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Actor Jason Segel stars in the long running CBS series "How I Met Your Mother" and was responsible for bringing The Muppets back to the big screen. In his Guest DJ set, he shares the inspirational musical number he listens to before he hits the stage as well as the “best song every written” and the “weirdest song of all time”.
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1. Van Morrison - Astral Weeks
2. Bruce Springsteen - Thunder Road
3. Queen - Bohemian Rhapsody
4. Billy Joel - Piano Man
5. Les Miserables - One Day More
Dan Wilcox: This is Dan Wilcox of KCRW and I have the pleasure of sitting here with actor Jason Segel, star of the long running CBS series "How I met Your Mother" as well as many movies.
Jason Segel: Best show ever.
DW: He brought us the Muppets, brought it back to the big screen last year, and music was obviously a huge part of it. Today we're going to be talking to him about the songs that have inspired him over the years as part of KCRW's Guest DJ Project. Welcome Jason.
Jason Segel: Thank you.
DW: So, what have you brought for us, today?
JS: I brought potentially the best five songs of all time.
DW: Potentially? And we're going to decide, at some point?
JS: Well, you know, we'll let the audience listen.
DW: That sounds good. Okay, what’s your first song that you selected?
JS: The first song is "Astral Weeks" by Van Morrison. It's Van Morrison's first album. What slaughters me about this is he's 23 years old, I believe, when this album came out. He's just a young dude. I remember being 23 and this album just poured out of him. And honestly, whenever I'm feeling a little disconnected from reality, I put on this album and it reminds me of the best version of myself.
Song: "Astral Weeks" - Van Morrison
JS: There are seven songs on this album, I believe. I could have picked any one of them because they're all perfect and they all tell a story.
On the LP, you know the old days of records, it's listed…the front side of the album is called Before. The second side of the album is called After. My interpretation has always been that it’s about falling in love. The first part is the anticipation of meeting someone and then the after side is when it doesn't go so well, which is what always happens with me. And it's just a perfect album, from a 23 year old kid.
DW: "Ok that was Van Morrison with the song Astral Weeks. Jason what do you have next for us."
JS: The next song is my brother's favorite song: “Thunder Road” by Bruce Springsteen. Proper tough dude theoretically. Like a working class kinda dude."
DW: Your brother or…?
JS: No. Bruce Springsteen.
JS: And yet he's willing to pour his heart out and talk about love and vulnerability. But he is a working class New Jersey kinda dude. And “Thunder Road” it just always slaughtered me since I was young and it meant a lot that it was my brother's favorite song, who listened to it constantly. My brother’s kind of my idol. I look up to my older brother. He taught me, he taught me about everything. Part of it was about music and Thunder Road was his, it was his jam. But it was always very compelling to me to watch a theoretical tough dude sing about love very vulnerably
Song: “Thunder Road” - Bruce Springsteen
DW: We just heard Bruce Springsteen's Thunder Road and that was selected by Jason Segel. Jason, what's next for us?
JS: The next one is Bohemian Rhapsody. This is a song that I am incredibly jealous of. It's why I chose it. Every time I listen to this song I wish I had written it.
Song: “Bohemian Rhapsody” – Queen
JS: Here is what I imagine when I listen to “Bohemian Rhapsody”. The morning after you’ve stayed up all night and you bring your friends over and your like ‘Hey guys, will you listen to this thing that I made last night. I don’t know. I don’t know if it's that good or not. It's kinda weird.’
And then I imagine playing Bohemian Rhapsody. When I'm alone and I fantasize about this song, that’s the scenario -- that I made it the night before alone in my house and that I play it for people and they're like ‘holy moly, this guy is the weirdest genius ever’. I just remember listening to it thinking these are kindred spirits. They just went for it.
It's the weirdest song of all time. And it's perfect.
DW: That was Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody. So Jason Segel, what's next on your list of selections.
JS: The next song is by any stretch the best song ever written: Piano Man by Billy Joel.
I realized very young girls like musicians. I learned to play piano by myself at 16 years old just because I thought girls would find it attractive and I learned to play “Piano Man” like really young. And, for all the dumb girls, I would play it and say that I had written it.
DW: (Laughs) Nice.
DW: And they believed you.
JS: They totally believed it.
DW: They bought it.
JS: Yeah, I wrote Piano Man. To like five girls in high school, I wrote the best song of all time.
Song: Piano Man – Billy Joel
JS: It's super honest and the way that I imagine it …I was out of work from age 20 to 25 when I was sure that I was a really good actor, but I still wasn't getting parts. I picture Billy Joel - I don’t know if this is true but it's how I always pictured it - as a struggling musician.
DW: It is true.
JS: Yeah and I bet, in his brain, he's like ‘I'm the best ever’ but your still in that out of work period I listen to Piano Man and the lyrics and I think: this is when the best musician around was struggling. I think that’s super inspirational. The struggling period of my life meant a lot to me, so that’s my favorite thing.
Piano Man - Billy Joel pays
DW: Okay, that was Billy Joel's "Piano Man" sitting here with Jason Segel. What is the last song you've got for us?
JS: The next song is "One Day More" from Les Miserables.
I went out on a first date in New York and I brought the girl to see Les Miserables. I thought ‘hey, this'll be good. Take a girl to a play. First date.’ Cut to the end of Les Miserables, I am crying uncontrollably. It's maybe the most embarrassing moment of my life. Weeping, the way that a kid cries when they've hit their head, like just couldn't stop it.
At one point she thought it was, ‘oh, he's so emotional and it's so nice’, but you cut to an hour later, and I can't stop crying, and she's laughing hysterically. We're on the street corner and I'm still crying because Jean Valjean is dead.
But "One Day More", since then, I listen to it before I go one stage or before I act, just without fail. It really inspires me. It's just the most inspirational musical number of all time.
One Day More- Les Miserables plays
DW: That was from Les Miserables, we heard the song “One Day More” as chosen by today's guest DJ, as part of KCRW's Guest DJ Project. Jason Segel. Thank you so much.
JS: Thank you Dan.
DW: For a complete track listing to find these songs online go to kcrw.com/guestdjproject and subscribe to the podcast through iTunes