Wednesday, December 2, 2009


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.)


UltraViolet said...

Interesting tweet:

Just got an email warning me not to ask Jake Gyllenhaal personal questions when I interview him tomorrow - I heart Jake - so I won't :)

Also, Nathaniel R/Film Experience's take on the Brothers press conference.

Monica said...

I love this:
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.

He is a beautiful person.

Thank you, UV!

bobbyanna said...

Gosh this is an amazing find, UV. Jake reveals so much about himself and his family relationships. I think this movie really affected him. I found it very moving. Music is really a huge part of his soul.
But mostly I'm impressed with what a wise, compassionate heart he has.
Emotionally, very brave too.

I remember the Inchworm song! If it's the one I'm thinking about, it has a very haunting melody. I loved it. Used to play it on the piano for my kids.

"So often you have to create some sort of backstory, but because of the real life…” He trailed off before adding that it got “a little uncomfortable on set sometime because what is real is sometimes what’s being pretended.”

What an intriguing comment.

This whole damned post is making me feel maudlin today!

UltraViolet said...

I also loved that comment, Monica. It was even more poignant in the light of what might be Jake's changing family circumstances.

Bobbyanna, don't you wish they had him do more than five songs! Especially the bed songs :)

Given current events, a lot of these comments do take on a different hue. But it's just fascinating to hear Jake talk about his father and his mother and their influence. And I love the anecdotes of his youth.

FluorescentLamp said...

So I think what I might have said in that other post is because U2 were gracious enough to compose an original song for the end credits of the film, Sheridan probably felt he needed to include some U2 IN the film. Plus, Springsteen rarely grants films the rights to use his music.

UltraViolet said...

Audio works now, kids. It's even better to hear Jake's voice. And the songs.

Anonymous said...

"...what is real is sometimes what is beng pretended."

Maybe he was thinking about his own father and his scenes with
Sam Shepherd.

Chica said...

What an incredible and thoughtful man. I do think he may have been referring to his father during his scenes with Shepherd Anon. Hos playlist ios intriguing.

Great find UV, I can't wait to listen to it.

FluorescentLamp said...

This KCRW appearance/guest DJ stint is so incredibly bittersweet. :-/

lawgoddess said...

This is so great! What a great find!

Jake really is a very thoughtful and sensitive guy. And fun.

I'm going to be listening to this quite a few times, I think.

Thanks so much!

bobbyanna said...

UV, this is really so special! The audio makes it so much better.
Jake is just a lovely person. He brings tears to my eyes.
Had to laugh when he told about his mother suggesting he do a

UltraViolet said...

We've had so much Jake over the last couple of weeks, it's been hard to process it all. I am definitely going to have to listen to this again.

The story about being robbed is so touching. Poor Jake, afraid to go to sleep. And how sweet of his father to sing to him to help him fall asleep.

In later-day Jake news, this bums me out:

paleonard Bummed Gylenhaal is no longer attached to the "Brothers" screening tonight, but excited "An Education" was added to the screening list.

I would like to have heard a report from a Jake screening!

maureen said...

This site has taken over my life!!!! You guys do an amazing job. I'm really looking forward to this movie and I love Jake more every day. He is really a sweet guy!

FluorescentLamp said...

If after listening to the KCRW segment anyone can tell me who
"Alice" is that Jake mentions, I'd be more than grateful.

Anonymous said...

I get the impression that for Jake, the pivotal relationship in Brothers was between Tommy and his father. I also think he and Jim Sheridan got really close by making this movie.

The music choices are odd, but they fit into the themes from the movie Jake was trying to emphasize. Jake is all over the place in his music tastes. I think I probably will enjoy his more modern musical choices.

bobbyanna said...

The only Alice I associate with Loudon, is Alice Cooper, and I don't think he babysat for Maggie.

UltraViolet said...

Welcome, Maureen - glad you're enjoying the place :)

LOL about Alice Wainwright, FL.

Agree with all the comments about how thoughtful Jake is. It's just such a treat to get this insight. I really wish they'd had more than five songs, though.

And come on, no "bed" song! Missed opportunity.

This is too bad: Entertainment Weekly gives Brothers a C+.

UltraViolet said...

Just saw your comment, Bobbyanna. That is a funny/frightening thought!

Office of Nancy Pelosi said...

Juat listening to his voice, sigh What a diverse taste in music he has. The River is one of my all-time favorite album. I will have to take time and listen again.

Thank you so much for finding this treasure UV, what a surprise and a treat.

A review of Brothers from the HuffingtonPost. He didn't like the film much but he has so nice things to say about Jake, Tobey and Natalie:

Anonymous said...

Brothers will be competing with George Clooney and Robert De Niro as well as an action thriller with lots of explosions for box office dollars.

This will be a tough weekend, so it will need all the good reviews it can get.

Shondra said...

Wow, his father influenced his taste in music so much. I'm all ferklempted listening to that!

Such a wide range of songs he chose and all going back to his childhood and growing up.

He's a fan of Danny Kaye, I csn see that. Jake is so goofy, funny, makes the weirdest and funniest faces and seems to mimic anyone he comes in contact with, sounds so much like Kaye!

He revealed so much here, thank you so much for posting this.

I have to go back and read your review of Brothers, thanks for the linkes to the EW review and the Huffington post review, wish they were more positive.

Anonymous said...

Jake on E! Taped, but still...

suvee said...

What a wonderful find, UV! His music choices are fascinating. And listening to his commentary just killed personal, so insightful and, yes, at times bittersweet.

And I got the biggest grin on my face when he talked about Danny Kaye. I have adored Danny K. since childhood.... still do as a matter of fact. I can't tell you how impressed I am that Jake admires him so much. Seriously.... this ranks right up there with finding out he hates cilantro, too. :)

I haven't read your review of Brothers yet. I am trying to hold onto what little element of surprise there might be (after seeing the multitude of different trailers!). But I'm looking forward to reading it once I've seen the movie. I'm so happy that you and FL got to see it early..... couldn't happen to 2 more deserving people.

FluorescentLamp said...

Aww, what a nice thing to say, Suvee. Thank you.

The Danny Kaye mention surprised me. I didn't think anyone of Jake's generation, actor or not, knew who Danny Kaye was! My mom was always fond of Danny Kaye. He had the reputation of being a real mensch, a real nice guy. Sounds familiar.

And so I can put to rest another question in my 20-Things I'd Like To Know About Jake Before I Die book. His first concert was Bruce, Born in the USA tour. God, he must've been like...4 or 5? Those concerts tested the mettle of the most seasoned concert-goers being 3 or sometimes 4 hours long. Egad!

MY first concert was also Bruce Springsteen. Okay, he was a nobody opening for a headliner back in 19XX...but still. :-)

Salon said...

A rave for Brothers from Salon, she specially loves Jake:

"Gyllenhaal gives the finest performance. He's jittery and charismatic -- his eyes shift uncomfortably, as if he were constantly looking for escape"

Anonymous said...

this radio program convinces me. Jake tries very hard always to puzzle out and analyze to understand things that are not always able to be understood. I think he is many times burdened by his concern for the other people and it can be emotionally tiring.
I hope he is always surrounded by love. He is very thoughtful and sensitive.

UltraViolet said...

Yup, Jake is both thoughtful and sensitive, and this radio show is such a good example of it.

And what a great review in Salon. I agree with so much of it - the praise for Jake, of course. But the reviewer is right in saying that they sort of wimp out on the Tommay/Grace attraction. That was a disappointment.

mary said...

stephanie said that jakes sasame street episode wont be shown till dec 11 not the 4th

Anonymous said...

The only Alice I associate with Loudon, is Alice Cooper, and I don't think he babysat for Maggie.

This made me smile. lol :)

FYI said...

Toby Maguire's producing a drama about country singers, starring Tim McGraw ...and Gwyneth Paltrow. Starts filming in January in Nashville.Tobey's not in it.

Marc Malkin of E! interviewed Maggie today probably about her role in the Jeff Bridges movie. Don't know when it will air.

UltraViolet said...

Thanks for the heads-up, Mary! This is a busy week, so I don't mind waiting for the Sesame Street appearance. We certainly have an abundance of Jake to enjoy.

Another audio snippet. If only they'd just play the whole interview!

UltraViolet said...

I'm loath to close this thread, just because I adore this radio post! But we have some new Brothers photos and vids, so new post. Please feel free to continue to discuss the KCRW stint.