Tony Award-winner and 3-time Emmy nominee Joe Mantegna has starred in the hit police drama Criminal Minds for nearly 10 years and has directed several episodes of the series. Joe got his start playing in a rock band, so his song picks represent a lifelong love of music. Hosted by Anthony Valadez
1. The Shirelles - Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?
2. Tony Bennett - I Left My Heart In San Francisco
3. The 5th Dimension - Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In
4. Chicago Transit Authority - Question 67 and 68
5. Gia Mantegna and Michael Raphael - I Won't Wait
Anthony Valadez: Hi, I’m Anthony Valadez and I’m here with Joe Mantegna. The Tony award winner and three time Emmy nominee has starred in the hit police drama Criminal Minds for nearly 10 years and has directed several episodes of the series. He’s also a famed voice actor who you’ve heard as the voice of Fat Tony on the Simpson,s as well as many others. We are thrilled to have him here today to have him talk about some of the songs that have inspired him as part of KCRW’s Guest DJ Project. Hey Joe, welcome.
Joe Mantegna: Thank you very much, great to be here.
A: It’s great to have you, what are we going to start with?
J: Well, you know, music has always been a real important part of my life, so I had to think back to well, when I first really started getting into my own records and doing stuff like that, it took me back to the 8th grade or you know maybe Freshman in high school and I would go out, and buy the little 45’s and I distinctly remember going to buy this one record, this 45 among others that I bought at that time, what is great is that years later I was able to meet the woman who wrote the song and be able to go up to her and say “you know what, I think you wrote the first 45 that I ever bought” and it was a song that I loved to this day I think it was one of the greatest rock and roll songs of its time or of any time. And that’s “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?” by the Shirelles.
*Song: The Shirelle - Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?*
A: That was “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” by the Shirelles. Joe, I see a classic next, “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” by Tony Bennett, talk about this one.
J: Now again, this becomes an evolution for me because here’s a song, which is a signature song for Tony Bennett. As my taste start to develop a little more as I got a little older and I was teenager and then a young man, I couldn’t help listening to a lot of music that my parents would play and while I love Sinatra, Tony Bennett, there was something particular about him that I also liked very, very much. I would say to myself if Sinatra was a great singer, he’s a great crooner, but this guy Tony Bennett, he’s got another thing going.
*Song: Tony Bennett - I Left My Heart in San Francisco*
And then, what ultimately happened is, years later, I got to meet him. I was doing the play Glengarry Glenn Ross on Broadway in 1984 and one of the other actors in the show happened to be dating a girl who was the daughter of a woman that Tony Bennett was dating, and he happened to bring it up in conversations, “Hey you never guessed who I double dated with, Tony Bennett and his girlfriend” and I was like “Tony Bennett, really, you know him?” he goes “yeah he even wants to come see the play” I said “hey look I’ll give him my hall seats he can sit third row center if you invite him to the play”. Well, to make a long story short, he invited him to the play. Tony came to the play this was in 1984, he’s been a dear friend of mine ever since so here’s one of those instances where somebody existed In my life as kind of an idol as a child, sort of a mythical person, so if I had to pick one song to personify Tony Bennett of course it has to be that song. It’s a song that he wrote his name in huge letters all over it and then maybe millions of other versions but there is really one version of “I Left My Heart In San Francisco” and that’s Tony Bennett, ladies and gentlemen, yes, that’s right.
A: That was “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” by Tony Bennett, selected by Joe Mantegna, part of KCRW’s Guest DJ Project. I’m excited to hear your next pick.
J: Well, we go back again past my teenage years. Now I’m a young man, I’ve decided acting is a thing I kind of want to do and I’d heard that was going to be try outs for this new huge Broadway musical that was the talk of time. You know, this was 1969, so I was just going to turn 21 that year actually and I thought ‘Wow.’ I’d done musicals. That was what I did in high school and junior college and I always thought musical comedy might be my way of getting in the door because I was also in a rock band for 5 years. Music was a big part of my life early in my career, so I said I’ll try out for this play and I was the last person picked to be cast in that show - which became my first professional job -- and that was the play “Hair”. It was such a big deal back then, so I had hair down to my shoulders, I mean, that was my MO back in those days. So, the songs as I tried to think what, you know, there’s a whole Hair album that I would listen to but if there was that one version, that the 5th Dimension did where they combined 2 of the songs from the show, which was “Aquarius” and “Let the Sun Shine In”.
*Song: The 5th Dimension - Aquarius and Let the Sun Shine*
J: And that’s when my wife and I got together. My wife and I have been together for over 40 -- well do the math from 1969 until now, for 45 plus years -- so we’ve been together that long because we were both in that play together, “Hair”. The music of Hair resonates with me for a lot of reason so that song, you know, “Aquarius” and “Let The Sun Shine In” from the 5th Dimension, whenever I hear it, it certainly gets my attention.
A: That was “Aquarius and Let The Sun Shine In” by the 5th Dimension, as part as KCRW’s Guest DJ Project. What’s next?
J: Well, there was a time right in between High School and Junior college, right in there when I had to do a project for the English class that says do something that pertains to English culture. A couple of us, we said “let’s put together, kind of, a goofy little Beatles song, and we’ll say ‘this is English Culture, it’s The Brits, it’s The Beatles!’ They’re the newest thing. Little did we know just by doing this little number in class -which we actually did fairly well, I guess- the kids really responded. They thought “these guys are great, you know, you sound terrific” so we decided to take it seriously. We started learning a couple songs, we got together, we got this band started. We called ourselves “The Apocryphals, and turned ourselves into a fairly decent band and we played in the Chicago area from about 1965 thru 69. But one of the bands who we would tour with was called The Missing Links. The Missing Links were a great bunch of guys, and they were wonderful musicians. Well, needless to say, they changed the name from The Missing Links, they changed it to another name they came out with an album about 2 years later. That album and the name of the group was The Chicago Transit Authority. They came out with that first album and when I heard that album, that’s when I realized “you know what, I should go into the theater, go into the acting end.” Because this was this brilliant album, these were our good friend who had created this super group, came out with this wonderful album and the rest is history. To this day, they’re amongst my closest friends in the world. I see them play every year and Chicago will always have a special place in my heart.
*Song: The Chicago Transit Authority - Question 67 and 68*
A: That was “Question 67 and 68” by Joe Mantegna’s good friends, Chicago. I’m looking at this list and see a name that’s very familiar. What’s up with this one?
J: I have two daughters. My oldest daughter has autism, my daughter Mia. And so, she was always the one that we always, of course, had a lot of concern about because we were always wondering, you know, she’s going to be limited in things she can do and things like that, so we were always attentive about what she was doing. And it’s a syndrome of the second child syndrome or maybe the second ones not giving quite the attention that the first one is, and especially in this case, because the first one has the special needs. So I remember they were gonna do this play Annie at the local school for the district, and my daughter Mia, the one with the autism, wanted to try out for it. “Of course this is wonderful. We’ll even let your little sister go along and try out with you so you can have a companion,” we’re thinking because Mia liked to sing. To cut to the chase, they come home from the audition and Mia’s all excited, she says “I’m in the play, I’m in the play, I’m in the chorus, and I get to play one of the girls,” and we’re just over the moon. And we said “how did it go, Gia” “oh great I’m in the play too! I’m Annie!’ So she had gotten the lead, she was In the play as Annie and we were, at this point, like well, you know, we heard Gia singing in the house but didn’t know or think she had a real interest in it because she wasn’t pushing it. Well, we went and saw the play, knocking our socks off, just killed it. She is now recording and when I heard this particular song, I thought “this is just, I don’t think I’m kidding myself when I hear it and say I would like this song whether it was my kid or anybody’s kid, this is just a great song and she’s got a great voice”. So anyway, the circle has completed itself. This is my daughter, Gia Mantegna, singing her latest release “I Won’t Wait”.
*Song: Gia Mantegna - I Won’t Wait*
A: That was “I Won’t Wait” by Gia Mantegna and Michael Raphael, selected by Joe Mantegna, the Rock and Roll Dad. I really appreciate you hanging out and talking music with us.
J: My pleasure, thank you.
A: for complete tracklisting and finding these songs go online at kcrw.com/guestdjprojects and subscribe to the podcast through iTunes.