Actress Busy Philipps stars in the ABC comedy Cougar Town and shares the highlights of her life – from high school to becoming a mom – with sentimental song picks. In her Guest DJ set, she calls Modest Mouse “perfect desert driving music” and names Elvis Perkins’ “While You Were Sleeping” as the ideal soundtrack to bonding with her newborn baby. Cougar Town is currently in its second season.
For More: http://abc.go.com/shows/cougar-town
1. Tori Amos - China
2. Modest Mouse - Trailer Trash
3. The Zombies - This Will Be Our Year
4. David Karsten Daniels - The Dream Before The RIng That Woke Me
5. Elvis Perkins - While You Were Sleeping
Marion Hodges: Hi, I’m Marion Hodges and I’m here with actress, Busy Philipps, best known for her roles in “Freaks & Geeks” and “Dawson’s Creek”. She currently stars in the ABC comedy, “Cougar Town”. Today, we will be playing excerpts of songs she’s selected that have inspired her over the years as part of KCRW’s Guest DJ Project. So, Busy, hi. Welcome. Thanks so much for coming down to the basement here at KCRW and hanging out for a minute.
Busy Philipps: Thanks for having me.
MH: So, what did you bring for us?
BP: The first song that I chose is a song by Tori Amos.
It’s “China” from “Little Earthquakes”. I think I was 14 or 15, and my Dad gave me Tori Amos’ “Little Earthquakes” and the Red House Painters’
CD, “Red House Painters”, and those two CDs sort of carried me through my musical journey from then on out. Tori Amos, in particular, kind of really helped me through my, you know, teenage girl years, as I think she does for a lot of girls.
BP: I think, lyrically, a lot of times, Tori Amos gets a little out there and you sort of, you know, it’s very poetic and you have a hard time discerning stories from it, but it’s free and open to interpretation, obviously, which is why it’s so great.
But the song, “China” was always, really, for some reason, to me, when I would listen to it, I had a very specific story in my head, which was of a boozy housewife from the’50s, who was kind of drunk and really unhappy in her marriage and her life with her husband and was trying to get through to him. I don’t why, as a 15 year old, that was the story in my head for this song, but it was. And still, to this day, whenever I hear the song, that’s what I think of.
MH: We’ve just heard “China” by Tori Amos. What are we going to hear next, Busy?
BP: Well, now we have to move to college. That was my high school pick and now we’re going to college. For me, Modest Mouse was my favorite band in college. I think I saw them, like, eight times or something during the brief time I spent in college, before I started “Freaks and Geeks”.
The song, “Trailer Trash” was always one of my favorites. I actually had three Modest Mouse songs that it was really hard for me to choose from, but “Lonesome Crowded West” and “This is a “Long Drive For Someone With Nothing to Think About” were the two albums that I loved the most when I was in college. I’m from Arizona originally, and I came to college out here in Los Angeles, and I would have these long drives back and forth for holidays or going to visit my friends who had stayed in Arizona or my family on the weekends and I would listen to those albums as I was driving through the desert, which is like, it’s perfect desert driving music.
And a lot of times I would drive at night, which is totally weird and now, you know, I have a daughter of my own and I would never let her drive at night. I suppose my parents were like, “What are you going to do? She’s going to do it.” I was 19 and I was doing what I wanted to, but just like, driving through the desert, smoking cigarettes, listening to Modest Mouse…
MH: We’ve just heard “Trailer Trash” by Modest Mouse. You’re listening to KCRW’s Guest DJ Project. I’m Marion Hodges, here with actress, Busy Philipps. So, what are we going to hear next?
BP: Well, I guess we have to move on to my early-mid-twenties and that was the time when I was getting into a lot of older bands. I was living in North Carolina, doing “Dawson’s Creek” and there was this record store called CD Alley. The guy who owned it was this amazing guy, Fred.
I would go in there, sort of bored. I didn’t have many friends in Wilmington, and Fred would talk to me about music and ask me what kind of bands I was into. “Oh, I like Modest Mouse. Or I like this or I like that…” And then he would just fill up a cart with CDs and records for me to take back to my apartment and listen to, and it was the greatest education. And Fred was just such a cool guy like that. He was doing that for all the kids that would come in to CD Alley and I got a bit of a musical education during that time, I got into bands like “The Kinks” and “The Zombies”. “The Odyssey and Oracle” 30th Year Anniversary re-release had just been issued and so that CD became kind of like an anthem for me. The song, “This Will Be Our Year” was just — to me it is the perfect pop song. Everything sort of comes together in that one.
BP: And to this day, I can listen to that song — it doesn’t matter where I am, what I’m doing, what situation I’m in — I can listen to that song and it will make me smile. I love it so, so completely and wholly.
We loved it so much, my husband and I actually played it at our wedding as we kissed. Our DJ — I don’t know how he timed it so perfectly, but as my husband…as our lips met, the first chords kicked in, and it was really kind of — I’ll never forget it. It was amazing.
MH: We’ve just heard The Zombies, “This Will Be Our Year” from the “Odyssey and Oracle” album. What are we going to hear now?
BP: When my husband and I got married, we wanted to do something a little different, because we’d been to a lot of weddings and we just felt like, that wasn’t for us — the traditional bridesmaids…big thing…whatever. So, we came up with this idea to have a surprise wedding wherein, our friends were all invited via Evite to a surprise “birthday” party for me, that my husband was throwing. No one knew that we were engaged or anything — you know, there was no lead-up to it at all. And when I arrived, everyone yelled “Surprise!” and I was in a white wedding dress and they opened up the back of the place and it was all set for a wedding and we got married on the spot, and people could not believe it. It was, like, such a shock, and my friends were blown away. And we managed to surprise just about everyone that was there.
But, because of that, we wanted our music to sort of reflect the unique nature of the wedding itself, so we looked for months for the right song for me to walk down the aisle to. And we talked about so many different things. There would be a song that I liked, but Mark didn’t feel a connection to it, or a song that he liked, but I was not feeling it. And then, he pulled out this song by David Karsten Daniels called “The Dream Before the Ring That Woke Me,” which I had never heard before, and he put it on, and I was sort of, like, pretending to walk towards him, and I started to cry. I just felt, like “This is it. This is what I want to be listening to as I make this final walk towards the person I’m going to spend the rest of my life with.”
BP: You know, even though there’s really only one line to the song, it’s just so beautiful in its simplicity. It sort of speaks volumes to me about marriage and how I feel about my husband. Even the title, “The Dream Before the Ring That Woke Me”, for some reason, reminds me of, or is evocative of, getting married.
MH: We’ve just heard David Karsten Daniels doing “The Dream Before the Ring That Woke Me”. What are we going to hear next?
BP: I had a daughter two years ago. A beautiful little girl named Birdie Lee Silverstein, and I breast fed my daughter…so you have to feed them a lot — that’s all they pretty much do. So, about every three hours, I would sit in this rocking chair and feed my little girl, and she was so beautiful and so perfect and so sweet and I’d made a little playlist on my iPod to listen to while sitting there, rocking and the very first song on that CD was this Elvis Perkins song, “While You Were Sleeping”. And generally speaking, we only got though one or two songs on the playlist before she was done and had fallen back asleep. I would just rock, and I was falling in love with my kid and listening to this song, and so, for me, we had a lot of time, just the two of us together, in that rocking chair, listening to this song, and for me, it brings back all of those feelings. I can almost feel that fog of falling in love with your baby.
MH: Thank you so much for coming out and sharing these songs with us and these great stories.
BP: Thanks so much for having me. I hope it was good…
MH: It was excellent.
Thanks so much for joining us here on KCRW.com. For a complete track listing and to find these songs online, go to http://KCRW.com/guestdjproject.