Actor Bruce Campbell is known for his starring role in the cult horror comedy franchise the Evil Dead, and now the Ash vs Evil Dead TV series on Starz, where he reprises his role as the reluctant demon fighter. For his Guest DJ set, he picks a couple jukebox jams, a Tom Jones song he uses for motivation and a country favorite. Hosted by Eric J Lawrence.
Photo: Davis Bell
1. Aretha Franklin - Respect
2. Tom Jones - Delilah
3. Hal Ketchum - Small Town Saturday Night
4. Creedence Clearwater Revival - Bad Moon Rising
5. Jim Croce - Time In a Bottle
EJL: Hi I’m Eric J. Lawrence and I’m here with actor, writer and director Bruce Campbell. In addition to TV shows such as Burn Notice and Xena: Warrior Princess and films like the critically acclaimed Bubba Ho-Tep, he is the star of the cult horror comedy franchise the Evil Dead -- and now the Ash vs Evil Dead TV series on Starz, where he reprises his role as the reluctant demon fighter. But, today, we’re here to talk about some songs that have inspired him throughout his life. Bruce, thanks so much for joining us.
BC: You know there are other things in life besides horror.
BC: And music appreciation is one of them.
BC: So I’m very happy to be here because no one asks me about music, EVER. So let’s do it.
EJL: We’re honored to be the first! What’s the first song you got for us?
BC: “Respect”…Aretha Franklin. I like to pick songs that would get the crowd. This gets all the women’s attention in the bar. They all go, “wait someone’s playing this song, shut up!” And then the guys begrudgingly go, “Yeah, okay. Yeah, it’s a cool song.” But it’s also a slamming song at the end of the day. So that’s my any-bar- in-America you can play this song and all the women in the bar will go, “who played that?”
*Song: Aretha Franklin -- Respect*
BC: That time period, that sound, I’m a big Motown fan. It just clicked. This music just jumped. She’s got the pipes. I love singers who can kick it. I grew up in that area so we always had an appreciation for Motown and the music that came out of it. Great, great period for music. Geez louise.
EJL: Well here it is, the jukebox favorite from Aretha Franklin, it’s “Respect”.
EJL: That’s “Respect” by Aretha Franklin selected by our guest Bruce Campbell. What’s the next track you got?
BC: I told you it was slamming. I told you! “Delilah” by Tom Jones. Showing up for location during Burn Notice, we shot in swampy areas a lot -- any abandoned place in Homestead Florida, we shot there. And this one morning was just dreary and bug-filled. It was 6am and it was already hot. We pulled up and it’s always a vision in the night to see our basecamp that these hardworking people set up, all the trailers and everything. I’d come staggering into that trailer and I don’t know what we’ve been shooting, but we were all just wiped out. Tom Jones in general…but “Delilah”, I’d put that on and I’d crank it up. The louder the better. I saw Tom Jones live, and talk about pipes, wow! He’s still got it! And still running his hands across his body lasciviously I might add. But “Delilah” just does it. If you’re hungover, if you’re tired, or you don’t want to go to work, just put on “Delilah”.
EJL: Tom Jones has that magnetism. And I know that you participate in a lot of conventions and fan events. Do people toss articles of clothing up at you onstage?
BC: When I tour my wife laughs in my face. She goes, “you havefun smoking your doobies with your high school guys.” You know, cause it’s not like a, “come on let’s go drink tequila.” They want you to play video games or smoke a little weed or whatever and it’s mostly guys. I married the first woman who ever came onto me, so I mean what do I know about any of that…
EJL: Well done. Well, here’s Tom Jones with “Delilah”.
*Song: Tom Jones -- Delilah*
EJL: That was Tom Jones with “Delilah” as selected by our guest Bruce Campbell.
BC: Don’t you feel better already? Tom Jones!
EJL: What’s the next track you got for us?
BC: “Small Town Saturday Night” by Hal Ketchum. This one’s a little oddball. I did a western series for one season, “The Adventures of Brisco County Jr.” And I just started listening to country. I’m like, “why not? Why not?” I was not a country guy, but let’s do it. And this guy stuck out. He’s not the “God Bless America, shotguns, pickup trucks” kind of Western singer. You know? “Don’t touch my daughter or I’ll shoot you in the eye.” “Small Town Saturday Night”, he’s a good lyricist. And this is just a classic story of literally a small town Saturday night. I grew up in Michigan and we had some property in the middle part of the state, in Gladwin, Michigan. Yes Gladwin, I’m talking about you. And the local guys, they didn’t have anything to do. They would jack the pickup truck up, so they got that done, and then they’d sort of zoom from one end of town to the other. And that took about 13 seconds. And that’s all they did. So this, I thought, kind of nailed it. “Bobby is getting drunk and looking for a fight,” “the world must be flat because when people leave town they never come back.” That must be the only reason they never come back to this town.
EJL: When you hear music is it often the lyrics that hit you first?
BC: Never, it’s never the lyrics, which is why I went, “hey, I guess like Hal Ketchum.” I couldn’t tell you the lyrics of 9/10ths of the songs that I really like a lot. Respect… I know the word respect is in Respect.
EJL: Well, here’s one of those songs from Hal Ketchum, it’s “Small Town Saturday Night”.
*Song: Hal Ketchum – Small Town Saturday Night*
EJL: That was Hal Ketchum with “Small Town Saturday Night”.
BC: Now, you know what NOT to do on a Saturday night.
EJL: As selected by our guest Bruce Campbell. Speaking of small towns, you grew up childhood friends with Sam Raimi who in an important part of your life. You guys clearly must’ve bonded about movies. Did you bond over music as well?
BC: No. I missed the whole sitting with headphones with your buddy kind of… I only had one friend that cared about that and he had a turntable that he cleaned fastidiously. It was the first push the button and it would go over and the needle would drop and we would listen to Bowie. It was all David Bowie. I could care less about David Bowie, but he had a good sound system. You know? So no we didn’t bond over music too much. I don’t know why. In our new show, Ash versus Evil Dead, he has a very distinct Michigan flip side soundtrack, which I like. We’re buying stuff that you’ve heard, but it’s been awhile.
EJL: Well, what’s the next track you got for us?
BC: “Bad Moon Rising”, Creedence Clearwater Revival. I just think John Fogerty’s got a great rock voice. I hate to use classic rock, but to me, that would be in the dictionary of rock and roll singer’s voices, that voice. They had a great run for the 14 months that these guys could stand each other. And this is another one – any bar in America, CCR, the guys’ll perk up and go “Thank God someone’s playing a decent song around here.”
EJL: Well, here it is, the classic CCR with “Bad Moon Rising”.
*Song: Creedence Clearwater Revival – Bad Moon Rising*
EJL: That was Creedence Clearwater Revival with “Bad Moon Rising”, as selected by our guest Bruce Campbell. What’s the last track you got for us?
BC: “Time in a Bottle” Jim Croce. Don’t play this if you like get divorced, or break up, or anything like that. I played this on a loop when I got divorced. But “Time in a Bottle”, again, Croce was a poet, you know? And you can tell in his life, all of his songs are like this. So he’s always slamming doors and jeans drop on the floor and see you later. I don’t think he had a very settled domestic life, but what’s great is torment makes great copy. It makes great songs. I think they break up on purpose for people when they get in a material drought. “I got nothing man. You know what? I’m sick of looking at your face,” and then something happens. And Jim Croce I think the same way. But this, it’s a beautiful song.
EJL: So powerful in the sense that it’s a posthumous single too. He died in a plane crash.
BC: What? Before this came out?
EJL: Literally a couple of months.
BC: That makes it even worse. God. Now I can never listen to this song again. Everyone’s dying! Or getting divorced!
EJL: Well, it is a great song. Number one single from back in the day, “Time in a Bottle.”
*Song: Jim Croce – Time in a Bottle*
EJL: That was Jim Croce with “Time in a Bottle” as selected by our guest Bruce Campbell.
BC: That was number one, huh?
EJL: It was.
BC: Deservedly so.
EJL: It probably would’ve been number one even if he hadn’t passed, but that’s certainly a probability.
BC: Give it a little kick in the ass, you know? I tell my wife, “as soon as I’m gone, the residuals are just gonna go up.”
EJL: Well, Bruce I want to thank you for coming down and joining us.
BC: It’s been my pleasure being a guest DJ.
EJL: For complete track listing and to find these songs online go to KCRW.com/guestDJproject and subscribe to the podcast through iTunes.