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by Louise Wilson
26 April 2023
Colin Smyth MSP's political spin

Colin Smyth MSP's political spin

The South Scotland MSP reveals a love of 'dad rock'...

What was the first record that you ever bought?

Flash by Queen, the movie soundtrack for Flash Gordon, although to be fair it was my dad who bought if for me because I was only seven at the time. That was the first record I ever owned. And I’ve been hooked on Queen since then – I’ve got every Queen single and every Queen album, and my secret indulgence is I travel around the world following Queen in concert.

My first gig was Wembley, 12 July 1986. I was 13. Sadly it was the last tour Freddie Mercury did, but I’ve been around the world – North America, Europe – following Queen, mainly with Adam Lambert as the lead singer, including the bucket-list Madison Square Gardens a few years ago.

What record will always get you on the dance floor?

I’m probably of an age where the distinctive opening of Dancing Queen by Abba, you stand up automatically, wave your arms around in the air and indulge in some terrible dad-dancing, as the kids would call it.

For a slow number, I’ve got a soft spot for At Last by Etta James because it was the first dance at our wedding. Things Can Only Get Better is obviously a favourite one amongst Labour MSPs – and hopefully it will be re-released quite soon.

What is your karaoke song?

Because I’ve got quite a deep voice, I play it safe with a bit of Johnny Cash. Ring of Fire, a particularly bad version of A Boy Named Sue

What song do you want played at your funeral?

Any Queen song. I’d want to have a happy moment, so maybe We Will Rock You and get everybody to do the hand clapping as well. Failing that, they could always play Another One Bites The Dust.

What song is guaranteed to make you cry?

There’s a song called Sunday Morning Coming Down. It was made famous by Johnny Cash, but was actually written by Kris Kristofferson. My dad was a big Johnny Cash fan, and the last concert we went to together was Kris Kristofferson in the Royal Concert Hall in Glasgow. I remember singing Sunday Morning Coming Down along with my dad so it always brings a tear to the eye, but it brings happy memories as well.

What music would you always associate with your childhood?

I used to love all the old football records that teams used to record before a cup final or World Cup. I’ve got a big collection of them, and I remember the classic We Have a Dream. John Gordon Sinclair recorded that with a Scotland World Cup team in 1982. It was my first sort of experience of music – and hopefully Scotland will get to record another one soon, but who knows?

It could be Yes Sir, I Can Boogie

Absolutely! I was singing that recently with several MSPs in a bar in Edinburgh as Scotland scored their second goal against Spain.

What record do you absolutely hate but can’t get out of your head?

Saturday Night by Whigfield. It’s annoying and you can stop going ‘dee-dee-na-na-na’ after you’ve heard that song. My flatmate at university used to play it all the time – just to annoy me, I think.

What record would you be embarrassed to owning up to having in your collection?
It’s probably those football records. Particularly Ally’s Tartan Army.

What was the last band you went to see?

Genesis, their farewell tour a few months ago. I went with my wife, the only person that would actually agree to go with me.

But I think I was born in the wrong era – all the bands I like, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, sadly don’t tour any more. I notice Queen have just announced another North America tour, so I’m currently in negotiations with Mrs Smyth over whether or not we can do a little return to Madison Square Gardens in New York. That would be good.

When they announced the tour in 2014, it was only North America. I was joking with my father-in-law, because my daughter was only one at that time, I said “you couldn’t do some babysitting so me and Mrs Smyth can go to a concert?” He says “aye”. I go, “I’m only joking, it’s North America, Madison Square Gardens”. And he said, “we love New York, me and your mother-in-law will come too!”

So we went on a family holiday in 2014 to America, they babysat and we went to Madison Square Gardens. We then went on to Washington and did one of the gigs there, so we managed to get two Queen gigs plus a nice family holiday. I’m not convinced I’m going to get to do that again.

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