Comedian Iliza Shlesinger has a new stand up special premiering on Netflix this month and can be seen starring in the series “Forever 31” on ABC Digital and Hulu. For her Guest DJ set, she reflects on her time as a teenage raver in Texas, shares a country favorite, and chooses a Sublime song that shaped her visions of California…and taught her Spanish. Hosted by Anthony Valadez
1.Alice Deejay - Better Off Alone
2.Garth Brooks- Callin’ Baton Rouge
3.Michael Jackson - Human Nature
4.Weezer - Buddy Holly
5.Sublime – Caress Me Down
Anthony Valadez- Hey, it’s Anthony Valadez and I’m here with Iliza Shlesinger, a popular comedian who also hosts the comedy game show Separation Anxiety on TBS. Today we will be playing excerpts of the songs she selected that inspired her over the years as part of KCRW’S Guest DJ Project. Iliza, how are you?
Iliza- Hey Anthony!
A: Hey Iliza!
I: I’m so excited.
A: Awesome! Let’s talk music you brought in some music for us to listen to. So what’s the first song?
I: The first song we have is “Better off Alone” by Alice Deejay and this song means a lot to me for a couple reasons. One, I didn’t drink in high school. For no reason other than I didn’t want to. And all my friends did.
So they would all play quarters and flip cup and they would have these you know fun like typical Texas Friday nights and my best friend Michelle and I discovered raves!
And this was like in the 90’s so this was when it was okay, and some people were in JNCOs, we certainly weren’t. But it wasn’t the worst thing ever and there was like a decent rave scene in Dallas. We didn’t want to hang out with the kids that were drinking anymore, we wanted to find our OWN thing. Even in high school, we wanted to like break free, so we would go downtown, we would find these raves and we got involved in this community.
Alice Deejay’s Better Off Alone, I mean, it was just one of those songs that was fun to listen to and it reminds of driving like an hour outside of Dallas to go to a rave at 17, lying to your mom about where you are going. It just has a lot of warm memories attached to doing something sort of counter culture - to your small private school – so, I think of rebelling in the tiniest most harmless way.
A: Well, let’s take a listen this is Alice Deejay with Better Off Alone.
*Song: Alice Deejay – "Better Off Alone"
A: Alright, so what’s the next song?
I: Garth Brooks, this song is called “Callin’ Baton Rouge”. Garth Brooks was sort of the indisputable champ of country music. “Callin’ Baton Rouge” is such a quintessential country song.
I love country music, which I know is not cool to say in California - like I might as well say I’m a Republican (I’m not). It just reminds me of home and that’s the best way I can put it.
It’s just a fun song and it just gets you going and it’s a great story, country music people love to crap on it, but it’s the best storytelling. This song is about a guy who spends a night with a girl and all he can do is think about her and he just wants to keep calling her - which is something guys don’t do now-a- days they don’t call. (Laughs)
A: I’m sorry, on behalf men.
I: I think when you grow up in a state where certain type of music is the backbone and the backdrop of an upbringing, so even though I never went to any country concerts, it was still ever present. And that song, it’s just such a fun song and you can’t help but stomp your boot when you listen to it and it makes me happy.
A: Well let’s stomp our boots, this is Garth Brooks with “Callin’ Baton Rouge”.
*Song: Garth Brooks -- “Callin’ Baton Rouge”
A: That was Garth Brooks with “Callin’ Baton Rouge”part of KCRW’S Guest
DJ Project. That was fun, that was nice to kick my boots to.
I: A lot of fiddle happenin’, you don’t hear fiddle very often.
A: Laughing* It’s true. So what’s next on the list.
I: So the next song is by the beautiful champ of pop, Michael Jackson, who I miss on a daily basis. The song is “Human Nature”.
I was always a huge Michael Jackson fan; I wrote a book report on him when I was a kid, I used to be really into drawing and he was one of the first things that I ever drew. I did talent show dances to his songs.
“Human Nature”, it’s the melody more than the words, I believe that a song can have a great melody and it almost doesn’t matter what the person is saying and it’s a song that just always pops up in my life somehow, it’s just is one of those quintessential Michael Jackson songs. It’s not aggressive, it’s just pretty and it just makes me happy to listen to it.
A: When might you play this song, when would you break this one out?
I: I would play “Human Nature” when I’m be getting ready. It’s good for cruising in a car when you’re on a road trip. It’s delicate -- in a club, you could stop and play that, people would stop and they would just be into it and you would just wanna sway. It just brings something in you and the song is about human nature and it’s about just longing to look at someone or be with someone or asking questions. It’s one of the best Michael Jackson songs.
A: Let’s take a listen to Michael Jackson with “Human Nature”.
*Song: Michael Jackson – “Human Nature”
A: That was Michael Jackson with “Human Nature” as selected by Iliza Shlesinger as part of KCRW’S Guest DJ Project. What’s next?
I: Ok, so this next song, I’ve chosen is “Buddy Holly” by Weezer.
Weezer was larger than life when I was in high school and I remember I had a boyfriend and everybody’s got that one high school love. He was a year older than me and we dated when “Buddy Holly” was the biggest song.
And the line that’s like, “I know I’m yours, ooh ooh and I know you’re mine” like of course as a teenager you’re like ‘Oh My God, I’m his and he’s mine’ and we’ll never break up.
Then he went to UT? OK, bye. Guess we are going to different colleges on different coasts.
I’m picking that song because it reminds me a little bit about high school, but also the heartbreak of youth, and I couldn’t listen to that song for two years.
It’s a fun song, so it shouldn’t have that much of a hold on you, but that’s what music does. And to just pick up your head one day and be like ‘oh, I’m not in love with my high school boyfriend that I went to prom with anymore’ and so now I can listen to this song and literally feel nothing, but fun nostalgia.
A: Let’s take a listen this is Weezer with “Buddy Holly”.
*Song: Weezer – “Buddy Holly”
A: That was Weezer with Buddy Holly, so what’s the last song on your list?
I: The last song I have is “Caress Me Down” by Sublime.
Sublime was huge because no other band sounded like Sublime. It was such a Southern California sound. When I was a teenager, you know, you hear these songs and then you grow up and you live in Los Angeles and you’re on the freeway and you pass an exit for Garden Grove and you’re like, ‘that’s from the song’!!
Like, and these people are just singing about their lives, but it’s so glamorized. It’s all these things that, we live in California, so we put into screenplays and songs and fashion and art. And to be a kid and sort of think, ‘oh wow that’s so glamourous’ and then you move out here and you’re like “oh it’s just an exit like off the 5 or something, wherever that is.”
I pick Caress Me Down because there is a Spanish rap part that he does. I was never good at studying but, I’m not gonna lie, there have been a couple times both in my scholastic career and as an adult where I have referenced parts of that song and been able to use it in real conversation and figure out what they’re talking about.
Like somebody said “muneca” the other day and I was like, I know, that’s a doll!
And even verbs that they use, so it was a learning tool. It was cool, as a kid, to have something that you enjoy that your parents probably don’t approve of, but actually is helping you. And it’s a very sexual song too.
That album still holds up, I heard it on the way here. It makes you feel good and even though I was just a Jewish kid growing up in the suburbs of Dallas, Texas, like, you got a dose of like Southern California degenerate tattooed band members.
It was a cool way to feel a part of something and then you move out and you get to see that culture.
It’s just a really weird full circle experience. Thank you for helping me pass some of my Spanish tests, Bradley.
A: Let’s listen to some Spanish music in the way of Sublime, this is “Caress Me Down”.
*Song: Sublime – "Caress Me Down"
A: Iliza, thank you so much for joining us over at KCRW.com
I: Thank you so much for having me, Anthony. Also I wanted to let all the listeners know that I’ve been eating a macaron, pretzels and drinking coffee this whole time and I did a great job by not letting you hear it.
A: (Laughs) For a complete track listing and to find these songs go online to KCRW.com/guestdjproject and subscribe to the podcast through iTunes.