Amy Krouse Rosenthal is an NPR contributor and bestselling children's book author. She is also the creator of the international, interactive feature film project "The Beckoning of Lovely." In her Guest DJ set, Amy spotlights a handful of Chicago musicians, including the indie artist she calls an “endless well of musical goodness,” and one Oklahoma band for good measure.
Jeremy Sole: This is Jeremy Sole and I’m here with Amy Krouse Rosenthal who, in addition to being a memoirist, NPR contributor and children’s book author, is now embarking on an ambitious feature film project called “The Beckoning of Lovely.” Today we’re here to talk about music as part of KCRW’s Guest DJ Project. So Amy, let’s just get right down into it. What songs did you bring to share with us?
Amy Krouse Rosenthal: Ok, so the first song is called “Sparrow” by a Chicago-based band Scattered Trees. I discovered Scattered Trees a few years ago. They were on the CD that Starbucks put together called Off the Clock, which featured Starbucks employees who were emerging artists. The first time a heard it, it’s about 13 seconds into the song that you first hear Nate’s voice, the lead singer Nate. And within moments, I mean really by the 19th second, you know that this is the real deal -- that this music, this band, is something.
Song: Sparrow by Scattered Trees
AKR: I don’t know if you’ve seen the latest Beckoning of Lovely video, it’s called The Beckoning of Lovely a Year Later. I went back to the Bean and gave away Lovely, like I just wanted to give away lovely things. So I had a menu of things you could choose from, like I gave away money, I gave away advice, I gave away basil from my garden, and then one of the things was I would give you a moment of peace. And if people chose that, what I did is I passed them my iPod and I cued up to this song, Sparrow. When I launched that on YouTube, the unbelievable overwhelming response, both on YouTube and through Twitter, was that people really zoned in on that song and people were like “Oh my gosh, I love that music” and they went out and bought this song, Sparrow. So that was the overriding result of putting Scattered Trees in that video.
JS: Let’s give a little perspective on The Beckoning of Lovely, for those who do not know what the intention is behind it.
AKR: I put an invitation out through a YouTube video called, 17 Things I Made and, at the end of that video, I invited the viewer to come meet me at the Bean, which is a big sculpture in Millennium Park here in Chicago, and I said come meet me on 8-08-08 at 8:08pm, and I’ll be the one with the yellow umbrella. 8-08-08 at 8:08pm arrived and I showed up to the Bean and there were hundreds of people there. And the film of what happened that night became The Beckoning of Lovely.
JS: So again, that song was called “Sparrow” from Scattered Trees. Amy, do me a favor and tell me about this song from Other Lives.
AKR: This is “Black Tables” and this song, oh my gosh, I listened to it probably a hundred times and
what I love about it is I love the piano at the beginning and then 17 seconds in the strings kick in and I love rock ‘n roll that has strings. The piano is beautiful and the lead singer Jesse, I just love his voice. Actually, as a nice little anecdote, I guest DJ often at my yoga class and just before coming here to talk to you I got an email from my friend in the class and she’s like, ‘What music were you playing yesterday? Male voice, great piano?’ and, of course, it was Other Lives.
Song: Black Tables by Other Lives
JS: Alright, so we just heard the song “Black Tables” from Other Lives. This is Jeremy Sole sitting with Amy Krouse Rosenthal on KCRW’s Guest DJ Project. Amy, tell me about this song from The Smoking Popes.
AKR: I chose the song “Pure Imagination,” which of course is a cover of the Gene Wilder version that is in Willy Wonka. I adore this song. I think it is a perfect combination of whimsy and earnestness and rock. I think, through Josh Caterer’s voice, I was drawn in immediately when I first heard this band and just went back and explored all their music. It resonates with me as a person who creates and makes things for a living. It just kind of goes right there and I, in fact, used this song in one of the smaller of The Beckoning of Lovely films. It’s a good anthem.
Song: “Pure Imagination” by the Smoking Popes
JS: So we just listened to an excerpt of the song “Pure Imagination” from Smoking Popes. Amy, I want to get into this next song. Tell us a little bit about why you picked this song from Nick Gage.
AKR: Nick is another Chicago based singer songwriter and he is an endless well of musical goodness. Let me back up and say, I met Nick because he came to interview and then was immediately accepted to be our babysitter. He worked with us for a couple years and, pretty much by day two, I was like, ‘Holy mackerel, this guy is insanely talented.’ I chose this one, called “I Want to Know,” because I used it in one of The Beckoning of Lovely films and the response was immediate and emphatic. People quickly started commenting about that song. Sometimes you have the perfect piece of music and it works for that moment in the film but you’re not necessarily ‘in’ that music or completely aware of it, and other times the moment becomes the music and that’s, I think, what this song does. You’re watching something, and hopefully it’s working as a piece of film, but the music jumps out at you and you want to know more about the music.
Song: “I Want to Know” by Nick Gage
JS: So once again, that song was “I Want to Know” from Nick Gage. Amy, for this last song, tell us why you chose this one from Tony Rogers.
AKR: I chose this song “Gotta Love Somebody.” Tony is a remarkable talent. He also is very versatile, ranging from pop songs to rock to torch songs to ballads. I chose this song because it’s just so fun and I think it shows off his vocals really well, I love his vocals. Tony has an ability to not just perform but to bring the listener into the music and, at the show, this is the last song he plays and the whole audience chimes in as the do on this recording that I’ve provided. You can’t help but want to sing along. Want to sing with me Jeremy?
AKR: (sings along)
JS: Amy, thanks so much for joining us on KCRW.com.
AKR: Oh Jeremy, so happy to be here, thank you so much.
JS: For a complete track listing and to find these songs online, go to KCRW.com/guestdjproject.