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by Mandy Rhodes
03 December 2021
Political Spin: Collette Stevenson

Political Spin: Collette Stevenson

What’s the first single you ever bought?  

Sunday Girl by Blondie. I think the B-side to that was Heart of Glass. I bought it in a record shop in East Kilbride in 1978 or ‘79.

I must have been about 10, I think. I got vouchers from my uncle for Christmas and used them for that. I then went on to buy Jilted John and stuff by the Boomtown Rats, but that Blondie single was one of the first that I went up to the shop to get myself.

So, were you a bit of a punk rocker back then?  

Very much so. I grew up with a big family, two big families, two big Catholic families. There was a real big age difference between us all and I was brought up with a huge plethora of different records, different musical genres, but I had an aunt who was only seven years older than me and she was my complete and utter role model.

It was one of those scenarios where she was in Primary 7 when I was in Primary 1. And she was a punk rocker. I used to sit and watch her putting her makeup on and I just followed her about like a wee shadow. She was really into X-ray Spex and Germ Free Adolescents was a big album that I listened to back then.

I then really loved the Clash and then through to UB40. I think reflecting on it, the one song that really stood out for me that came out in 1981, so I was probably entering first year at secondary, and it was UB40’s One in Ten.

Those lyrics had a big effect on me and what I was thinking about the world and of course politics at home. I must have been about 12 or 13 then. 

Gosh, quite young to be so serious?  

Ha, no, I was into a lot of pop music as well, to be honest with you. There used to be a Saturday afternoon disco here in East Kilbride and you’d have the likes of the Bay City Rollers and Showaddywaddy playing, which was great.  

You’ve got quite an eclectic taste in music.

I think having been brought up on both sides of a big family, and going to the disco on a  Saturday afternoon, and listening to some of the stuff that my mum and dad and her sisters listened to, and even my dad’s side of the family, which was predominantly all boys, I was just exposed to so many different types of music.

I had an uncle who was really into David Bowie and Roxy Music, so I grew up with that. And then my granny was listening to the likes of Perry Como and the Everly Brothers.

A Maiden’s Prayer was one of the ones that stood out for me, believe it or not. I’m not religious in anyway but that always reminds me of my granny.

Did you ever make up songs or records that you said you liked just to impress?

No, never, but I’d maybe change the lyrics sometimes to get a laugh.

What like? 

Like the Jam’s Going Underground but I won’t tell you the words that I actually used. 

Were they rude?

They were quite rude…

Are there any songs that are guaranteed to make you cry?

Yes, Sade, believe it or not, and it’s called By Your Side.

Right. And why does that upset you? 

I think it’s just the words and I don’t know, it just maybe reminds me a sad time. And also Heaven by Mick Hucknall and Simply Red. That’s a sad one. It reminds me a wee bit of when my papa died.

I’d never experienced anybody close to me that died. And I was trying to explore where he was going you know, probably even just challenging my faith, really. And I listened to the words... and Heaven is a bar and I thought that’s a nice way to look at heaven you know.

He’s not alone, he’s in a bar with others.

On that note, what music would you want played at your own funeral?

I honestly have never thought about it actually...erm, maybe something like Terence Trent D’Arby’s Who’s Loving You. I like soul music, maybe a Marvin Gaye one in there too. 

Do you still have records and singles?

I used to have all my dad’s singles and when I moved out my dad’s house and moved in with this guy or rather when I left the guy, I also left a single called My Bonnie by The Quarrymen who then went on to become the Beatles, it’s probably worth a fortune now. My dad never forgave me. 

I’ve still got my granny’s original Drifters album that she bought from Debenhams on Argyle Street and it was like two and six. And I’ve also still got the original Ziggy Stardust album as well. 

That might be worth a bit.

Absolutely, but it’s scratched to bits you know, but I still keep it up in the loft 

What about your karaoke song?

Oh, this is bad *laughs* it’s, erm, it’s Harper Valley PTA. It’s a good feminist song but I’m a terrible singer.

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