Kirsty MacColl has been my heroine since I was nine years old and went rifling through my mum’s tape collection for something to put in my Walkman.
I was a painfully shy, yet fiercely independent child (there’s a photo of me somewhere aged about three where I’ve deliberately sat myself away from the rest of my playgroup), so I guess you could say I found a kindred spirit in Kirsty — she wasn’t afraid to be different, to be honest, and she never presented herself as anything other than her own woman, never pining after a man or allowing their presence to dictate or define her life. I read an interview once where she mentions how she couldn’t relate to what she was hearing on the radio, saying, “so where are all of these pathetic women who can’t live without their man? I don’t know any!” and her attitude comes across beautifully in her music‚ with some of the sharpest, most sarcastic wit I’ve ever heard in song.
In my teens, when I was navigating not only the pressure from school, but also the feelings of heartbreak and unrequited love that are so common at that age, it was refreshing to listen to something that, instead of letting feel sorry for myself, told me not only that things would be okay, but that I was okay as I was, on my own, which when you’re 13 is a game-changer, and it’s an attitude that’s stayed with me ever since.
Nearly 20 years later, Kirsty is still the first artist I go to if I find myself feeling melancholy, and if I’m half as strong-willed and independent as an adult as she was‚ and as I wanted to be when I was nine‚ I’ll be happy.