Rob Delaney has been called the funniest person on Twitter and counts This American Life host Ira Glass among his fans. For his Guest DJ set, he discusses fatherhood, marriage, and why fear is funny. Rob self-released his first comedy special “Live at the Bowery Ballroom” via his website.
For More: http://robdelaney.com/
1. In The Fade- Queens of the Stone Age
2. What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted- Jimmy Ruffin
3. Bluer Than Midnight- The The
4. Hey- Pixies
5. This Is To Mother You- Sinead O'Connor
Anne Litt: Hi there I’m Anne Litt and I’m here with Rob Delaney. He has been called the funniest comedian on Twitter by just about everyone and we are super happy that you are here with us today at KCRW.
Rob Delaney: Thank you for having me.
AL: So Rob, talk to us about the songs you brought for us today.
RD: Queens of the Stone Age are probably the band that I listen to most OR other bands that are in - or that have members in - the Queens of the Stone Age because they’re a wonderful collective led by Josh Homme. They are having so much fun and they’re just sort of this spearhead of this missile of modern like desert-boogie-fun-rock and even sludge metal and stoner rock, all that type of stuff that I really love. So this is the tip of this beautiful filthy iceberg that I just went deeper and found out more about.
Song: Queens of the Stone Age – “In the Fade”
RD: “In the Fade” is like the Rosetta Stone or the opening to the cave paintings or whatever that I found and was like "What's this!" and it commandeered my life.
AL: That was “In the Fade” by Queens of the Stone Age on KCRW’s Guest DJ Project, Rob Delaney is in the hot seat today. Talk to us about “What Becomes of the Brokenhearted” by Jimmy Ruffin.
RD: You would be forgiven if you thought it was a story of a downtrodden man for whom nothing would every go right, but I think that’s only because he’s so fully explored in the lyrics and the voice of Jimmy Ruffin is so raw and beautiful.
You know, we’ve all felt that way and few songs have kind of elucidated what that feels like, I mean sadness, having your heart broken. Juliana Hatfield, from Boston where I'm from, said the greatest quote that I've ever heard about the human heart and she said, ‘ A heart that hurts is a heart that works.’ And Jimmy Ruffin's heart works and yours does when you hear this song.
Song: Jimmy Ruffin -- “What Becomes of the Brokenhearted”
RD: The first time I listened to it after I had had my heart broken was after I was in a car accident here in L.A. It was my fault, it was a drunk driving accident and I drove into a building. Through listening to stuff like "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted", I really went through it, and I was there, and I didn't say, ‘This isn't happening.’ I accepted it. And so I'm not upset that that stuff happened. In a way, I'm glad that it happened you know. And everybody goes through their trials.
RD: Certainly, but that I was able to relax into the misery for awhile, I was able to also move out of it when the time came. So I think it's OK to be able to laugh about it, I certainly do. But I respect it.
AL: Yeah, absolutely.
RD: I know what got me there and I believe I have a road map to not do it again.
RD: Which of course is the ultimate goal.
AL: Avoiding that building.
AL: That was "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted" by Jimmy Ruffin. You also brought in The The's "Bluer Than Midnight". Now this one surprised me. Talk to me about why this is on your list and where it comes from.
RD: I think I've said this to one person. "Dusk", which "Bluer Than Midnight", is on was in my car's CD player when I was in that accident that I mentioned earlier.
RD: "Bluer Than Midnight" ends with Matt Johnson asking, "Why can't love ever touch my heart like fear does?" and he repeats it. And, you know, it's a plaintive cry.
And I think this is just the sort of clearest expression of that basic existential human query, you know that we all would love to shout at the sky so since I don't stand out in the street yelling, ‘why can't love ever touch my heart like fear does?’, Matt Johnson does it for me and I reward him by talking about his song.
Song: The The – “Bluer Than Midnight”
RD: You know fear can be really, really funny because it's so painful and we bring it upon ourselves and we foment it and feed it. When a comedian can provide sort of a release valve with a joke, we're like, ‘Oh my God, thank you!’ And we just start laughing because we're like, ‘Yes, I'm afraid of that too! I'm afraid of that thing that happens inside my own mind’ or ‘I'm afraid that that thing will happen to me’. So when we can sort of share that together, I think the relationship between comedy and fear is really, you know, a short walk down the hallway or it's a zipline. I mean, they go hand and hand.
AL: That was "Bluer Than Midnight" by The The. It's one of Rob Delaney's picks on KCRW's Guest DJ Project. So next up is "Hey" by The Pixies on KCRW's Guest DJ Project.
RD: When I first got my first ever iPod, this was a song that was on there when I met my wife. We met as counselors at a camp for people with disabilities on Martha's Vineyard. And the moment I saw my wife, I was just liquefied. I was just garbage, useless. I had to tell her very quickly upon meeting her, ‘I'm crazy about you and that's why I stare at you and mumble…’ I mean, I was just nothing. There was nothing suave about the way that I courted her. I was just, ‘Be near me!’ And so, this was one of the songs that I used to groove to. I remember it would be misty, it was on Martha's Vineyard so the fog would roll in at night and it might even rain a little bit. I'd have that on a little speaker and we would dance outside our tent in raincoats, just dancing to The Pixies in the rain with this woman who would later become my wife and the mother of my child.
AL: I just keep thinking how rad your wife must be if that was the song you guys were dancing to in the rain on Martha's Vineyard. I need to meet her.
RD: Yeah, she's great. I mean, of course, we still listen. You know, we dance to Frank Sinatra and normal people stuff. But this is just sort of a freewheeling, wacky one that we kind of just enjoy together.
Song: The Pixies – “Hey”
AL: The Pixies with "Hey" which leads us to another intense song which. I have to say. I personally relate to as a mother. Its Sinead O'Connor's "This Is To Mother You".
RD: I have seen Sinead O'Connor more in concert than any other artist. Even when I was listening to a lot of heavy metal and stuff in my adolescence and teenage years, Sinead was always my favorite because she's more metal than any of those people. She's angrier than Slayer and she's such a woman.
AL: Talk about the song itself.
RD: That song is just a fist. I mean with everything that a fist brings. I mean it hits you and almost immediately activates my tear ducts like a punch does, you know. To me, I think it's the purest distillation of love into song lyrics.
Song: Sinead O’Connor – “This Is To Mother You”
RD: It's about sort of applying the strength of a mother's love into relationships beyond motherhood. She's saying, "This is to mother you/My child, I'm so glad I found you/Although my arms have always been around you/Sweet bird, although you did not see me/I saw you."
You know, it's funny because they tell you when you're going to be a parent, you're not going to believe the love you feel. And that's certainly true but you can't…there's just no way to explain it. Nobody could explain it. Toni Morrison couldn't explain it to you. Herman Melville couldn't explain it to you. I'm afraid, it doesn't matter your gift with words, it's so much more powerful than words.
AL: "This Is To Mother You" by Sinead O'Connor.
RD: So we're both crying now and that song…And I think that's OK because also the physical pain of the love that you feel for your children, it hurts. Your capacity to love grows at a rate that like you're ribcage can't accommodate, the rate at which it grows. So you have to cry sometimes when you're thinking about your children.
AL: Yes, yes you do. I'm here with Rob Delaney for KCRW's Guest DJ Project. It has been such a pleasure having you here.
RD: I've had a great time. Thank you.
AL: For a complete track listing and to find these songs on-line go to kcrw.com/guestdjproject and subscribe to the podcast through iTunes.