Danny DeVito is true Hollywood royalty. He also happens to be a huge
music fan. The accomplished actor, director and producer is regularly
spotted at music festivals in Southern California and DJ Eric J
Lawrence taps into his personal favorites, including his song for the
break up blues, a passionate opera performance, and an angst-ridden
declaration of love. He also takes us on a journey through his
childhood in Asbury Park with two iconic artists.
Danny DeVito stars in "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" on FX and has two projects -- Disney’s “When In Rome” and “True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle” – in the works.
1. Bruce Springsteen - mansion on the hill
2. Bob Dylan - positively 4th street
3. Castelles - over a cup of coffee
4. Maria Callas - vissi d' arte
5. Peeping Tom - 5 seconds
Eric J. Lawrence: Hi, this is Eric J. Lawrence from KCRW and I am happy to be here with the one and only Danny DeVito. As we all know, he is a man of many talents but he is also an avid music fan. And today he's performed the Herculean task of picking a handful of songs that have inspired him over the years, so Danny, thanks for coming down.
Danny DeVito: Great to be here, Eric.
Eric J. Lawrence: What songs do you have to share with us today?
Danny DeVito: Well, I have so many. As you said, it was very, very difficult when the call came in to pick five songs. I mean, from earliest memory, I was a big music fan. I'm, of course, a New Jersey guy. I was born in Asbury. Not far from Asbury there was a very famous singer born--his name was Bruce Springsteen.
Eric J. Lawrence: Heard of him.
Danny DeVito: He was born in Freehold, New Jersey and made his start at the Stone Pony in Asbury, down by the boardwalk. When I was a kid, we lived in the little town of Asbury but on the outskirts of town there were really big homes and we used to go out there on a hot night and a few of us would sit out there on the car, on the road and off in the distance there was a beautiful house, in the middle of a field. There was a roadway and a gate and everything and way, way down in the distance there was this mansion on a hill. We would see the lights in the windows and people partying. It was a long way to that mansion. There was water in between--there were obstacles. And when I heard this song on "Nebraska" I thought, boy, I can really relate to this.
Song: Mansion on the Hill by Bruce Springsteen
Eric J. Lawrence: Going from one icon to another, I see that you have something picked from Bob Dylan--in fact a song from 1965 that appears on Dylan's Greatest Hits collection that I know surely must have been an important record for Bruce Springsteen when he was beginning his career. Which track have you selected?
Danny DeVito: "Positively 4th Street"-- I'm a big Dylan fan and I always have been. "Positively 4th Street" has kind of a biting edge to it. Just listen to this, baby.
Song: Positively 4th Street by Bob Dylan
Eric J. Lawrence: I'm Eric J. Lawrence and I'm here with Danny DeVito picking out some of his favorite tunes. So Danny, what's your next pick?
Danny DeVito: I had a friend who's a singer in Asbury Park. He's a really good singer-- his name is Nicky Addeo. And I was going through a heart break man -- I mean really shut down, is what I'm trying to say. I was brooding in my basement one day and I'm listening to a lot of Etta James, Dinah Washington--anything that's bluesy--and this guy came in with this song and said, "this is the song for you, man." And it's called, "Over A Cup of Coffee." It's by the Castelles. It has always been one of my mainstays, through the years, all these years.
Song: Over A Cup of Coffee by the Castelles
Eric J. Lawrence: What have you got next?
Danny DeVito: From my past and my future -- I'm an opera fan, and I have some "Tosca" to play for you. My favorite diva is Maria Callas. The whole idea of it…I brought some lyrics, actually. It's in Italian.
Eric J. Lawrence: Are you going to sing it for us?
Danny DeVito: No, I'm not going to sing them, but I am going to share them with you just so that people know what she sang is, "I live for art. I live for love.” She didn't do any harm to any living soul. So, you've gotta get into the opera because it's a whole sacrifice Tosca makes for her lover. It's by Puccini, of course, Giacomo Puccini. It's from Act II of the opera "Tosca,"—and it's "Vissi d'Arte."
Song: Vissi d´arte by Maria Callas from Tosca
Eric J. Lawrence: How does music play into your work as an actor? Do you use music to sort of…
Danny DeVito: Always. I always use music. In fact, in “Death to Smoochy,” which is the movie I did with Ed Norton and Robin Williams, when Smoochy is dancing on ice, "Vissi d'Arte" is playing. Because at this time, he's being persecuted by the people for his purity, and he's wondering why, ‘I've done all these great things and you still make me suffer, God.’ It's Edward Norton in a big stuffy suit.
Eric J. Lawrence: What have you got next?
Danny DeVito: I get a lot of inspiration from my daughters and son. About four or five years ago--we usually go to a music festival called Coachella--and one year, all my son Jake could talk about was Fantomas, so a bunch of us went over to the Fantomas tent and boy, I'm telling you, it was one of the greatest shows I ever saw. And from that day on, I've been a huge Mike Patton fan. I've revisited listening to Mr. Bungle, Faith No More, and all the stuff…Anyway, about a year or two ago, he put out a new group called Peeping Tom, and on that album is "Five Seconds." The thing about that song is that you want to listen to it a lot. The words are amazing. When he says, "you are the air that I breathe," it just blows me away. There's kind of an angst, but a declaration of love in there.
Song: Peeping Tom’s Five Seconds
Eric J. Lawrence: Well, Danny, I want to thank you for coming down and sharing some of these musical selections for us. We really appreciate it.
Danny DeVito: It was really a lot of fun. I'm a big fan of the station. Thank you very much.
Eric J. Lawrence: Thank you. I'm Eric J. Lawrence. Thanks for tuning in here at KCRW.com.