction of how my mother was feeling. It’s emotional still.”

The Song That Reminds Me Of Home
Billy Joel – ‘Scenes From An Italian Restaurant’
“When I’m listening to classic jazz from the likes of Miles Davis, its roots in America bring me home. But Billy Joel’s songs remind me of my early years in New York and what a fun time that was.”

The Song I Do At Karaoke
Looking Glass – ‘Brandy’
“I realised recently I’ve never done karaoke so I don’t have a go-to. But my instinct would be to make it funny… “They say, ‘Brandy, you’re a fine girl / What a good wife you would be!’” Remember that one? It was a big hit for Looking Glass in the early ’70s. I’d have to pick a song like that, with a story to it, and perform it like a dramatic reading.”