Comedian Chris Hardwick hosts Web Soup on G4 TV as well as the popular Nerdist Podcast. He tells us about the beginnings of his geekdom and gets serious about his favorite Radiohead song, as well as why Neil Finn is one of the best songwriters in the world.
For More: http://www.nerdist.com/
1. Barbra Streisand & Barry Gibb - Guilty
2. Grant Lee Buffalo - Mockingbirds
3. Crowded House - Hole in the River
4. Psychedelic Furs - The Ghost in You
5. Radiohead - Let Down
Dan Wilcox: Hey, this is Dan Wilcox from KCRW and I have the pleasure of sitting here with comedian Chris Hardwick who hosts Web Soup on G4 as well as the popular Nerdist Podcast. Today we're gonna be playing excerpts of songs that he selected, and have inspired him over the years as part of KCRW's Guest DJ Project, Welcome!
Chris Hardwick: Thank You!
DW: Let's dive right in. So, where do you want to go first?
CH: Probably not where anyone would expect. So, when I was a kid, the reason that I got involved and so interested in all the nerdy stuff -- one of the major influences in my life was my mother's father, my grandfather, was a technofile. He had a laser disc player in 1979 and he always had video cameras and he had Beta before VHS cause he said it was better, he had video game systems and he had Hi-Fi recording systems.
DW: This is your grandfather?!
CH: This is my grandfather! He had Hi-Fi record systems with like tape decks and everything. So, as a kid, what I would do is I would go to his house and play DJ. I would record off the turntable and I just had this crappy little, you know, Radio Shack microphone that went into the mic jack. I'd be like: "and that was blah-blah-blah and here's blah-blah this is Chris Hardwick on KME, K-ME." It was like one of those things.
And so essentially what I had to go off of was my grandfather's record collection, which consisted of a lot of stuff that you might think a grandfather would have. There was Johnny Mathis and Sinatra so I would make these mixes with me being a DJ in between. And, this album for some reason, there's this one song that I kept playing over and over and it was, of course, the super mashup of Barry Gibb and Barbra Streisand. They had a relationship for a while, and out of their sexual relationship was born a song baby and the song baby was called "Guilty." It has a lot of meaning to me because as a kid this was a song and I'd be like "This is Chris Hardwick blah-blah" as a matter of fact if you don't mind, is it okay if I take us into it?
DW: Yeah, please! Please do!
CH: You're listening to tiny Chris Hardwick here KME, KME radio. This song is by Barry Gibb of the Bee Gees and Barbra Streisand of Barbra Streisand. This song is called Guilty. Let's take a ride.
Song: "Guilty" - Barry Gibb/Barbra Streisand
DW: That was Barbra Streisand and Barry Gibb with their song "Guilty." Chris, where are we going to go next?
CH: Where we're going next is, there was a little band in the mid-90's called Grant Lee Buffalo. I've since become pals with Grant Lee Phillips, who is awesome. I met him because there are comedy shows at Largo and Grant Lee does shows there. I pitched him this idea to write a song about nerdy girls. We actually made a demo of that song, and he's always been one of my favorites.
This song that I brought, "Mockingbirds," it was just a different flavor than everything that was coming out in the mid-90s. when I remember it was huge Nirvana and Pearl Jam and Soundgarden and then Grant Lee Buffallo was just this really melodic gorgeous departure from all that and I mean those songs that they wrote, and the songs he continues to write, are like these wonderful musical portraits.
"Mockingbirds" was my first exposure to Grant Lee Buffalo and its still in my playlists.
Song: "Mockingbirds" – Grant Lee Buffalo
DW: Okay, we just heard Grant Lee Buffalo with the song "Mockingbirds", that was chosen by our guest here Chris Hardwick. What's next?
CH: Well, I discovered a band called Crowded House I guess….well actually I discovered Split Enz first, and then, of course, Crowded House. Their most popular song -- I still think "Don't Dream is Over" is one of the greatest songs in the musical library of human history -- but when I was in high school, I moved out to L.A my senior year, and I bought an album, I bought Temple of Low Men, which was the follow up album to the original Crowded House and listened to it everyday.
The song I brought is actually not from Temple of Low Men but I went with "Hole in The River" because its just such a hauntingly beautiful song and Neil Finn can write a melody like nobody's business! Someone told me that someone asked Paul McCartney once what it felt to be the greatest songwriter in the world then he said something along the lines of: "I don't know why don't you ask Neil Finn?
Song: "Hole in the River" -- Crowded House
CH: What's so great about Neil Finn's music is that it takes you places you didn't know you wanted to go, so he does surprising things with the melody where you're like "Oh I didn't realize you could go there but you did and it's great!" And then, you know, lyrically their songs are phenomenal as well. I mean, he might not be human. I'm positive he might be some lab experiment that they did in New Zealand: "We're gonna create the perfect songwriter!". That was my best kiwi accent.
DW: That was pretty good too, wow!
CH: Probably not that good.
DW: Okay we just heard "Hole in the River" from Crowded House, and, so Chris what's next on the list here?
CH: Well, what's next is the Psych Furs, now I've always been a fan of the Psych Furs but this song is important to me because, my girlfriend and I have been together for six and a half years and the two things that we bonded over really quickly were the original Tron movie and this song, The Psychedelic Fur's "The Ghost in You".
Song: The Ghost in You -- Psychedelic Furs
CH: I hadn't heard "The Ghost in You" in a long time and then it was that confluence of ‘I really dig this person and I forgot that I loved this song' and it just all came together and kinda formed this bubble that defined the beginning of our relationship and every time I hear it, of course as music tends to do, it just takes me back to those moments when we first met and started hanging out.
DW: Okay that was the song "The Ghost in You" from the Psychedelic Furs, and Chris, where are we gonna go next?
CH: I am the hugest Radiohead fan ever. And my best friend Mike Furman and I have a comedy duo called Hard and Phirm and we made a bluegrass medley of Radiohead songs a bunch of years ago called Rodeohead.
DW: I've heard it, it's amazing.
CH: Thank you. So we hope people know that it is a tribute to a band that we love so much.
But I think the song that I brought along… I mean there are certainly Radiohead favorites and ones that people know and have heard of -- you know, "Karma Police" or even "Paranoid Android" -- but I think "Let Down" is probably my favorite song on OK Computer and, to me, it really captured just the whole zeitgeist of what was going on in the mid to late nineties when the album came out. It's so gorgeously done and every time I hear it I just imagine them finishing this song and then just kind of a silence of "Oh this probably is going to be amazing".
Song – "Let Down" - Radiohead
CH: The idea of what the song is saying you know, just sort of being trapped in this technological world and the idea of let down and hanging around… I don't know it just resonated with me at that time because you know people were starting to feel overwhelmed with the information age and we were beginning our real obsession with computers. I mean, I've had computers since 1981, but it wasn't really until the late nineties when the internet started to localize the world and it felt like it was born out of that and it also there's a musical quality to it that just makes my molecules vibrate. I don't know how else to say it, we're just tuned up to the right frequency.
DW: Chris, Thank you so much.
CH: Thank you so much, this was a tremendous honor. I appreciate it, thank you.
DW: Absolutely, thank you for joining us here on KCRW.com. And for a complete track list and find these songs online go to kcrw.com/guestdjproject.