Eddi Reader: 'Two little girls asked for my autograph. I asked them 'why?''
- Brian Donaldson
- 14 November 2019
The acclaimed folk-pop singer-songwriter takes on our First & Last Q&A
Eddi Reader has a busy old time of it across the next few months, but she generously took time out for a bit of a Q&A in which she discusses Brussels sprouts, Bob Dylan and blow-up swimming pools
First record you ever bought
I bought Sunshine when I was 15, the soundtrack to a 1973 B-movie which was shown in the cinema that I had a summer job in circa 1975. The soundtrack was the actors all doing covers of early John Denver songs and it turned me on to better ways of playing my acoustic guitar, or, at least, expanded my collection of songs to play on it. I had been playing since ten or 11 years old and previously I learned to play along to songs my family sung. After learning the Sunshine songs I went full-blown hippy and bought Dylan, Joni, Jim Kweskin & The Jug Band and Scotland's Ossian who played Irvine Folk Club, to learn more.
Last extravagant purchase you made
Ableton Push 2 … it's a new world.
First film you saw that really moved you
Sunshine, as mentioned above, a true story starring Cliff DeYoung and Brenda Vaccaro. I saw it 32 times while escorting people to their seats. The other film was Joe Kidd with Clint Eastwood. At that time (1976) the cinema showed two movies a night, a cowboy for the boys and a weepy for the lassies. I come from the dark ages.
Last lie you told
That I wasn't hungry for cake.
First movie you ever went on a date to
Jeezo: there's no way I can remember the movie, I only remember the dude.
Last time you cried
Last week at the Judy Garland film starring Renée Zellweger.
First thing you do when you've got time off work
Fix my garden, cook for my boys, clean the fish tanks, play Zelda.
Last great meal you cooked
Yesterday I made a pretty brilliant sautéed, shredded Brussels sprouts with nuts, garlic, black pepper and lemon juice.
Cliff DeYoung in Sunshine, but David Essex (Rock On era) ran a close second. Oh, and then there was the Alias Smith and Jones guys. Ben Murphy was pretty much plastered over my bit of our shared bedroom wall.
Last book you read
Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert.
First great piece of advice you were given
'Be good to yourself and always have the bus fare home'.
Last time you were starstruck
When I went to the Nova Scotia Folk Club in Bishopbriggs last Saturday night and heard Chris While and Julie Matthews sing.
First thing you'd do if you ran the country
Tell the truth about how life is abundant.
Last meal on earth
Two slices of plain loaf wrapped around butter, chips, tomato sauce/mayo and a massive pint of sugary tea.
First song you'll sing at karaoke
Anything by Elvis Presley.
Last time you exploited your position to get something
Don't think I've ever done that.
First time you realised you were famous
When I went to Brixton Market in London the day after I appeared on Top of the Pops with Fairground Attraction singing 'Perfect'. A mother passed me with her young son and I could hear him say to her, 'hey MUM!! That's: 'I DON'T WANT … ' which is the first three words of the song: to that little boy it was my name. Later that same day, two little girls followed me and asked for my autograph. I asked them 'why?' The atmosphere around me shifted when I was out and about. Which was unexpected in my naivety. I remember thinking, 'oh this is different'.
Last time someone criticised your work
Me, today. I'm working on it.
First three words your friends would use to describe you
Scatty, late, unavailable. But that's just my interpretation. You would have to ask them.
Last time you made an impulse buy and regretted it
Nope, can't think of one.
First concert you ever attended
Bob Dylan, Earls Court, on the Street Legal tour in 1978. Set me off on the road.
Last time you bought someone flowers
For my sister in Hatfield, Herts, for her birthday in early October.
First object you'd save from your burning home
My old Yasuma guitar. And my Martin … I have two hands.
Last funny thing you saw online
Some boy swinging a sword to show off his samurai skills and slicing through his parents' blow-up swimming pool. I'm easily amused.
Selling jewellery for Mrs McDade in all the markets in the west of Scotland, The Barras, Saltcoats, Kilmarnock. Picked up at 6am and worked til 6pm, then at Christmas to midnight. I was 12. Prior to that, various babysitting gigs and washing tenement stairwells.
Last crime you committed
Not saying without a lawyer present.
First word you spoke
I don't know, I wasn't conscious, but I noticed various uncles always encouraged babies to say 'Celtic' or 'Rangers': don't know why. I sung into a reel-to-reel tape my dad had in the early 1960s. I was two or three and I can hear me singing '3 Penny Buns in a Baker's Shop'. I still have that recording.
Last song at your funeral
'Goodnight My Love' by Shirley Temple might be good.
First person you'd thank in an award acceptance speech
Mum and dad?
Last thing you think of before you go to sleep
Shall I watch a film?
First thing you think of when you wake up in the morning
Is it sunny?
Eddi Reader tours with Jools Holland, until Saturday 7 December; solo tour, Saturday 30 November–Tuesday 31 December; with Phil Cunningham's Christmas Songbook, Sunday 15–22 December; at Celtic Connections in Glasgow, Saturday 25 January.