Soundtrack Of My Life: Garbage’s Shirley Manson On MIA And Having The Weeknd On Repeat

This summer marks 20 years since Garbage’s scintillating debut album – but what songs made singer Shirley Manson who she is today? We caught up with her to find out…

The First Song I Remember Hearing
‘White Horses’ theme, Jacky: “It’s the theme tune to a 1970s TV show about a
girl called Julia. It’s absolutely gorgeous. That was the first 7-inch that I ever bought because it was the first song that I can remember falling madly, obsessively in love with. It’s an incredible melody. The girl who sings it has the most beautiful voice; alien and clear and beautiful. It’s basically a song of escape.”


The First Album I Bought

‘The Rise And Fall of Ziggy Stardust…’, David Bowie:“It was something that I remember hearing at one of my girlfriends’ houses and I just couldn’t believe it existed. Everything about it, from the way it sounded to the lyrical content that I didn’t really understand – I felt it before I understood it. I’d say it’s still my favourite record of all time. I was probably about 13 when I got it from Ripping Records in Edinburgh.”

The Song That Made Me Want To Make Music

‘Stray Cat Strut’, Stray Cats: “I have real memories of air guitaring and singing into a canister of deodorant and I remember feeling strongly that I was a member of the Stray Cats. One of the elder sisters of my friends was this really glamorous rockabillygirl, she was just the coolest. She had the coolest hair, the coolest clothes, she went out with a boxer – they were filmed by Bruce Weber. I was kind of obsessed with her and therefore I fell into loving rockabilly music.”


The Song I Can No Longer Listen To

‘I’m Only A Poor Little Sparrow’, The Ramblers: “I absolutely hated that song and it was everywhere. It was on Top Of The Pops every week – every time I turned on it seemed it was on. I hated it and I still hate it. It drives me insane.”

The Song I Do At Karaoke

‘Bad Girls’, MIA: “This is so sad, I’ve never done karaoke in my life. I’ve never even been in the position where I’ve been around karaoke. I’ve never even had a sniff of a karaoke bar and I’m desperate to get behind the mic at any opportunity! I’d like to do ‘Bad Girls’ by MIA though. I love that song. I think MIA is pretty unique and special.”

The Song That Makes Me Want To Dance

‘I Will Survive’, Gloria Gaynor: “I don’t go on the dancefloor anymore because people stare at me and it’s really embarrassing. First of all my friends really laugh at me when I do because they know I’m really drunk, and secondly, there’s usually someone in the club who knows the band and then they try to dance with you which is really, really creepy or they ask you for an autograph in the middle of a dancefloor and that’s problematic. The last time I danced at a wedding was about five years ago and I danced all night in high heels and when I woke up the next day I could barely move!”

The Song I Can’t Get Out Of Your Head

‘Earned It’, The Weeknd: “I love it. I love The Weeknd, I think he’s massively talented. I don’t know what it is but I just can’t stop singing it.”

The Song I Wish I’d Written

‘Why D’ya Do It’, Marianne Faithfull: “It’s such a great story. She’s basically speaking to her lover saying, “why did you cheat on me?”. The lyrical brilliance is so spiteful and ingenious that I just wish I’d written that song. It’s so incredible. I admire her immensely.”

The Song I Want Played At My Funeral

‘Dido’s Lament’ from Dido and Aeneas, Henry Purcell: “I had to perform it for my higher music [exam], and then later on I went to a Smiths concert and they played it as their opening music. It’s incredibly beautiful and tragic and sad as she sings ‘remember me but forget my fate’. It’s so gothic and brilliant and overly dramatic. It’s perfect for me.”

The Song That Reminds Her Of Starting Garbage

‘Suffocate Me’, Angelfish: “Am I allowed to self-reference? It would be a song by my band before Garbage, Angelfish. It got played on MTV in America once at like, one in the morning and that’s how I got a phone call from America saying ‘these guys are interested in making a record from you’. So every time I hear that song and I hear the guitar intro to it, it reminds of that really incredibly exciting moment in my life. It’s sort of dark and a little gothic.”