Actor Paul Reubens will be hitting Broadway soon as his classic character Pee-Wee Herman and his Guest DJ set is a celebration of songs that make him feel inspired and energized -- from the Michael Jackson track he used to pump up the comedy troupe The Groundlings before performances to the Jimi Hendrix song that made him feel “like anything was possible.” He’ll be bringing Pee-Wee’s Playhouse to the Stephen Sondheim Theatre in New York City from October 26 to January 2.
For more: http://www.peewee.com/
MS: Hi, I'm Mathieu Schreyer from KCRW and I am here with actor Paul Reubens, best known for his character Pee-Wee Herman. Today, we will be playing excerpts of songs he has selected that have inspired him over the years, as part of KCRW's Guest DJ Project. Paul, what did you bring for us?
PR: The first song is 'Stone Free' by Jimi Hendrix. I think most people who heard Jimi Hendrix for the first time had a religious experience - as did I. I had never heard anything like this.
PR: This song, besides the beat of it, and just the drive of it, this was the piece of music that made me feel like anything was possible. This piece of music defines genre, invention…and you can draw just a straight line from Jimi Hendrix to almost everybody else who matters in music now, in my opinion. I mean, there is certainly no Prince without Jimi, there's certainly no…150 billion people without him.
MS: Jimi Hendrix's "Stone Free." This is Mathieu Schreyer from KCRW and I'm here with Paul Reubens. What's next, what else have you got in your goody bag?
PR: This next piece is "Monkey Man" by the Rolling Stones.
This is from their “Let It Bleed” album. I left Florida and I went to Boston. I went to Boston University and I wore this album out. The Rolling Stones are like no other band, and at the time that I heard this for the first time, was a time when The Beatles were kind of the parallel band, they were the more popular band, but The Rolling Stones always were the dirtier, bad boy, grittier, rougher band.
Song: The Rolling Stone – Monkey Man
PR: My favorite part of this song it's toward the end of the song when Mick Jagger yells. Mick Jagger has a lyric in here where he starts to stretch out this note and he does something - I don't know exactly how to describe it - he almost throws up while he's singing in this one note. It's funny, I mean as a comedian I used to appreciate it because it was funny, but musically it's incredible. This song, it doesn't really make even sense lyrically: I'm a monkey man, I'm a monkey, I'm a monkey man - it's just bad boy kind of stuff.
MS: That was The Rolling Stones, we had a track called " Monkey Man." I'm Mathieu Schreyer, I'm sitting here with Paul Reubens – what’s next?
PR: My next song is "Love Having You Around" by Stevie Wonder. This particular song and this album - this is from “Music of My Mind” - again, just changed me, profoundly, from the first note. I listen to it over and over, I get emotional even just thinking about this because…I would challenge anyone listening to find a Stevie Wonder song that's not about love. Every single song - the man is love. He sings about love. It's all about love. Every song is driven by it, and informed by it, and illuminated by it.
PR: This is the first album that I knew of that Stevie had everything to do with. He had complete artistic control. He plays every instrument, the backup vocals are him, everything - he writes it, he produces it, he sings it, everything. And Stevie was the first person I had ever actually known that about. I read the liner notes to that album with great interest, and it was very interesting to me that he did everything. It has all his hooky stuff, but this was really raising the bar. He just turned it into a different thing, and that was very inspiring to me.
MS: That was "Love Having You Around" by Stevie Wonder. I'm Mathieu Schreyer here sitting with Paul Reubens - we are in KCRW’s studios and we're about to go into track number four. What have you got for us?
PR: Track #4 - Michael Jackson, “Don't Stop til You Get Enough.”
When this album came out, same as Stevie a little bit. He had done so much on this album, it was so him and Quincy. I was in The Groundlings already, I was already Pee Wee Herman, I was just really at the very, very earliest beginning part of my career. And I used to take a cassette tape of this, of “Don't Stop til You Get Enough” and make the entire Groundling company listen to it on my gigantic ghetto blaster backstage before we would do the show. This was my warmup music.
I think what a lot of these pieces of music have in common is, at least for me, is that they just make me feel fantastic. I listen to this music and I'm not only inspired but I'm energized and I'm ready to go create and be who I want to be, and I appreciate that so much from these people.
MS: Michael Jackson, Don't Stop til You Get Enough. I'm here in the KCRW studio with none other than Paul Reubens. What's the last track?
PR: Boy, I tell you, this was very, very difficult to get this down to five songs.
MS: It's the worst.
PR: It's really, incredibly hard. And so I did something that I understand a few other people have done here -- try and kill a couple birds with one stone. This is Chaka Khan "I Feel for You." This is a Prince song, by Chaka Khan. Prince is probably my #1 crush, musically. I can't think of anything except a curse word, but he's that. He's the blank.
PR: Chaka Khan has always seemed to be somebody who is a rocker. She's like affected by rock and yet she wound up in this band with jazz and she does all this other stuff. Stevie Wonder is on here playing harmonica and there's a sample on here of Stevie Wonder from "Fingertips" so this has three of my most favorite people all wrapped up into one project. And - this is certainly extremely arguable, but - I believe this song is one of the best-produced singles I have ever heard, ever. There's not one mistake, there's not one anything wrong with this.
This is, to me, as perfect a piece of music as you could ever have, in terms of something that would just get you up on your feet and make you go nuts. This song to me is just so energizing and…I grew up in the South. R&B is my real meat and potatoes thing, I love jazz, I like a lot of different music, and this does it all for me.
MS: That was Chaka Khan doing a rendition of a great song called "I Feel for You." I'm sitting here with Paul Reubens, this is Mathieu Schreyer in the KCRW studio. Thank you so much for coming.
PR: My pleasure, this was really fun.
MS: For a complete track listing and to find these songs online go to kcrw.com/guestdjproject.