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Glen Hansard's Ultimate Playlist

Glen Hansard's Ultimate Playlist

Glen Hansard's Ultimate Playlist
11 September 2015

Glen Hansard is riding a wave of success right now.

Having performed on stage with giants such as Bruce Springsteen, Leonard Cohen and Eddie Vedder, won an Academy Award, sold out three recent shows at Sydney Opera House and another one he's due to play at Shepherd’s Bush on 21 October, you could forgive the Dubliner for having his head in the clouds.

Though when ShortList phoned the singer songwriter earlier this week, you'll be glad to know he’s not gone all Bono on us - he's about as down to earth as you can get without hitting oil. In fact we worked this out before he even picked up - the Once star sings his answer phone message. A true entertainer.

As for his playlist, he was every bit as enthusiastic as you'd hope, giving a rundown of leftfield picks, alternative fare, semi guilty pleasures - one in particular you never would have guessed at.

True to the title of his latest album, Didn't He Ramble, he's a talker all right.

Didn’t He Ramble is released on 18 September 


"There’s a line in Sufjan Stevens’s recent single Should Have Known Better – 'I was three, three maybe four, she left me, she left us in that video store' – and for some reason it f*cking kills me. I know the whole record’s about his mother, and I’ve spoken to the producer of it, Thomas, who produced my record as well, and talked to me a little bit about it. It has this wonderful ghost-like figure going through it, which I suppose is her, and whatever she did to him to provoke that line must have hurt him. This song was the first off his new album to hit me - hard. What makes an album great is that it feels like you enter a space and it holds you. It could be a tone - like in Historie de Melody Nelson by Serge Gainsbourg - or a mood, the piano, the guitar, but it holds you there. You feel safe in that space."


"As much as I wanted to come up with a highbrow song for this, the one lyric which immediately jumped into my head was George Michael’s “I’m never going to dance again - guilty feet ain't got no rhythm”. I couldn’t stand him back in the day – I was very much a seventies music listener, I was f*cking dragged into the eighties, reluctantly. Though I’ve always loved that lyric, it’s right there in the middle of a pop song and I think it’s brilliant. I’ll commit to this one all right."


"A fairly recent song but one I keep going back to, I’ll even put it on mixtapes for people. It’s by a band who are Swedish and sound Spanish, who I discovered them while flicking through stuff in the Museum of Modern Art in Barcelona. As soon as this came on the stereo it blew my mind. I asked the girl behind the counter what it was, and she seemed happy I’d asked, so I assumed it was her own playlist. It’s How Did We Forget by El Perro del Mar. Which is essentially a really simple piece of classic soul music - white folks doing black music without feeling forced. It’s basically a girl saying to her boyfriend, ‘stop struggling, it’s going to be fine’. Then the chorus comes in with ‘How Did We Forget About Our Love?’ The simplest of sentiments, and it hits you between the eyes. A Wonderful horn sequence just seals it."


"It all comes back to Quadrophenia. As a kid I was firmly a mod; I’d fix a Vespa on my mother’s kitchen table and take it apart, and the first track which comes into my head from that album is Rhythm of the Rain by The Cascades. Don’t get me wrong, I loved The Who and those kinds of bands, yet it was that fourth side of the record, full of more soul and US stuff like The Ronettes – Be My Baby, which I adored. At that time I was a huge fan of The Jam, but I was also a huge Dylan fan, so everything was clashing. It didn’t make any sense! I was a long haired guy who wore two-toned shirts. I rode around on a Vespa with long hair. Half mod, half rocker - a ‘mocker’ you could say!"


"The saddest song I heard growing up was Ashes to Ashes by David Bowie. My sister was into eighties music while I was into the seventies stuff without realising it. Bowie, on the other hand, transcended the decades, he had a special place in every one’s heart, and we both could enjoy him. Bigger than anyone out there, the Bob Dylan of pop music. The line about Major Tom being a junkie, “strung out in heaven's high, hitting an all-time low” – those lyrics as a kid were mystical, it put me in a really odd mood. Of course I had no idea what that meant at the time – Bowie is such a mess, coked-up to his eyeballs and singing about where he was at, saying ‘I am fucked’, but it said to me: man who is lost."


"Believe it or not, I’ve always loved Step In The Name Of Love by R Kelly. Specifically, the remix on the Chocolate Factory album. What I really like about this version is that in the song he talks about dancing to a remix of his own song, saying how great the song is, and I f*cking love that. The sheer boldness of the guy. Some chorus also. I defy anyone to listen to this song to the end and not dance. By the last minute you’ll have stopped resisting and joined in the fun."


"I used to play in my uncle’s band and one song we were asked to play was Tammy Wynette’s D-I-V-O-R-C-E. So I’ll go with that one. Funnily enough, I got newspapers claiming I’d crashed a wedding with Judd Apatow recently. We didn’t crash anything! Judd’s someone I’ve got to know through all the experience of Once, and he called me to say he was in Dublin, so I took him to my local bar for a pint. Three of his friends came. Next thing, a wedding comes into a bar and start freaking out about the girl next to me, and I had no idea who she was. Then one of the party asks me to play them a song, so they fetched a guitar and I did. We all started singing together and as they went crazy for this girl, she helped with the chorus. I left to see a friend’s play and by the time I got back to the pub it was all over YouTube and someone told me the girl Amy [Schumer] is a big deal in the states. The wedding crashed us."


"My mother used to listen to records really loud while obsessively cleaning the house. You know the ones, dealing with their grief through cleaning. One of these songs which I loved was Pat Boone – Speedy Gonzalez. She eventually gave me the 7-in record which I broke and never listened to it again. The later part of my childhood was all about Ghost Town by The Specials, bringing me to a transcendent state like Bowie did. I’m from Ballymun, which at the time was a bit of a ghost town with all the heroin and high-rise flats. And when Ghost Town came out, and as Golden Brown had done for The Stranglers, it sounds eerie, it just rises from the speakers. Songs like that have been written for centuries, they just appear. This was the perfect marriage of Jamaican sound and London sound. What I also loved is that there was nothing racist about this band, who were a great cross-section of race and societies. One of my closest friends as a kid got into the National Front first through the music we'd listen to and then through skinhead style. He later got into Nazi stuff because of the politics, whereas I was only ever about the music, and thought ‘you fucking idiot, you’d totally missed the point’."


"Falco – Rock Me Amadeus, without doubt. A great song is a great song. People always cite Gary Numan – Cars as a one hit wonder but he had loads of great hits."


"Sometimes songs fall out of the sky and land on your lap. The ones you enjoy the most aren’t because they’re the best songs you’ve written but because there’s just something about them. They feel like you had nothing to do with them. Wedding Ring, from my record, is one of those. It’s really a simple song about a guy who is in love with a woman is crazy, and he’s going to marry her anyway, figuring she might calm down -  and we all know she doesn’t. So for him, she’s trouble but you love her. . I usually ask Curtis Fowlkes, our trombone player, to sing it as it feels more natural when he sings it. He’s an old dyed-in-the-wool jazz guy who’s played with the likes of Miles Davis. He's an amazing guy and it does the song real justice."

Didn’t He Ramble is released on 18 September