‘No Jacket Required would be the soundtrack of hell’: the Rev Richard Coles’s honest playlist

The former Communard says he knows every word to Jesus Christ Superstar – what else does he listen to away from the pulpit?

The Rev Richard Coles.

Songs of praise … the Rev Richard Coles. Photograph: Fabio De Paola/Shutterstock

Rich Pelley

As told to Rich PelleyMon 10 Jan 2022 07.00 GMT

The first song I remember hearing
My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean, from a multi-coloured vinyl kids’ album. I liked it so much, I dressed up like the kid in the John Lewis advert and danced around the sunroom to the song in a bedspread and headdress to entertain my mother’s knit and natter group, but they just looked puzzled.

The song I inexplicably know every lyric to
I grew up in Kettering. We didn’t have culture. The nearest we got was Andrew Lloyd Webber. I went to see Jesus Christ Superstar, got the album, then the sheet music. So I probably know every word.

The first single I bought
Emma by Hot Chocolate, from Woolworths. I liked the lyrics: “I’m gonna write your name high on that silver screen.

The song that’s my karaoke go-to
I avoid karaoke at all costs. The last time I did it was at theological college. We pulled in at a pub in a post-industrial town in West Yorkshire, but they didn’t want Christmas carols, so I ended up singing Olivia Newton-John’s part from You’re the One That I Want. A fellow ordain from Liverpool called Degsy was John Travolta.

The song I can no longer listen to
This Charming Man. Much as I like the song, Morrissey has ceased to be charming for me.

The best song to play at a party
I really like Making Plans for Nigel by XTC. It would probably get me to go home sooner, which I’m always looking for at a party.

The song I last streamed
A Hymn for St Cecilia by Herbert Howells. On St Cecilia’s day – the patron saint of music – last year, I used the song in morning prayer. It’s such a beautiful setting, I’ve played it five times since.

The song I secretly like, but tell everyone I hate
I would never admit to liking Phil Collins. No Jacket Required would be the soundtrack of hell, I think. But secretly I like Phil Collins, and secretly I really liked Against All Odds

The best song to have sex to
Well, it’s been a while. So I’ll say Soul II Soul’s Back to Life (However Do You Want Me).

The song I wish I had written
Don’t Leave Me This Way by the Communards. We sold an awful lot of records of it, but we didn’t write it. If we had, I’d have a much bigger pension.

The song I want played at my funeral
All 15 hours of all four of Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen operas.

The rerelease of Communards by the Communards is out now.

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