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by Ruaraidh Gilmour
28 October 2022
Political Spin: Paul O'Kane MSP

Political Spin: Paul O'Kane MSP

The Labour representative for West Scotland talks to Holyrood about Wheatus, dancing to Proud Mary and the country and western soundtrack of his childhood.

What was the first record you ever bought?

I think it would have been Wheatus, the self-titled album. They sang Teenage Dirtbag, and they covered A Little Respect by Erasure, which was probably my first introduction to that song. I now much prefer the original version, obviously.

What record will always get you on the dance floor?

This is easy. If you asked my colleagues, they would tell you that it is Proud Mary by Tina Turner. And there is a dance routine, which if I am suitably lubricated sometimes happens. I love the energy in the song, everyone knows it, and as soon as the beat drops everyone wants to be on the dance floor.

What is your karaoke song?

I always feel that a little bit of country and western music never goes awry. So maybe a bit of The Gambler, or if I can find a partner, Islands in the Stream. And I suppose if you have a partner, and it goes terribly wrong, you can share the embarrassment.

What song was your first dance at your wedding and why?

Our first dance was The One by Kodaline. It was the song that we heard on our first few dates, and the words are really significant to us. They are Irish, and I am big fan of Irish music, and my husband loves them as well, so it was pretty easy decision.  

Which songs do you want played at your funeral?

I want some absolute belter hymns of my childhood, like Walk with Me, Oh My Lord. But in terms of secular music, I do have this vision of, at the end of my funeral, the opening bars of Proud Mary playing and people just losing it, and maybe dancing in the aisles. I also really like the song For Good, which is in the musical Wicked. It’s poignant, so that would maybe give a bit of balance to the day. 

What songs/music is guaranteed to make you cry?

The song Hallelujah, the Jeff Buckley version, which I know sounds really cliché, but I just love it. It reminds me of being young and watching TV and it appearing in lots of programmes. I am very aware of the emotion in that song, it is very powerful, and it speaks of the human condition, you know, the kind of frailty of us all. 

What music would you always associate with your childhood?

My parents used to listen to a lot of Paul Simon, Simon and Garfunkel, and a bit of Billy Joel. But my dad used to have lots of country and western in the car: Kenny Rogers, Dolly Parton and Lynn Anderson. A song like Rose Garden was the type of song on the soundtrack to my childhood.

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

Take On Me by A-ha and Rick Astley, Never Gonna Give You Up. It’s so naff, but they are so catchy.

What record would you be embarrassed to owning up to having in your collection?

After attending a festival in County Donegal, where Daniel O’Donnell was the headliner, we had him on in the car, rattling about Donegal. And I realised that my husband knows far too many of his songs. 

What was the last band you went to see and who with?

A couple of weeks ago I went to see a band called Tidelines, in Greenock. They were doing a townhall tour, and it was brilliant. 

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