KCRW, a Los Angeles radio station, has a Guest DJ program, featuring famous folks spinning their favorite records. This week's guest was Jake Gyllenhaal, and his selections focused on the family. Jake discussed his father's musical influence on him, as well as the way music related to his work on Brothers. It's an honest, fascinating glimpse into Jake's influences and experiences. And the audio is now available - it's even better to hear Jake tell these stories and to hear the music.
It's a bit of a tease, because of the categories described, we don't get the last one!
LR: What did you bring to play today?
JG: I brought a few songs that have inspired me in different ways. Some in the car, some on set -- a movie set, and some in bed.
Here are the five tracks Jake chose - note the absence of Trance Hip Hop:
1.) Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band - The River (Live)
2.) Burl Ives - The Fox
3.) Danny Kaye - Inchworm
4.) Saint-Saëns - Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso
5.) Loudon Wainwright III - A Father and a Son
LR: Those are the categories. Which one of these do you listen to on the set?
JG: Actually, I just did this movie with Jim Sheridan called “Brothers” and randomly he picked this song “The River,” by Bruce Springsteen. He picked the live version. During rehearsals he would play it, and then he would play it on set too to get us in the mood of the scene, or he would play it in the middle of the scene. And so there’s this scene in the film where my brother has died and I am with his wife. We don’t get along very well, but as the movie has progressed we’ve started to get along better. We’re sitting together in front of a fire and we end up kissing at the end of the scene, which makes the movie very complex, and Jim decided to play this song, play “The River.”
Song: “The River (live)” by Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band
JG: And what he did after that was he kept the music rolling and Natalie Portman, who plays my brother’s wife in the movie, she leaves the scene. Jim kept the film rolling on and on and on and I just kept listening to this song and by the end of this take, I just start to cry and cry, I couldn’t stop crying. I think a lot of it has to do with, it’s connection to my family, listening to Bruce Springsteen when I was a kid with my dad. My first concert I ever went to was the Born in the USA tour concert and I remember being with my father. I just think the story between father and son and the complications between those two positions in a family has always been a huge thing in my life. That’s also the heart of the movie I was making with Jim Sheridan.
I think FL told us it was "The River" in the script. Interesting that it was the song actually playing when the scene was filmed. It's U2's "Bad" that plays in the movie.
JG: This is “Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso,” by Saint-Saëns, it’s the Philadelphia Orchestra with Sarah Chang. I just imagine the finger work of this soloist and people who play fretless instruments always boggle me. I’m always am amazed like, ‘That has no frets?!’ *laughs* And this in particular, I’m taken so many places with this song. It really broke me out as a kid into the emotions and the intensity of classical music. This is another one of those things where I just remember being in the car and this is something that my father played me, and he’s *imitates his father’s voice* ‘Listen how the violin just dances on top of all the orchestra and then when the orchestra comes in…!’ You know, it’s so intense this song...
JG: My last one is called “A Father and A Son,” by Loudon Wainwright III. Although it’s called “A Father and A Son,” it was actually played for me by my mother first. Loudon Wainwright is extraordinary. Rufus is a friend of mine and I think he’s extraordinary.
LR: He’s amazing
JG: - as is Martha. Alice, too.
LR: I don’t know her.
JG: She has this beautiful song that’s on her MySpace page. She actually was my sister’s nanny. This song somehow encompasses, I guess, what I was saying about family. At the very end, Loudon Wainwright says “Maybe its hate, probably its love.” Man, *chuckles*, that sort of says it. And I think, somehow, the fact that he’s the patriarch of this family that is so kind of extraordinary is something to look up to, something to admire. They are, I know at least publically, they have complications and are open about it and it’s wonderful because we all try and pretend like everything’s ok, or that things are perfect or try to make them the way they’re ‘supposed to be,’ quote unquote, and I think this song is really about him being as honest as he can about his relationship with his son and just loving him deeply.
And to bring it back to Brothers:
JG: Jim Sheridan would always liken everything back to his family. He’d say to me one day, *imitates Jim Sheridan* ‘Jake! You know, you’re playing my brother in this movie so I’m gonna hate ya today. You know, this scene reminded me about my brother and I’m gonna hate ya today!’
I believe there are few things in life that you can guarantee are important and family is one of them. That’s what “Brothers” is about, that’s what a lot of these songs are about for me, and that’s what hopefully my life will be about. So, there ya go, 5 songs, man!
The segment was taped in early September:
As the booker/producer for the Guest DJ Project, I try to keep my list of guests close to the chest. I want listeners to be happily surprised when they find out their favorite chef, director or comedian etc… appears on the show. However, we do tape these in advance and sometimes I have a hard time keeping my mouth shut. This is one of those times, but for very good reason – yesterday we recorded sessions with both Jake Gyllenhaal and Scarlett Johansson. They coincidentally happened to be available on the same day but what really blew my mind was both how personal their stories were about songs that have inspired them and the fact that both expressed a lot of love for the station. Both are fans and were thrilled to be here.
And let's not forget Jake's other recent appearances: the Epix promo, if you missed it. And the hilarious Brothers trio Unscripted.
Please note: I kept the last post open for Brothers questions, if you are okay with spoilers.
(Photos courtesy of IHJ and KCRW.)