Soundtrack Of My Life: Bill Bailey

Furry funnyman on the songs that matter to him.

The first song I fell in love with


Elvis Costello – ‘Shipbuilding’

“Now I know this is a cover version that Robert Wyatt wrote, but the Elvis Costello version has this extraordinary, haunting trumpet solo. It was the first time that I really appreciated the depth of the subject matter and the lyrics. It was quite a profound subject about the [Falklands] War and about shipbuilding and the terrible irony that the War encouraged the shipbuilding industry. These are all quite deep subjects and it was politicising and quite profound but also it’s a beautiful, haunting song, so it was something that had a real deep impact on me.”


The first song I remember hearing

The Wurzels – ‘The Combine Harvester’

“I seem to remember it getting quite a heavy rotation on radio at the time and being from the West Country it was almost compulsory to listen to The Wurzels. They were somewhat local heroes and it was a great novelty to hear a song sung with a West Country accent.”

The first album I bought

The Pretenders – Pretenders

“I think I bought the Pretenders album, as in The Pretenders’ ‘Pretenders’ album, the iconic album. This was probably down to the single ‘Brass In Pocket’, which is still now one of my favourites of that time.”


The first gig I went to

The Stranglers

“It was at the Labour Club in Bath where I grew up and it was thrilling, exciting, dangerous. At one point Jean-Jacques Burnel took his bass off and started whacking skinheads over the head with it. I thought, ‘This is the most exciting thing I’ll probably ever experience.’ When I met him on [Never Mind The] Buzzcocks, I told him about this gig and I thought he would just say, ‘What? Can’t remember that,’ but he said, ‘I remember it really well’. He goes, ‘Some skinhead gave a Nazi salute and I wasn’t having that,’ so he took his bass off and really slapped down that horrible, terrible gesture of violence.”

The song I do at karaoke

Ramones – ‘I Wanna Be Sedated’

“I try to channel the spirit of the Ramones. It’s not bad, it’ll pass in a bar.”

The song that made me want to perform

John Hegley – ‘Eddie Don’t Like Furniture’

“It was a song by John Hegley, who’s a brilliant comedian and poet. I saw him perform his own song ‘Eddie Don’t Like Furniture’ on the mandolin and it was so wonderful and surreal and beautifully played, I just thought, ‘This is what I want to do.’”

The song that changed my life

The Special AKA – ‘Free Nelson Mandela’

“Up to that point I don’t think I’d heard something that was overtly as political. I was just a feckless youth, I didn’t really know much about anything. This was such a powerful and direct call to arms. It made me investigate more, it made me find out more, and it certainly made me think, ‘I have to find out more about the world I’m in.’ So for that I’m very grateful.”

The song I want played my funeral

The Doors – ‘The End’


“I’ve always thought that you want something jolly, because it’s a pretty grim occasion, so you’d wanna try and counteract that with some jolly piece of music. But I’ve been to funerals where that’s actually happened and somehow it makes it more impossibly poignant. So, I’m gonna try and split the difference and go for ‘The End’ by The Doors.”

Bill Bailey’s Larks In Transit tour is on now across the UK until June 9