Like his hugely successful films, Tyler Perry’s Guest DJ set is a tribute to his Southern roots and explores the inner workings of relationships with insightful humor. The writer, director and producer dedicates two of his five song picks to his mother, who passed away last year, and explains the major role music plays in his writing process. His latest film is “Why Did I Get Married Too.”
Garth Trinidad: Hey everybody, this is Garth Trinidad from KCRW and I am here with esteemed writer, director and producer Tyler Perry. Now, his films have earned over more than $400 million worldwide and his latest is called “Why Did I Get Married Too?” Today we'll be playing excerpts of songs that have inspired him over the years as part of KCRW's Guest DJ Project. So Tyler, you have brought a goody bag of songs that are wrought and rich with emotion and character, and we are going to get in to it. The first cut I'm seeing here is a gorgeous tune from Boyz II Men.
Tyler Perry: This one was most important to me because my mother, she died on December 8th, but she called me one day a few years ago and she was in the car and she had heard this song. She just called me up in tears saying, ‘I just heard this song and all they're saying was 'Mama!' and some boys’ singing!’ She called to say thank you to me for all that I had done for her and that made me feel so good knowing all she had done for me. It's a really incredible song
Song: "A Song for Mama" by Boyz II Men
GT: I just remember being in middle school when this song came out and anytime it got played at like a school function or something, a lot of the girls would break out into tears *laughs*
TP: Is that right? Well, that's just what happened 'cause my mother definitely broke down in tears and it was such a powerful moment for me. I never forgot it. I hold on to it because her, you know, her passing has been so recent, so I hold on to it a lot and I listen to the song a lot and I think about her.
GT: A track penned by Kenneth B. Edmonds aka "Babyface," it's called, "Mama." Tyler Perry is our Guest DJ. ZZ Hill man, some blues in the mix
TP: "Someone Else is Steppin' In"
GT: Yeah, why did you throw this classic ZZ Hill joint in there?
TP: That's another one for my mother, man. I would always look at *laughs* … my mother would be married to my father for 45 years, but she loved this song and I often wondered -- why did she love this song so much? Because the song talks about the husband not coming home and not doing what he's supposed to, and somebody else is stepping in while you're stepping out. But she loved this song, man, so I get a good kick out of it when I hear it because I often think, parents are human too, so who knows, who knows.
Song: "Someone Else is Steppin' In," by ZZ Hill
TP: In rural Louisiana where we grew up, they played this all the time. Catfish frying, men playing cards, drinking, the neighborhood, everybody over. Back in the day, you had the component set - I know you don't know anything about that, Garth, 'cause you're too young - but you had the component set where you roll the speakers out and you put 'em on the front porch so that the whole neighborhood could hear it, and these were some of the songs we would play back then.
GT: That was music from ZZ Hill, the track is called "Someone Else is Steppin' In." Tyler Perry is our Guest DJ today on KCRW's Guest DJ Project. This is music from Donny Hathaway, the track is called "Someday We'll All Be Free."
TP: Yeah, I think the first thing that caught…I heard this song, I don't know, I was probably a teenager when I heard it and didn't really pay any attention to it because I couldn't really hear what the lyrics were saying, but the voice. I kept trying to hear the voice. Donny's voice was so amazing, there will never be another voice that like again, Donny Hathaway
Song: "Someday We'll All Be Free," by Donny Hathaway
TP: So, when I heard this song and I really paid attention to what he was saying -- and you put that kind of heart and soul on top of those lyrics: ‘Someday we'll all be free, hang onto the world as it spins around, don't let the spin get you down,’ I mean, those are powerful lyrics that really sat with me. I also listen to it today because as the world is turning, you have to use everything you have -- your faith, your god, your strength, your love for humanity -- to uplift you sometimes. This song is so powerful because of his experience, his pain, his voice and these lyrics. And when you tie those things together, you get a super hit
GT: That was music from Donny Hathaway, track is called, "Some Day We'll All Be Free." Tyler Perry is our Guest DJ as part of KCRW's Guest DJ Project. So you got this joint from U2 in here, it's called "One." Their style, of course, is based on blues and soul but it's kind of the odd man out on this list, so I definitely want to hear about this one.
TP: I heard "One" and I thought it was a great song. Bono singing lead on it, I thought it was great. But then I heard Mary J. Blige singing with him and then I was like, whoa. One, you know, one life, you get ONE, enjoy it, love, have fun."
Song: "One," by U2 feat. Mary J. Blige
TP: For me, it's all about lyrics. It’s about the voice and the lyrics and what they do. Now the way these artists write, they say, ‘Here's the beat, write something to the beat,’ but that's not how it started back in the day. It started with an experience, you know? ‘Last night me and my woman cried together.’ To The O'Jays, you know what I mean? ‘If Lovin' You Is Wrong, I Don't Want to be Right.’ Those were experiences that led the music. Now, it's the other way around. They're trying to get a beat so people can dance rather than listen to the words.
GT: That song is called "One," performed by U2 and Mary J Blige. Tyler Perry is our Guest DJ as part of KCRW's Guest DJ Project. Last, but not least, my goodness, "Rocks in My Bed," from Sarah Vaughan. Tell us a story about this.
TP: There's something about the time period of the Harlem Renaissance, Duke Ellington -- that whole time was really fascinating to me, Zora Neale Hurston and Langston Hughes. I love to study it. One day I was just reading up on them and really feeling the moment and I came across a Duke Ellington album of his songs and there was a Sarah Vaughan cover of "Rocks in My Bed" that blew my mind. It was incredible.
"Rocks in My Bed," by Sarah Vaughan (Duke Ellington cover)
TP: I was writing a script called "A Jazz Man's Blues," set in 1947, so when I'm writing something of that time period and of that day, I like to surround myself with things of the day. I played this album and my grandfather left me a bunch of '78's and I have one of those gramophones that you roll, dial up to play…
GT: Ohhh wow
TP: Yeah, so I would sit and play the songs and I would listen and I would get inspired, then I'd get quiet and write. I knew I was writing "Jazz Man" the first time I heard it.
GT: Music as done by Sarah Vaughan, the track is called "Rocks in My Bed." Tyler Perry is our Guest DJ as part of KCRW's Guest DJ Project. Tyler, thank you, it's been a pleasure and I'm just really happy that I was able to meet you, and have you spend some time with us on KCRW.com today, thank you very much.
TP: Anytime, anytime.
GT: For a complete track listing, simply go online to KCRW.com/GuestDJProject