The Take 5 is a music podcast where the people you love, share five songs they love. Each guest has a different theme, and the memories attached to their most beloved songs flip them to fan mode, often giving a rare insight into their creative heart. Hosted by Zan Rowe.
Ruby Wax's survivor songs
Ruby Wax is an icon of comedy and interviewing.
Through the 90’s and early 00’s Ruby’s BBC TV specials saw her chatting with the most famous people of the times: Madonna, Jim Carrey, Imelda Marcos, Donald Trump, OJ Simpson, and Pamela Anderson.
Her disarming docu-interviewing style preceded people like Louis Theroux, and when she wasn’t getting up in people’s grill, she was script editing Absolutely Fabulous.
These days Ruby is an author and mental health advocate, but she still does it all with that acerbic wit. And it was on show in this brilliant conversation, as Ruby took us through her survival songs from childhood to today.
Ride of the Valkries - Wagner
Creep - Radiohead
Eleanor Rigby - Beatles
Fire and Rain - James Taylor
Heal - Lady Gaga
Chanelle Henderson's music therapy
Have you ever seen those videos online where someone hears a song, and they’re instantly transported back to a moment? It could be someone with Alzheimers or Dementia, or with a brain injury or trauma that language can’t reach, but music can. Maybe you’ve known someone with autism, who is non verbal but can communicate with song.
It’s called music therapy, and the science behind it, is incredible. Usually the Take 5 is with a muso, or person in the public eye. But I wanted to step into another realm, and get inside the brain of a registered music therapist. Chanelle Henderson is just that. She works with a really broad array of people too, from elderly clients to little kids and preterm babies and their parents. And across five songs, she invites you into this world and tells you the stories of some incredible breakthroughs. From three chord simplicity, to bonding with babies, and the music that takes us back instantly as a sensory memory, this is a beautiful conversation about the scientific and emotional power of song.
You Are My Sunshine - Johnny Cash
Stop - Spice Girls
Raining on the Rock - Warren H Williams
Song for Sammy - Missy Higgins
Sitting On The Dock of the Bay – Otis Redding
James Blake's heartbreak anthems
Over the past decade, James Blake has gone from grabbing our hearts with the Wilhelm Scream, to collaborating with some of the biggest names on the planet. The London born producer, singer, and multi-instrumentalist has always kept it moving; expanding his sound, testing new waters, and through it all remaining grounded in what matters.
I first met James back in 2011, just as the hype around him was beginning to grow. And I’ve been lucky to catch up with him over the years at various points. But he’s never done a Take 5, until now.
On the day he released his fifth album, he joined me to play over people’s tunes. Specifically, his favourite heartbreak anthems. From Stevie Wonder to Pink Pantheress to Al Green, this is a capture of an incredible music mind and heart.
Stevie Wonder - Never Dreamed You’d Leave In Summer
Jeff Buckley - I Know It’s Over
Dijon - Many Times
Pink Pantheress - Break It Off
Al Green - How Can You Mend A Broken Heart
Sufjan Stevens & Angelo De Augustine absolute beginners
Sufjan Stevens is one of the most prolific songwriters working today, and it feels as though his drive to write songs is as much about the creation of music, as it is the understanding of creativity itself, and finding different ways to explore it. He first heard Angelo De Augustine a few years ago, and when you hear Angelo’s voice you’ll understand why Suf signed him to his label. And why they decided to make an album together.
A Beginner’s Mind is a record inspired and created by a few forces. Sufjan and Angelo holed up in a cabin in upstate New York to write it. They would watch old movies at night; classics like Point Break, She’s Gotta Have It, Silence of the Lambs, even Bring It On Again. Then they’d use these stories to write their own. But they also threw in the I Ching, and a Zen Buddhist principle of Shoshin, or A Beginner’s Mind.
What’s come out of it is a beautiful collection of songs, and the inspiration behind my Take 5 theme of Absolute Beginners. From an epic recording of Nina Simone, to the short and surreal world of Ivor Cutler, and the incredible world of Prince, this is a beautiful journey with two absolute angels.
Judy Garland - 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow'
Prince - 'The Ballad of Dorothy Parker'
Nina Simone - 'My Sweet Lord / Today Is A Killer'
Ivor Cutler - 'Sharks'
Beverly Glenn-Copeland - 'Ever New'
It’s a special Take 5, as we mark the 30th anniversary of Nirvana releasing Nevermind. This was the record that brought grunge into the mainstream, it changed the game not just for the Seattle sound, but catapulted it into a worldwide movement. To celebrate this iconic moment, I dug up some of my most treasured conversations from the Take 5 archives, with the people at the centre of the scene.
You’ll hear from Butch Vig, the producer who shaped Nevermind. From Jonathan Poneman, who signed Nirvana and co-founded Sub-Pop; the label at the centre of the scene. Billy Corgan will pop up, whose Smashing Pumpkins were another huge player in the scene. And we’ll revisit my chat with Michael Azzerad, who penned a bestselling biography of Nirvana and also an iconic capture of the late '80s and early '90s indie scene in America, with Our Band Could Be Your Life. Nirvana’s connection to Australia is significant too, and photographer Sophie Howarth will bring it close to home with her memories of hanging with the band and seeing them play on their only Australian tour.
It’s a wild ride, and I feel so privileged to have shared this space and these stories. So don the flanny, pull on the cords, let your dirty hair down, and revisit one of music’s most loved era’s.
Nirvana - Smells Like Teen Spirit
Smashing Pumpkins – Disarm
Neil Young – Ambulance Blues
Fugazi – Waiting Room
Feedtime – Shovel
Matthew E. White's full spectrum
Matthew E White is a jack of all trades. A producer hailing from Richmond, Virginia, he’s worked with everyone from Sharon Van Etten to Natalie Prass, Justin Vernon to The Mountain Goats. A few years ago he set up Spacebomb, a studio and label which also acts as a community space for artists to experiment.
This all feeds off his own work, as a multi-instrumentalist, former jazz player, and songwriter for whom music has no boundaries. In short, Matt is the kinda guy you love to get stuck talking to in the kitchen at a house party, which I why I asked him to Take 5.
From ESG to Frankie Valli to Marvin Gaye, crawl inside the full spectrum of Matthew E White’s mind.
ESG - You're No Good
Augustus Pablo - King Tubby Meets Rockers Uptown
Miles Davis - Rated X
Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons - December, 1963 (Oh, What A Night)
Marvin Gaye - Mercy Mercy Me (the Ecology)
Amazing episode in one of my favorite shows
Zan Rowe is a very talented EJ interviewer on double J radio and this whole Series (take 5) is fascinating to anyone interested in music and/or the creative process. This particular one is with Max Richter, who is well known outside the popular Music world as a modern classical musician and composer. He talks about how a wide range of classical, electronic, rock and jazz music has inspired him, exemplified in the five pieces of music he chose to discuss. This is radio at its absolute best.
Love this podcast, takes me back!!
Zan is awesome and it’s so good they are doing more pop based artists. Jessica Mauboy, Kylie, Kacey M - keep it coming!