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by Kirsteen Paterson
29 April 2022
Political Spin: Marion Fellows MP

Marion Fellows in her official portrait. Pic: Creative Commons

Political Spin: Marion Fellows MP

The SNP MP for Motherwell and Wishaw on the music that makes her

What was the first record you ever bought?
Barbara Ann by the Beach Boys, for my boyfriend at the time. I’ve always loved the Beach Boys. It’s hard to imagine now, but I grew up in a house that didn’t have a record player, so it was the radio that was on and that’s how you would listen to music. I had to fight my parents to be allowed to watch Top of the Pops, and then you would go in on a Friday morning and discuss all the records. Things like Eve of Destruction by Barry McGuire were required listening.

What record will always get you on the dance floor?
Anything by Abba or from the 60s, and I love The Proclaimers. They’ve got a folk thing going on, and they’re also a bit bluesy. I used to listen to a lot of protest songs. During the hippy movement, people like Tom Paxton were huge, if you were into that kind of music. With Abba, you can just let yourself go. 

What was the first gig you went to?
That would be the folk clubs, mainly in Ayr, where I grew up. The last gig I went to was Eddi Reader in Lanark very recently, which was lovely, and one of the posters I saw there was for Mike Whellans and Aly Bain, and I saw them in Ayr Folk Club in the 60s. I saw Tom Paxton in Edinburgh, which was great. Music for me is often about people; it’s a bit Desert Island Discs-ish. When I met my husband George, who was a bit older than me, we loved live music but there wasn’t always a lot of cash going round to go to gigs. But we had our song, Love Letters in the Sand by Pat Boone. That was a side of us that a lot of folk didn’t see. After he died, I still can’t listen to it. 

What was the first dance at your wedding?
We didn’t have a first dance, that’s a lot more modern. I sound like Methuselah! We had a band at the wedding but they came with the hotel, so you got what they played and I can’t remember it. My wedding day was like no other, though. We ended up locked out of the car with the keys in the ignition and they hadn’t even booked us into the hotel. We got married very quickly; we were only out two or three times before he asked me to marry him and then we moved to London. 

Do you have a favourite song?
I love so many different kinds of music and I don’t have a favourite. When I was younger, I got into The Animals, things like House of the Rising Sun, and I love Creedence Clearwater Revival, Manfred Mann’s Do Wah Diddy Diddy - anything with a good beat. I can still remember the first time I heard The Beatles. I was in my back garden and the woman across the back was playing Love Me Do, and I thought, ‘I like that’. It’s a bit like Me and Bobby McGee by Kris Kristofferson, something in it grabs your attention. And I listen to western swing, some of which is hilarious. That was very big in the 1930s and I don’t know how I came across it, but it can be very funny.

What do you listen to at home?
I love Spotify because when I’m in the house cooking I put it on and hear things like Gilbert & Sullivan and Mario Lanza. I was taken to see his film by my aunt when I was a wee girl. George and I went to see Les Misérables, because we loved the music in that.

What song do you associate with your childhood?
Because I grew up in the 1950s, it was things that were on Children’s Favourites on the radio on a Saturday morning. I was always fascinated by songs that told a story. That’s the line that runs through to things like The Proclaimers and the Beach Boys, who told stories in their songs. And growing up in Ayr, you knew a lot of Burns. Eddi Reader does Burns beautifully.

What do you listen to with your granddaughters?
The three-and-a-half-year-old likes Baby Shark, and for the five-year-old and eight-year-old it’s We Don’t Talk About Bruno from the Disney film Encanto. The 11-and-a-half-year-old is too cool for any of it.

What song is guaranteed to make you smile?
Don’t Worry, Be Happy by Bobby McFerrin. That’s something that really is mood-altering. Sometimes after a hard day in the chamber, that’s what you need.

Read the most recent article written by Kirsteen Paterson - Political Spin: Pete Wishart MP

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