On my radar: Laura Marling's cultural highlights

The singer-songwriter on Greta Gerwig, an intimate podcast – and what she’s binge-watching in lockdown

Singer-songwriter Laura Marling was born in 1990, and brought up in a village in Hampshire. She released her debut album, Alas, I Cannot Swim, the week of her 18th birthday. Recipient of a Brit award for best British female solo artist in 2011, she has also received nominations for three Mercury prizes and a best folk album Grammy (for her last album, 2017’s Semper Femina). As a gesture of solidarity to locked-down music fans, Marling brought forward the release of her seventh LP, Song for Our Daughter, from late summer. It was released on Friday on Chrysalis/Partisan.

1. Film

Little Women (2019)

Florence Pugh, Saoirse Ronan and Emma Watson in Little Women.
Florence Pugh, Saoirse Ronan and Emma Watson in Little Women. Photograph: Wilson Webb/Shutterstock

I saw this with a friend in Soho a few months ago and it absolutely sucker-punched me. I’m still thinking about it now. I didn’t know Louisa May Alcott’s book when I was younger, but I’m the youngest of three sisters, and we used to watch the 1994 film version, starring Winona Ryder, all the time. I wanted to be Jo, of course. We all do! This version brings what happens to Beth to the beginning, and it had me crying from the second minute, all the way through. Greta Gerwig is a fantastic director. She should have won an Oscar.

2. Graphic novel

Are You My Mother? A Comic Drama by Alison Bechdel

Are You My Mother? by Alison Bechel
Are You My Mother? by Alison Bechel Photograph: Jonathan Cape

Alison Bechdel’s such a brilliant comic book artist. This book’s about her relationship with her mother, and her discovery of the work of the English psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott, who wrote a lot about parenting and children’s development. Bechdel weaves memoir together with snippets of Winnicott’s essays and his biography, which interests me because I’ve been studying for a part-time masters degree in psychoanalysis myself since last summer. I’ve also been under psychoanalysis, and I love how it helps me write, and can be applied to so many things.

3. Podcast

Where Should We Begin? by Esther Perel

Esther Perel
Esther Perel Photograph: Audible

When I first heard Esther Perel, on another podcast, I thought she was fantastic. She’s sassy and authoritative in a way that I find very appealing. She doesn’t tolerate bullshit. On this podcast, anonymous couples come in, and you think they’re in obvious situations, but what happens next always goes beyond that. I find it fascinating that there are a lot of queer or non-binary couples on it, and the issues they discuss always transcend gender and sexual identity. Perel reduces everyone to their childish needs, and shows how sensitive and vulnerable we all really are. We’re all still little children, really!

4. TV

Seinfeld (All 4)

Seinfeld’s Michael Richards, Jason Alexander, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Jerry Seinfeld.
Seinfeld’s Michael Richards, Jason Alexander, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Jerry Seinfeld. Photograph: NBC Universal via Getty Images

I decided that re-watching all nine seasons of Seinfeld would be the best thing to do during lockdown. Friends has aged terribly, and I briefly considered revisiting The Sopranos, but decided it would be too much for my brain. I missed Seinfeld the first time round because I was too young, but as my sisters are eight and 10 years older than me, I remember them recording and rewinding bits of it on VHS, and sharing one-liners. My favourite episode’s the one where they all have a competition to see who can go longest without masturbating (The Contest). I could watch Julia-Louis Dreyfus all day.

5. Music

Big Thief

Big Thief’s Adrianne Lenker.
Big Thief’s Adrianne Lenker. Photograph: Mariano Regidor/Redferns

Big Thief were one of the few bands I saw in the past few months and they’re so good at it. There’s something timeless, but also uncanny, about their music to me. It’s like they’re a band from the 1990s – they have this holey, baggy-jeans feel about them – but you can tell they’ve played together for enough hours, as the rule goes, to make them geniuses, too. Adrianne Lenker is an astonishing lyricist. One of my favourite lines of hers is from Shark Smile from a few years ago: “Evelyn’s kiss was oxygen/ I leaned over to take it in”. Their new album, Two Hands, is fantastic.

6. Instagram

Chloe Fineman

Chloe Fineman as Carole Baskin.
Chloe Fineman as Carole Baskin. Photograph: @chloeiscrazy/Instagram

I’ve been on Instagram a lot recently doing live guitar tutorials. I first knew about Chloe’s comedy from my friend Casey Thomas Brown in LA [with whom Marling starred in 2013 short film Woman Driver: The Musical]. She’s the newest cast member on Saturday Night Live, and she’s unbelievable at impersonating people, which she does regularly on her Instagram account. She does Gigi and Bella Hadid, and she did Carole Baskin from Tiger King [Netflix’s hit documentary series] recently – if you’ve seen that, you have to see Chloe doing her. The best thing about her is she’s not nasty. I’ve never liked comedy that’s about meanness or trashing people. She strikes absolutely the right tone.

Contributor

Jude Rogers

The GuardianTramp

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