The shape I’m In: Eddi Reader, singer-song writer

THOUGH just over a debilitating chest infection, singer-song writer Eddi Reader is full of the joys of life and music.

The shape I’m In: Eddi Reader, singer-song writer

“Every singing is and should be emotional,” says the Glaswegian and former member of Fairground Attraction.

“For me it has always been a vocation rather than a job. I’m chasing some beauty. It makes me feel open and refreshed and focused and very intimate with my own experience as a human being.”

From an early age she found comfort in singing. And an emotional truth. “As a five-year and six-year-old I only ever heard drunk adults singing and they were always connected to their own emotions. If one was brokenhearted there was a brokenhearted song, if one was poetic there was a poetic song, if one was filthy dirty there was a filthy dirty joke of a song that made everybody laugh.

“I loved that just as much as I loved the silent tear ones, the ones that make people cry — the ones about emigration, the ones about lost love, the ones you know your aunty danced to with the guy that got away — she is remembering that when she sings. Those kind of things really got me early on as a musical child before I knew it.

“I always say if you want to teach people about music shove them in a house full of drunks that love singing. It’s the best way of learning about the passion of a song the passion of music and how it changes the atmosphere in a room.”

Aged 55, with an MBE, two honorary doctorates and a string of BRIT awards to her name, she continues to perform and record music.

At home she is enjoying “a nice new time”. Two years ago she married songwriter John Douglas. Her two sons from a previous marriage are aged 26 and 22 and are involved in the music business.

* Eddi Reader performs at the Ballymaloe Grainstore on February 22, 021-4651555.

For other Irish tour dates see

What shape are you in?

Apart from a chest infection that flattened me between Christmas and new year, I’m fine. I took a week to really rest. I forget how important that is. I watched a ton of old films.

Do you have you any health concerns?

Not really, I’m aware that all things must pass, including me, but I’m determined to be fit and functioning right up to the finishing line.

What is your guiltiest pleasure?

I don’t do guilt. I try and forgive myself for all my ways.

What would keep you awake at night?

Worrying about my sons and family.

How to you relax?

Baths and playing games on my DS. Watching movies from the 1920s and 1930s.

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?

The house would be full. I’d have Gandhi, Shay Healy and Mother Teresa to argue the bit and I’d have the Dalai Lama, Pope Francis, Marilyn Monroe, Elvis, Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong. And I’d have my Dad and all my granddads and all the musical ancestors who I didn’t know. I’d have lots of children and they’d all be up singing and dancing. I’d invite the guy begging on the street and Prince Charles and sit them in a corner together.

What is your favourite smell?

Woodbine cigarettes. No-one smoked in my parents house but my Tralee grannie was sunshine in my life and coming home from school the aroma from her Woodbine at the door would indicate she was upstairs in the livingroom with tea and sandwiches on the go.

What would you like to change about your appearance?

Mostly my middle age spread — ‘middle age’ is slightly optimistic!

When did you last cry?

I cry quite easily, especially at the loss of young people or unexpected loss. When the bin lorry crashed in Glasgow that was quite tough for all of us here. Ancient stories of young men dying in a war field from 100 years will still have me in tears. I can’t quite see it as something that is over. Grief is what this world’s wages are.

What trait do you least like in yourself?

I can see something off kilter and it obsesses me until I have to tackle it. This can distract me from writing and arranging.

What trait you least like in others?

Telling me I can’t do something when I know I can.

Do you pray?


What would cheer your day?

If everyone found a quick way to feel the joy of being here without abusing any other, if politicians and powerful people were honest and empathetic to nature.

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