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Bobcat Goldthwait wanted to clear up one thing before introducing some of his favorite songs – contrary to what you might have heard, he is not dead. The comedian and filmmaker is very much alive and spotlights a new track by a fellow artist who found fame in the 80's, picks a call-to-arms by a politically-minded UK singer, and shares his journey to find out what a "mojo" is. Goldthwait's latest film is World's Greatest Dad, starring Robin Williams.
Dan Wilcox: Hey this is Dan Wilcox from KCRW and I have the very distinct pleasure of sitting here with comedian and filmmaker Bobcat Goldthwait, whose latest movie World's Greatest Dad stars Robin Williams. We're going to be playing excerpts of songs that have inspired him over the years as part of KCRW's Guest DJ Project. Welcome Bobcat.
Bobcat Goldthwait: Oh and thank you. I'd also like to clear up -- as I'm out and about, I realize that people think I'm dead. So, uh…
DW: (laughs) I can verify that -- right now, this is a real…
BG: We'll see how the interview goes, there might be people at the end going, "Yeah, it still sounds like he's dead."
DW: Okay. Well, I don't think that people are going to think that you're dead because what you're really gonna be doing is you're gonna be talking about a number of songs that you've chosen for us, so let's dive in to the first one -- what's the first track?
BG: This song is "Waiting for the Great Leap Forward." I'm a large Billy Bragg fan, so when I got asked to do your show, I went to my iPod and saw which song comes up the most and this is the song that comes up the most. And every time I hear this song, I always get chills at the end. I don't know if you're familiar with this song, but it's very stirring. It's asking you to… it's asking all of us to be responsible and it's a call to arms, you know –‘if you got a black list, I wanna be on it, the revolution's a t-shirt away.' I always listen to it and I always get emotional and then I usually don't do anything afterwards. I usually watch The Real Housewives of New Jersey instead of getting very political. This song always chokes me up, so I'm a big fan of Billy Bragg and this is the song that I always listen to.
Song: Billy Bragg's "Waiting for the Great Leap Forward"
DW: Okay, that was Billy Bragg with the song, "Waiting for the Great Leap Forward". Next up, we've got The Kinks with "The Hard Way." Now, how did you discover this song?
BG: As a kid, I discovered The Kinks when I was in my early teens, so I went back and started listening to their music and the music that was coming out at the same time. In the 70's, they did an album called Schoolboys in Disgrace. I listened to that album a million times and it was always a dream of mine to make it into a movie. So, I recently met with Ray and it was really a horrible meeting. (laughs) I was sweating and I finally stopped in the middle of the meeting and I said, "Have you ever seen the sketch with Chris Farley where it's The Chris Farley Show and he would have Paul McCartney on it?" And he knew the sketch. You know, "Remember when you were in The Beatles -- yeah, that was cool." I go, "Well, that's what this is for me." You know, because I couldn't talk. I felt bad for the man I'm meeting -- like I could see him just going, "What an odd little man…He has yet to complete a thought."
So, I gave him a copy of the new movie, World's Greatest Dad, and his agent was really funny, his agent goes, "Look, Ray's a really great guy…he's not gonna watch your movie." And so, he actually went home and he did watch the movie and the next day I got a call saying, "Yeah, Ray's in, he likes the idea." Cause Ray was asking, "Well, who would you make this movie for, if you made a musical of Schoolboys in Disgrace? And I said, "I would make this movie for all the kids who f**king hate High School Musical." And then I actually say him smile a little bit. So, at least I got his blessing, and I really hope someday I actually make it as a movie.
Song: The Kinks' "The Hard Way"
DW: Okay, that was "The Hard Way" by The Kinks. I'm sitting here with Bobcat Goldthwait and let's move onto our next track. What have you got for us?
BG: This song -- I don't even know if we have permission to play it, so that's exciting. It's a song by Bruce Hornsby. Well, he wrote the new song, it wasn't released yet and then it fit really, really well, I think, with the movie I just made, World's Greatest Dad. When I was making this movie, I kind of always thought of movies like a Hal Ashby movie. I would say like Harold & Maude would be the biggest influence on this movie. And I liked other movies like Midnight Cowboy, those early 70's movies where you would actually have contemporary artists with music that the lyrics actually reflected what was going on in the screen. And Bruce got involved in the movie and I'm really surprised at how much of his music is in the movie and sometimes it's actually just driving the story along. He's a super talented guy and stuff and so the idea of another guy from the 80's that people have a perception of, and then us doing something a little different, you know, I'm excited.
Song: Bruce Hornsby's "Invisible"
DW: Alright, that was Bruce Hornsby's track, "Invisible." This is something that can be found in Bobcat Goldthwait's latest movie, World's Greatest Dad. And let's move on to the next track.
BG: I wanted to play "Mannish Boy" by Muddy Waters for a couple of reasons. When I was growing up, I grew up with Tom Kenny -- who's a comedian and we've known each other since we were six years old. But Tommy, most people are familiar with him because he's the voice of Sponge Bob Squarepants, but he also plays the evil, coke-sniffing, violent clown-- Binky the Clown -- in my fine, alcoholic clown opus, Shakes the Clown. When we were teenagers, I think I was more into garage rock and punk rock and Tommy was really more into roots music. Tommy was listening to Muddy Waters and he's always referencing a "mojo" -- you know, ‘I got my mojo working.' So, Tommy was trying to find out what a mojo was and he really became -- it wasn't even a comedic thing -- he really was in libraries and would ask everybody. He went to the priest at our school and asked what a mojo was and nobody would tell him what a mojo was. So, we were teenagers and Muddy Waters is performing in a bar and we sneak in underage and then after the show, Tom has got an album and Tom actually goes, "Mr. McKinley," I think its Morgenfield or McKinley I can't remember --
DW: Yeah, his real name --
BG: and he called him by his real name, and he goes, "Well, I haven't heard that in a while," and he came over and he signed it. Tom goes, "I have to know, what is a mojo?" And Muddy Waters says to us, he goes, "Hmmm…I don't rightly know."
Song: Muddy Waters' "Mannish Boy"
BG: This is the older version. I really like it because you can hear the speakers blowing out-- it's all high end, it's really nice. This is way before Beck, it's just all (makes loud noise.) And I really like the fact that it's one of the ultimate ‘getting ready to do battle and kick ass songs of all time.' I just thought it was funny to kind of parody movies where there's always a montage of the hero getting ready to do battle and they would use the song and they would actually use "Mannish Boy."
DW: That was "Mannish Boy" from Mr. Muddy Waters and we're going to dive into our next song here, which is something I've never heard of before so why don't you tell us about it.
BG: Well, there was a blog, Snarky Malarkey – it's a long story how I ended up on Snarky Malarkey and it involves my obsession with little animals and clothes, and this was a cat wig site with kitty wigs and stuff. So I found this song. Often when making a movie, it's really kind of tiring, it's a little bit crabby and stuff so I like to play music. This is a song that I found and I just started playing it on the set during the making of World's Greatest Dad because it's really hard to be pissed off when this song is on.
Song: I'm a Cha-Cha-Cha-Chihuahua
DW: What's the story behind this song?
BG: I don't know who made it. I think someone did like an album of dogs, that's what I think it is, like songs about different breeds of dogs. But what I really like about this, if you listen, clearly the guy is a super white guy doing a Mexican accent or a very Anglo Mexican doing a Mexican accent. The real beauty of this song is that you don't really have to play it all the way in its entirety. In fact, anyone listening to this broadcast, thank me now, because this f**kin song is going to be in your head for the rest of the day.
DW: OK Bobcat, that was very cool to hear and go through all your picks. I appreciate you coming in here
BG: (laughs) And I know I'm going to run into people who are like ‘I can't get that song out of my head.'