Soundtrack Of My Life: Greg Davies

Comedian and Taskmaster. Find him singing Barbra Streisand in his dreams

The first song I remember hearing

Roger Whittaker – ‘Google Eye’

“The whistling folk singer’s song about a mystical dragon was either the first song I remember hearing or the first single I owned. It was definitely my first single and it’s an insane song. I can still sing it now [Greg recites the chorus immaculately].”

The first song I fell in love with


Ian Dury And The Blockheads – ‘Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick’

“This was the first bit of music that felt like it was for me and not for the other people who played me music. Even my parents, who were relatively young at the time, didn’t really understand the song’s appeal or why I found him singing ‘Je t’adore/Ich liebe dich‘ so funny… The single was also a source of a great controversy in my house. I played it to my grandparents and then I played them the B-side, which was ‘There Ain’t Half Been Some Clever Bastards’. They were horrified a nine-year-old would have a single with such an expletive on it. I felt very rebellious.”

The first album I owned

Madness – ‘Complete Madness’

“I played the album to death. They influenced me to wear a pork pie hat and piano key tie to a shit village hall disco. The piano key tie lasted for many years, but the pork pie hat was made out of paper and I sweated it to destruction in one night… I went to see them with Alex Horne in 2021 and they’re still a magnificent live band… A couple of years ago I dug out [my parents’ old record player] and, old sentimentalist that I am, had it mended and it’s now in my flat. I’ve still got ‘Complete Madness’ and I’ve still got the record player I used to play it to death on.”

The first gig I went to


Public Image Ltd in the 1980s

“I’d just passed my driving test and I drove us all there. There was no way my parents would let me drive too far in their car, so I suspect the gig was in Stoke or somewhere like that… The crowd at the front of the gig were all spitting at John Lydon. He was trying to leave behind the Sex Pistols days, when it was all filth and outrage, and he was trying to be taken a bit more seriously. I very clearly remember him saying, ‘If you don’t stop spitting, I’ll walk off this fucking stage.’ I thought, ‘Good for you. Why should you be flobbed at during your working day?'”

The song that reminds me of home

Glen Campbell – ‘Wichita Lineman’

“My dad and I used to sing it at the top of our voices whenever we went on car journeys together, usually to look at cars because we were both car obsessives. My dad had a knee-jerk reaction to Glen Campbell – if anyone ever mentioned him, he would always say, “Perfect pitch. He’s got perfect pitch’… I took my dad to see Glen Campbell on his farewell tour [in 2011] when his Alzheimer’s was quite advanced. My dad was not in a great physical state by then, so I wheeled him into the gig in a wheelchair and we both sang ‘Wichita Lineman’ with Glen Campbell, who was [also] visibly struggling with Alzheimer’s. That was a quite touching moment.”

The song I wish I’d written

Morrissey – ‘Suedehead’

“When the song was released [in 1988], I was in a turbulent teenage relationship which I thought was life defining – of course it wasn’t – and I just couldn’t believe that line: ‘Why do you come here/When you know it makes things hard for me?’ I was trying to think of what to say to that girl and this man said had it for me. Morrissey’s known for a florid use of language and an Oscar Wildean turn of phrase, but his cleverness as a lyricist is how he can speak to you so eloquently in so few words. Obviously, he has terrible beliefs now.”

The song I do at karaoke

Barbra Streisand – ‘Woman In Love’

“I don’t do karaoke and the reason I don’t do karaoke is because I don’t like listening to anyone else do karaoke. I don’t find it funny or charming. If anything, it turns me against friends. If they think I’d be enchanted by listening to them sing quite badly – often singing a song I’ve loved for years – they would be wrong… I was recently driving and ‘Woman In Love’ by Barbra Streisand came on. While I was listening to her glorious early 1980s pipes I allowed myself the fantasy I was asked to sing at an event and I shocked everyone by singing ‘Woman In Love’. I sang it so brilliantly, everyone was moved to tears… Maybe all of my karaoke cynicism will one day be laid to rest when I wow the crowd with my Streisand. But karaoke makes me hate my friends.”

The song I can’t get out of my head

Dr. Dre – ‘The Next Episode’

“Not many people go from Streisand to Dr. Dre. I love that song, but I almost try to avoid it now so I don’t spend the day saying, ‘Ya da da da da.’ What a tune, though it’s never a good look for a man in his fifties attempting to sing Dr. Dre.”

The song I can no longer listen to

The Cult – ‘She Sells Sanctuary’

“I have ruined so many songs for myself because of my nature; if someone gives me a cake, I eat the whole cake. When I get into a song, I play that fucking song to death. ‘She Sells Sanctuary’ by The Cult, which for many years I’ve cited as my favourite song ever, I can now barely listen to.”


The song that makes me want to dance

Blackstreet – No Diggity (feat. Dr. Dre)

“I could list so many songs from my indie youth which make me want to get up: ‘She Sells Sanctuary’ would have been one of them, The Wonder Stuff’s ‘Don’t Let Me Down’, Gently would definitely be one, ‘This Charming Man’ by The Smiths, and plenty of Sex Pistols tracks… But there is no song that makes me want to dance more than ‘No Diggity’ by Blackstreet featuring Dr. Dre. That’s the truth.”

The song I want played at my funeral

Frank Sinatra – ‘Fly Me To The Moon’

“My initial answer was ‘What A Waster’ by The Libertines, because I liked the idea of my relatives having to join in and sing that I was a ‘two bob cunt’. I did think it would be funny to hand out a song sheet at a funeral and have people sing that refrain… But, after a chat with my mum, it would be ‘Fly Me To The Moon’ by Frank Sinatra. We played that at my dad’s funeral and it was a moment of much-needed levity which really made people smile. He genuinely loved that song. Just before this conversation my mum and I decided it would be the family funeral song from this day forth.”

‘The Cleaner’, starring Greg Davies, airs every Friday at 9.30pm on BBC One – the entire series is available now on BBC iPlayer

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