Adam Carolla

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Comedian Adam Carolla, host of the hugely successful podcast, The Adam Carolla Show, was surprisingly sentimental in his Guest DJ set, sharing the song that prompted him to pursue his comedy dreams as well as his favorite Motown cut and the singer-songwriter he considers a master lyricist. Adam makes his directorial debut with Road Hard, in theaters now.

Hear Adam on this week’s edition of The Treatment with Elvis Mitchell.

For More:


  1. John Hiatt - "Dust Down A Country Road"
  2. The Jayhawks - "Blue"
  3. Boston - "Peace of Mind"
  4. Midnight Oil - "Blue Sky Mind"
  5. Smokey Robinson - "Tears of a Clown"

Aaron Byrd: Hey there, this is Aaron Byrd from KCRW and I’m here with Adam Carolla, the well-known comedian, radio-personality, and host of the hugely successful podcast, The Adam Carolla Show.

He’ll be making his directorial debut with Road Hard, a semi-autobiographical comedy that he both wrote and stars in. So we’re here with Adam to talk about some of the songs that have inspired him throughout his life, as part of KCRW’s Guest DJ Project.

First of all, Adam, welcome to KCRW.

Adam Carolla: Thanks Aaron. Thanks for having me.

AB: So what did you bring in for us today?

AC: First song is a John Hiatt song. I love this guy. I get in many arguments with my wife who loves Bruce Springsteen about how much better John Hiatt is as a songwriter. But this song is called “Dust Down A Country Road” and it’s actually in the beginning of the movie, Road Hard, and it just captures the flavor and the feel of a lonely guy on the road.

Song: John Hiatt – “Dust Down A Country Road”

AB: Curious minds would like to know, why is he better than the Boss?

AC: Well, at the risk of getting me divorced, The Boss is a lot of, “Your daddy don’t like me and I’m gonna pick you up in the back of my motorcycle, and we’re gonna head off to the edge of town.” And it’s kind of like, "Wow, what a shocker. What a twist—Dad, not a huge fan of the guy who’s courting his young daughter."

Hiatt takes words, twists them around. He picks more interesting subjects. The love songs are more interesting. Everything is just more interesting, but you gotta be tuned in to get it.

AB: That was John Hiatt, “Dust Down a Country Road”. And what do you have next for us?

AC: Second choice is a band out of, I believe, the Minneapolis area that I saw out here in Los Angeles recently. I love these guys. They’re called The Jayhawks and they have a song called “Blue”.

And that was actually featured in the other movie I did, which is called The Hammer, a million years ago. I just love that song. It’s just such a tender, beautiful song, and it inspired me in a certain point of my life, just to really sit back and try to assess my life.

It’s one of those songs: put it on, light a candle, dim the lights, and just sit there and give life a good going over in your skull, while you listen to Jayhawk’s “Blue”.

Song: The Jawhawks – “Blue”

AB: And that was The Jayhawks with "Blue". So let’s move forward to your third choice.

AC: The third choice is a song from Boston, from the band Boston, called "Peace of Mind".

And it’s not my all-time favorite song. It’s just one day many years ago, I was in the garage of my apartment, wrenching on my pickup truck, one Sunday night. And there used to be a popular syndicated show, I think it was called Rock Line, and they would get these musicians on and they would talk about their music and their songs. Not too much differently from what we’re doing now.

And they had the guy from Boston on, and they said, "What is 'Peace of Mind?' What was that song about?"

And the guy said, "I had a good job. I worked for IBM. I had things. You know, I had medical and dental, but I didn’t have peace of mind. I wanted to play music. So I quit my job, and I started this band. And I threw all caution to the wind, and I decided to roll the dice, and give it a try."

I was sitting in my garage, when I was like 23, working on my pickup truck thinking, “Do I want to do construction forever? Or maybe I want to give comedy a try.”

And it was sort of at that moment, I decided to do comedy. Now, I didn’t make a nickel for the next decade, but at a certain point it worked out.

Song: Boston – “Peace of Mind”

AB: That was Boston with "Peace of Mind". What do you have next for us?

AC: This is a song by Midnight Oil, “Blue Sky Mine”.

I was thinking of different forms of inspiration and years ago, when I used to box, I had a heavy bag hanging in the garage of my house that I bought after I was inspired by "Peace of Mind."

I would go out, and work, and do my TV shows, and do my radio shows, and do all that kind of stuff, where you’re sitting there with makeup on, and trying to hit your marks, and all that business.

And then I would go home and I would crank in my mix cd and one of the songs was Midnight Oil’s “Blue Sky Mine”.

And it just had such a strong drum beat that I would just go into this zone and just start pounding the body of that heavy bag to the beat of the drum. And it really just got me inspired.

So, like I said, Boston was inspiring to get me into a career, and Midnight Oil was inspired for me to break someone’s ribs.

Song: Midnight Oil – “Blue Sky Mine”

AB: Now that was "Blue Sky Mine" by Midnight Oil. Moving on to your final choice, what do you have for us?

AC: I have Smokey Robinson’s “Tears of a Clown”. I just think it’s the best R&B song ever created. And it’s just always been one of my favorite, not just Motown songs, but just a perfectly crafted pop song.

It gets kind of lost in a shuffle of a million great Motown songs, in a bygone era, but listen to Smokey Robinson’s voice, listen to the arrangement of the song and tell me if you can find one that is better.

Song: Smokey Robinson – “Tears of a Clown”

AB: Ok, well, that brings us to the end.

But, you know, in preparation for this interview, I was actually reading through a few of your previous interviews, and I wonder if you may have been misquoted when you said that you hate Prince?

AC: (Laughs)

What people need to understand about me is, it’s like I had said my same thing with Bruce Springsteen. I have no quarrel with Bruce Springsteen. I can’t stand that everyone worships at the altar of Bruce Springsteen. I just don’t think he’s that good.

And I feel the same way about Prince, which is, I think he’s a genius. He has a bunch of crappy songs that are super annoying from the 80’s. And he’s a pretentious douche.

I mean, he’s a genius, I will grant you that.

Listen to a lot of his songs from the 80’s that do not hold up at all! They sounded bad to me at the time. If you listen to them now, they will sound worse. All I want to say to everybody is, "He’s a genius, but it doesn’t mean he’s not a douche. And it doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a couple of stinkers that you thought were good when you were high on coke."

AB: (Laughs) (Song Plays)

AB: And that was the classic, “Tears of a Clown”, from Smokey Robinson. Hey Adam, thank you so much for joining us on KCRW’s Guest DJ Project.

AC: Thank you so much, Aaron.






Aaron Byrd