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As part of the comedy duo “Tim and Eric”, comedian Tim Heidecker has created a number of hilarious TV shows, but he takes music seriously. He shares the gateway artist into his favorite 70’s records, lets us in on a little known alt-country band and ruminates on the lyrical wit of Pavement and Guided by Voices. Tim stars in “Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie” out next year and “The Comedy”, which will screen at the Sundance Film Festival.
For More: http://www.timanderic.com
1. Harry Nilsson = Living Without You
2. Guided By Voices - Game of Pricks
3. Pavement - Silence Kit
4. Jesus Christ Superstar - Gethsemane (studio recording)
5. The Dillards - Hey Boys
EJ: Hi, I’m Eric J. Lawrence, and I’m here with comedian Tim Heidecker, who along with partner Eric Wareheim has created a number of surreally hilarious TV shows, including Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! Today, we’re going to talk about some songs he’s selected that have inspired him over the years as part of KCRW’s Guest DJ Project. Tim, thank you for coming down.
TH: Thanks for having me.
EJ: What’s the first track you have for us?
TH: The first track I have is Harry Nilsson, “Living Without You”, from an album that he did that’s called “Nilsson Sings Newman”.
I really wasn’t aware of Randy Newman -- I mean, I guess I knew who he was in terms of “Toy Story” movies and the scores he had done -- but I didn’t really know him as the songwriter that he was. And I was a fan of Nilsson and had gotten this greatest hits Nilsson record and this song came on and discovered that it was actually a Randy Newman song and that was kind of my entry into the past couple years discovering “Good ‘Ol Boys” and “Sail Away” and all those ‘70s records that were just absolute revelation to me.
It was discovering a whole new treasure chest of music that I listen to all the time.
Song: “Living Without You” -- Harry Nilsson
TH: There’s one really funny thing to me about this song is at the very end, Harry Nilsson, who does all that stacked vocals, the harmonies and stuff, at the very end he like belts out the very last, like an “Ahhhhh”. It cuts through every other harmony, so it’s really obnoxious and they didn’t fade it out at the end, so it just rings out like this gospel singer and it’s totally inappropriate for this song.
EJ: That was Harry Nillson with “Living Without You” from his “Nilsson Sings Newman” collection. What’s the next selection you have for us?
TH: Well, jumping into the ‘90s with Guided by Voices, “Game of Pricks” -- because I wanted to say ‘pricks’ on the radio – “from Alien Lanes”.
And I picked this because I felt that it was one of a couple of bands that brought me out of just listening to music of the past. I found that there were people making music now -- Robert Pollard was certainly not of my age, but he was of my time -- and was making music in their basement. I guess he was also probably one of the first ‘rock stars’ that I ever met, because when we were in college we would go see those guys and hung out with them afterwards and he was kind of an idol of mine.
And lyrically, it’s an awesome record. “Alien Lanes” is just like this amazing collection of short stories and we used to sit there and listen to it and read the lyrics along and it was a thing some friends of ours would do instead of watching a movie or something, we’d sit and listen to that record. And I can own it as something from my generation.
Song: Game of Pricks -- Guided by Voices
EJ: That was Guided by Voices, with “Game of Pricks” as selected by our guest, Tim Heidecker. What’s the next track you’ve got for us?
TH: Back to this sort of Guided by Voices era we have Pavement, “Silence Kit”, from “Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain”.
There was a lot of hard core and a lot of pop punk going around amongst my friends and none of it, like the hard core stuff always made me really depressed and tired. It made me exhausted listening to it. I could never really get into it. And then I heard Pavement and it made sense to me and I loved the breaks in it and I love how sloppy it is, but it’s also full of great pop melodies and it sounds very similar to Guided by Voices, I guess.
EJ: Pavement has a particular lyrical perspective from Steven Malkmus and the gang that is very much reliant on wit and sly approach to song writing. Is that part of the appeal for you? Does that sort of tie in at all to your own…
TH: Yeah, I would have listened to music and I like words, I like listening to songs that have something to say or are coming from a point of view. Randy Newman is amazing for that, you can listen to that like you listen to a book on tape.
And yeah, Pavement, that song on this record, the line about the Smashing Pumpkins, and that was like a huge, cool thing when I heard that when I was a kid, because Smashing Pumpkins were this huge band and here was this infidel cutting them down a notch. And it was like, yeah, that’s like me, I feel like I don’t GET anything. And this is the way Malkmus sounded to me, like he was just sick and tired of all the crap. So yeah, lyrics are really important and it’s important when their done with a sense of humor and not being didactic, or yelling at your or telling you how to feel, being smart about it.
Song: Silence Kit -- Pavement
EJ: That was Pavement, with the song Silence Kit. What’s the next track you’ve got for me?
TH: The next track is “Gethsemane, I Only Want to Say”, from the rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar -- from the original studio recording, not from the movie soundtrack, very big difference. I picked I guess for a couple of different reasons. One is, when I was a kid, I have really clear memories of singing along with this, and sort of making fun of it, but also sort of loving it. I remember seeing a production of it in New Hope, which was about an hour away from where I lived, and it was like the dinner theater version of this. The band consisted of a piano player, a drummer and a guitar player. The singers were not professional. And the singing on this record, I mean in particular Judas’ song, Murray Head, is like, I mean the guy, from what I heard I don’t know if this is true, but he like ruined his, he destroyed his voice singing this song.
And you go to see the dinner theater version of it and all the high stuff is all done in falsetto. So it’s like (sings in falsetto) JESUS, IS TALKING ABOUT HIS…..and it’s really horrible. So we used to laugh about doing a production of it with microphones taped to our chests and doing like the worst version of it, because it’s so great, but when not done properly, it’s so bad. But it’s also like a great song and it’s ridiculous and over the top, but also kind of meaningful. I don’t know what the band was that played on that record, but they were really good.
Song: “Gethsemane, I Only Want to Say” – Jesus Christ Superstar
EJ: A track called “Gethsemane, I Only Want to Say”, from the studio recording Jesus Christ Superstar. Tim, what’s your final pick for us?
TH: The Dillards, “Hey Boys”, from the album “Wheat Straw Suite”.
I’d been getting more and more interested in country music, alternative country, whatever you want to call it, that sort of ‘60s Gram Parsons kind of stuff. Then we were in Nashville, playing a show as Tim and Eric, and met some people that lived down there, and we started talking about ‘oh I love Gram Parsons and some of the later Birds albums and that sort of mix of country and rock’, and they’re like ‘oh you know about the Dillards’. And I’ve never heard of the Dillards and they’re like ‘you’ve got to get the Dillards’. So I did my research and get this album, which is an amazing album, it’s just perfect.
And, I guess, they were some of the first guys that weren’t from the South making Country music, you know coming out of Berkeley or whatever, but it really being authentic and influencing a lot of other people. And this song is just really fun and it makes you feel good and it evokes a certain time and a certain place. It’s kind of silly, beautifully sung. It’s got a Beach Boys weird harmony going on with it. I don’t know. It’s an important record and I don’t think a lot of people know about it. I certainly didn’t.
Song: Hey Boys – The Dillards
EJ: Tim I want to thank you so much for coming down.
TH: I want to thank you and I apologize if I wasn’t funny at all. But I feel like this is very serious business and I don’t want to mess around and make fun of these geniuses we talked about. Thanks for having me.
EJ: It was great.