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Academy Award nominee Lee Daniels directed and produced Precious. In his Guest DJ set, he shares the story behind a song used in a monumental scene in the highly regarded film, as well as personal favorites ranging from disco to gospel and even a children’s classic. From his youth in the projects to a heart attack in his 30s to his recent success, music has played a significant role. Precious is now available on DVD and Daniels will be directing the upcoming film Selma.
1.) Was That All It Was - Jean Carn
2.) In My Own Little Corner - Lesley Ann Warren
3.) He's a Friend - Eddi Kendricks
4.) Let 'em In - Billy Paul
5.) I Want to Ride That Glory Train - The Abyssinian Baptist Choir
Chris Douridas: Hi, I'm Chris Douridas and I'm here with Lee Daniels, who directed and produced the highly regarded film “Precious,” welcome.
Lee Daniels: Thank you for having me.
CD: Absolutely. We're going to be playing excerpts of songs that you've selected that have helped inspire you over the years, its all part of KCRW's Guest DJ Project. What is first up on the list here?
LD: Jean Carn's "Was That All There Was" -- which I use in my film “Precious.” And I use it after Precious and her mother get into their first fight as the mother, played by Mo'Nique, is in the mirror dancing, looking at herself, putting on wigs in her tight little spandex number. It's seductive, it's moody, it's sexy, and it's inappropriately placed. I wanted the fight to also be sort of sexy and telling of a woman who also wanted to dream. Because Precious is always dreaming, but I wanted Mary to dream and I knew that the scene had to be surrounded by that song.
Song: “Was That All It Was" by Jean Carn
LD: I love her, I love her. I met her once, Jean Carn, and I was in utter awe. There have only been two people that I've been utter awe of and it was she and Susan Lucci. This just reminds me of many, many one night stands that I had in the '80s and '90s. A moment just in time, was that all there was, a moment just in time? A momentary thing not worth remembering in the morning, countless faces I can't remember.
CD: Jean Carn, 1979, "Was That All It Was." It's from the album “When I Find You Love,” part of the Guest DJ set of Lee Daniels. I'm Chris Douridas, it's KCRW's Guest DJ Project. Moving along to one that really thrilled me when I saw it on the list.
LD: It's from the soundtrack from Cinderella, Rogers and Hammerstein's telemovie.
CD: This was on television like at least once a year, every year, at least when I was growing up.
LD: Every year for many, many years because I remember identifying with the song even when it was there that I would imagine that I wasn’t in the projects and I would imagine in my own little corner, in my own little chair, I can be whatever I want to be. And it stuck with me throughout my adulthood. I think that's the power that God has given me, my imagination.
Song: "In My Own Little Corner" by Leslie Ann Warren
CD: Since this is a song that impacted you so much when you were a kid, is this something you'd play for your own kids?
LD: If I sang this to my kids, they would throw something at me.
CD: "In My Own Little Corner" -- that's Leslie Ann Warren from the teleplay version of Cinderella -- Rogers and Hammerstein version, not to be confused with the Disney version. Different songs, different lyrics. Lee Daniels is with us, it's KCRW's Guest DJ Project, I'm Chris Douridas. The next song is…
LD: "He's a Friend" by Eddie Kendricks. Now, I had a heart attack in my 30’s and it was my life story. I woke up and I prayed to God and I never looked back. I found Jesus.
Song: "He's a Friend" by Eddie Kendricks
LD: ‘There was a time I didn't believe at all. Then one day, I had to give him a call. There I was lying flat on my back. The doctor said – ooh --you had a heart attack.’ That's exactly what happened!
I knew the song when it came out. I was a sophomore in Junior High School. I was dancing to it and I didn’t know that would be my life many years later. The words didn't have the meaning that they had until after the heart attack, then I was like - whoa.
CD: 1976, "He's a Friend," from Eddie Kendricks. It's from the album with the same name, part of the Guest DJ project set of Lee Daniels, director, producer of “Precious.” I'm Chris Douridas, it's KCRW.com. Another one from 1976, if we're going to bounce around, is from Billy Paul.
LD: What I was most impressed with by this was the mixture of - and the power of -- Martin Luther King's speeches and Malcolm X's speeches that were interwoven into the words. ‘Someone is knocking at the door, someone's ringing the bell, do me a favor open the door and let them in.’
CD: You know, I seriously doubt that Paul McCartney had that in mind when he wrote the song.
LD: I didn't know that. (laughs)
LD: I thought that Billy Paul…
CD: I love that you didn't realize that, because that just tells you how much Billy Paul owns this song right?
LD: Oh he owned it, he took it home.
Song: "Let 'Em In" by Billy Paul
CD: Billy Paul's "Let 'Em In," this is the Paul McCartney song owned by Billy Paul. It's on the album "Let 'Em In," part of the Guest DJ Project with our guest Lee Daniels on KCRW.
CD: The song that remains on this list, I think, is yet another powerful piece, coming from one of the great albums of gospel music ever put together. You really landed on one of the great ones. And I think it's a great way to close. What made you want to put this on the list?
LD: Well, my friend Lenny Kravitz turned me on to it. It has always stayed with me, "I want to ride that glory train," you know. I think that, you know, we aspire so hard sometimes that we forget that there's an afterlife. And I want to do good here on earth so I can get to that afterlife
Song: "I Want To Ride That Glory Train" by The Abyssinian Baptist Choir
CD: 120 Voices, it's called "I Want To Ride That Glory Train," The Abyssinian Baptist Choir. It's Lee Daniels' Guest DJ Project set on KCRW.
CD: I think that what you're doing is important work and its powerful work and we look forward to what’s to come. What is to come?
LD: What is to come… *starts singing* I want to ride that glory train, welllll I want to ride that glory train! Whoa Lord! I want to ride that glory train!
CD: For a complete track listing and to find these songs online, you can go to KCRW.com/GuestDJProject