Readers recommend playlist: songs about hobbies

An RR regular has picked a playlist from your nominations – songs from Shonen Knife, Frank Black and the Fall all make the list

Below is this week’s playlist – the theme and tunes picked by a reader from the comments on last week’s callout. Thanks for your suggestions. Read more about the format of the weekly Readers recommend series at the end of the piece.

What was your first hobby? Collecting dolls? Playing with Wendy houses? Trying to fly? None of the above? Perhaps you started where we are for the list – with scrapbooks. You could get them in the corner shop, huge pages of rough grey paper better suited to carpet underlay, and just stuck things in. Can you imagine anyone doing that these days? The late Frank Sidebottom, who sings of his Great Big Zoo Scrapbook might. He preferred certain creatures over others, and to find out which you’ll have to listen to this duet with Huggy Bear...

The YouTube playlist. Click here to listen via Spotify.

Next, with James Burton and Glen Campbell on guitars, Merle Haggard tells us the true story of his redemption. He was supposed to break out of San Quentin state prison, but the guys with whom he Made the Prison Band dissuaded him, citing rehearsals that would get in the way. They – and his hobby – saved his life; his erstwhile partner escaped, killed a guard, got caught and was executed.

Some say the camera never lies. Photographer George Jones believes he’ll see the woman he loves in some kind of new light when Developing My Pictures (of her). He’s going to see her two-timing personality as if in x-Ray and 3D. Of course, he knows already, real life doesn’t lie.

User avatar for DarceysDad Guardian contributor

Oh a headslap that must be at least 7.5 on the Richter Scale.

Willard Grant Conspiracy - Kite Flying

This hits almost ALL of the DsD soft spots - Robert Fisher's baritone, delicate start, simple structure, but building and building to a climax.

Honestly, how many times have I tried to get you lot to listen to this by shoehorning it in, and when its natural-fit topic crops up, I almost forget! DOOFUS ME!

Freed from the flesh and bone
Stretched on a cross of wood
Tied to a string and then flown away
In the wind, in the wind, in the wind

Can't find it on YT or Spotty, so here's a public link to the 'Box:


My son flies kites at Hilbre Island. We’re very fortunate, you know. He’s 18 stone of muscle and bone but still the kite lifts him off his feet and flies him for hundreds of metres ... Kite Flying (link to listen here) by Willard Grant Conspiracy, I think, has a certain intentional languidness to it. Is this how you’d feel when at the mercy of the air?

The incomparable Dusty Springfield liked to do a bit of Doodlin’. Writing as a person who can’t draw a matchstick man I have some admiration for sketchers, like two of my brothers, and here’s Dusty on the blower, pen in hand, doodling away.

Sounding suspiciously like the Fall, here comes Frank Black reminiscing about playing computer games with his brother in Whatever Happened to Pong?, “taking money off guys more used to playing cards”. Now, we’re supposed to be representing hobbies in this playlist, but in this case I reckon suckering people at a bar game could qualify. Your call.

Blow me down, here are the Fall for real. There was some vocal bleeding from another tab as I listened to your suggestions, so I’m not sure if the female backing vocalists belonged on there ... They sure sounded all right, though. Anyway, Mark E Smith says I’m into CB. I worked with a lot of people who used CB radios and respect how they remember fellow enthusiasts’ handles, but I never tried the hobby myself.

I was there when Kung Fu was introduced to the UK and many took it up, though. My brothers gave up boxing and became champion martial artists. I don’t know a chop from a chopstick myself, but they became stars. I recall watching a karate film in the cinema in the early 70s – it was so bad that the audience laughed for 90 minutes, though maybe that was the point? But then along came Bruce Lee, a superhero in real life, and then Jackie Chan, and I could understand the attraction and the spirit Ash capture well.

Poker: is it a game (ie a hobby) or a living? To Lady Gaga surely it’s just a sideshow. I lost eight bob once. Never again – my Poker Face just isn’t good enough.

There’s perhaps something Beatles-like about Shonen Knife’s Insect Collector, up next. Are insect collectors right on? Thinking back, lots of lads used to stamp on them, which is unfair, right? You wait from the Big Bang until life evolves and eventually you cop for a gig as an ant or an earwig, and some evil kid squashes you, or chloroforms you and pins you to a board.

They pay “Five pence fares on the buses ... but got two-fifty to go and see the Clash!” sing Television Personalities of the Part Time Punks they think don’t know they’re born. As philipphilip99 says in nominating the song for this list, “it’s a dig at those treating punk as a hobby rather than a way of life”.

Last up, Barenaked Ladies’ Silverball, an ode to the machines singer Ed Robertson apparently obsesses over.

New theme

The theme for next week’s playlist will be announced at 8pm (UK time) on Thursday 28 July. You have until 11pm on Monday 1 August to make nominations.

Here’s a reminder of some of the guidelines for RR:

  • If you have a good theme idea, or if you’d like to volunteer to compile a playlist from readers’ suggestions and write a blog about it, please email
  • There’s a wealth of data on RR, including the songs that are “zedded”, at the Marconium. It also tells you the meaning of “zedded”, “donds” and other strange words used by RR regulars.
  • Many RR regulars also congregate at the ’Spill blog.


George Boyland

The GuardianTramp

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