Soundtrack Of My Life: Kathleen Hanna

The Bikini Kill, Le Tigre and The Julie Ruin legend talks about motivation from Mary J Blige and performing ‘Away In A Manger’ to her dog

The song I want played at my funeral
Carole King- ‘Way Over Yonder’
“‘Tapestry’ was a game-changer for me when I was, like, six years old. In my fantasy, Beth Ditto sings it. She’d crush that song.”


The first song I fell in love with
The Jackson 5 – ‘Dancing Machine’
“I played the 45 version over and over. I imagined Michael was singing about me as I danced for, like, hours, to the same song. When the school bell rang all I thought was: I gotta play ‘Dancing Machine’.”

The song that makes me want to dance
Mary J Blige – ‘Family Affair’
“This was Le Tigre’s warm-up song and it helped us from slipping off the edge. When Mary tells you to get your ass on the dancefloor and leave the drama behind, you really do need to drop everything.”

The song I can’t get out of my head
The Archies – ‘Sugar, Sugar’
“I sampled the Archies once because I figured we couldn’t get in trouble since they were cartoon characters and cartoon characters don’t know how to sue people. Luckily, my bandmate clued me in about samples and we rewrote it.”


The song I do at karaoke
Dolly Parton- – ‘I Will Always Love You’
“I used to be a karaoke host when I lived in Olympia, Washington, and sang it as my goodbye song the day before I left town. I also used to do the Clash’s ‘Should I Stay Or Should I Go’ but changed the words to ‘Am I good karaoke host now?’ I’m sure that’s total sacrilege in many people’s eyes but the crowd loved it. Or at least I pretended they did.”

The first album I bought
The Rolling Stones – ‘Some Girls’
“It was a birthday present for my sister and she never let me listen to it! I only bought 45s for myself and the first one I got with my own money was ‘Party Music’ by Q.”

The song I wish I’d written
George Jones – ‘He Stopped Loving Her Today’
“It unfolds as a narrative and each verse changes the meaning of each chorus. If you change just few words it could easily be about domestic violence and it would be the saddest song ever written.”

The song that made me want to make music
Andrea McArdle – ‘Maybe [from Annie]’
“I sang along to that song so much that I got the lead in the school play and sang it onstage to a stuffed dog.”

The song I can no longer listen to
The Rolling Stones – ‘Under My Thumb’
“A boy who was mad at me played it on repeat while I sat crying. I didn’t even know how unbelievably sexist it was – I just knew it hurt my feelings.”

The first song I remember hearing
Traditional – ‘Away In A Manger’
“I know it’s so not cool, but it stood out from the other holiday songs at school because it sounded so super-depressing. I learned the words and performed it in our bay window, pretending there was an audience there, but it was just my dog watching. I think it freaked her out.”

The Julie Ruin’s new album ‘Hit Reset’ is out now