Seven Songs: Callum Beattie

The Scottish singer-songwriter tells us what’s on his playlist – from Elton John and Lennon to Paolo and Zeppelin

It’s a wonder Callum Beattie isn’t banned from playing festivals. Getting his big break by sneaking onto the mainstage during REM’s set at T In The Park (using the high vis jacket he wore pushing trolleys at Tesco), Beattie almost got kicked out of this year’s TRNSMT by trying to get a photo with Nile Rogers. 

“I knocked on his dressing room door and his manager just went crazy at me,” laughs Beattie. “She was like, ‘you can’t just do that! You can’t walking intp people’s dressing rooms!”. But I did tap on the door y’know?  So I ran off. But luckily I managed to get a photo with Nile backstage after my own set.”

Now very much earning his own mainstage slot after trying to hijack Michael Stipe’s, Beattie is right in the middle of his busiest year to date – playing TRNSMT before embarking on the Revive Live tour and preparing to release his second album, Vandals, on 28 October. 

“I’m absolutely buzzing for it,” he says. “My first record was kind of almost like a mixtape. It was just songs that I’d written. I used to write a lot of songs for pop bands and then I kind of got made to sing the ones I didn’t like… But this time I feel like I’ve got a chance to actually just record and write and release the music that I love, you know?”

We asked Callum Beattie to pick the seven songs that continue to inspire him the most. 

The song that makes me happy

‘I’m Still Standing’. It’s the only song to pick me up if I’m feeling low, and it’s a great wee party bounce as well. My dad brought me up on a magical record cupboard full of vinyls and I used to just go through them all, deciding if I liked them or not. That, or just whether or not I liked the album cover. 

The song that makes me cry

‘Your Song’ would be in there. I don’t know why we’re getting a load of Elton today but we are. Buy actually it’s ‘Time To Say Goodbye’. That’s just unbelievable. I think it’s the strings that get me, but it’s the emotion of it too. Even though it’s in Italian you don’t even really need to know what they’re saying. You just feel it. It’s so powerful. 

The song that reminds me of my childhood

There’s an old Scottish song called ‘Ally Bally’ [‘Coulter’s Candy’]. My granny used to sing it to me and she actually passed away yesterday, bless her heart. She was 92, and she used to drink half a bottle of vodka a day, so I think she did pretty well! But she used to sit and sing this song “Ally bally bally bally be, sittin’ on yerr mammy’s knee. Greetin’ for a wee baw bee, Tae buy some Coulter’s candy”. It’s just a stupid wee song but I love it. 

The song that reminds me of being in love

When I was with my first girlfriend at school our favourite song was ‘Open Your Eyes’ by Snow Patrol. We used to just lie under the covers singing that and I was always waiting on it getting to the next level, because I was desperate to lose my virginity, but it never quite happened! 

I like Snow Patrol, and I don’t understand it when people are hard on them. I don’t get the Coldplay thing either really. Like, I get it, because they went really pop, but Chris Martin is a phenomenal songwriter. And I really hate the people that turn their nose up at Coldplay but go mad over Radiohead. Radiohead have a lot of great songs but they’ve got a lot of rotten ones as well. It’s just a little bit pretentious for me, so I’m kinda in the middle somewhere.

The song I wish I’d written

‘Stairway To Heaven’ by Led Zeppelin is just masterpiece. I don’t really know if there are many songs that would ever beat it. It’s got everything. It’s got melody. It’s got emotion. It’s pure rock and roll. I’m lost for words. 

The last song you listened to

The last song I actually listened to was my own, as I literally just got a mix back. But before that I was listening to fellow Scotsman Paolo Nutini. He’s got a song on his new album called ‘Writer’, and it’s the last track on Last Night In The Bittersweet. It basically just tells a story but it’s exactly what I’m living through right now. It’s almost like the guy wrote it for me and I just absolutely love it.

The one song I could listen to forever 

John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’. I think it’s more than a song. It’s a lesson. I think it should be the new Bible. They should scrap the Bible and just print the lyrics to ‘Imagine’. It’s just beautiful, isn’t it? And it just says everything. I’m quite a sensitive dude, and I can’t understand why humans do things in the world that they do. I think before you become prime minister or President of any country, you should be made to study the lyrics of ‘Imagine’ for three years, every day, before you have any power. The world would be a better place. 

Callum Beattie is playing Party At The Palace on August 13-14, before joining the Revive Live tour in September, and returning with his own headline shows in November. Find tickets for all shows here.