Craig Newmark

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Craigslist founder Craig Newmark proudly proclaims himself a nerd, though he’s left the pocket protector by the wayside for now. Not surprisingly, he steers away from pop in favor of poetry in his music choices. He chooses tracks with themes of transformation – both personal and political– and a love song. Craigslist, which started as a fun side project in Craig's living room, has grown into one of the busiest sites on the internet and he still is active on the site as customer service representative.

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1. Tori Amos - Little Earthquakes
2. Lou Reed - Magic & Loss
3. Leonard Cohen - Anthem
4. Leonard Cohen - Democracy
5. Sophie B. Hawkins - We Are One Body


Anne Litt: Hi, this is Anne Litt from KCRW and I am so pleased to be here with Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist, an online community resource Web site. We are going to talk about the music that has inspired him over the years. Craig, I want to give you a huge thanks for coming down today.

Craig Newmark: Well, it's my pleasure to be here.

Anne: And I understand that you have a number of songs to share with us. The first song is Tori Amos, "Little Earthquakes." That's a song from … is that from her first record?

Craig: I think it's from her first record, which I heard just in my last year or so prior to leaving the Detroit area. I was lucky enough to see her perform live in a small venue in Pittsburgh. Tori's work --- not that I can really speak about her on a first name basis --- but her work doesmean a lot to me, and somehow this talks about getting through life and some of the transformations we face.

When you hear me talking about being a nerd --- I mean I really did have a plastic pocket protector in high school, I really did have thick, black glasses taped together, and I had to consciously change. In October of '72 I realized it wasn't everyone else's problem, it was mine. So, transformation is a theme I feel close to heart.

SONG: Tori Amos’ Little Earthquakes

Anne: Our next song is a Lou Reed song. Its "Magic and Loss" from the album of the same name. What about Lou Reed appeals to you?

Craig: Well, again, he seems to be for real. He seems to be the real deal, and that matters a lot. I guess I'm attracted to something which is genuine poetry - which says a great deal in very little, and which is not as mass produced as a lot of what we see today. I don't want to deprecate that, it's just not my style. Lou Reed, well … I don't do cool, but, but I've been dressing in more black.

Anne: You know what, you don't even know how cool you are. I just have to tell you that everybody at the station, when they heard you were coming --- we've been all telling Craigslist stories all day --- you are rock star in your world, certainly in public radio.

Craig: I appreciate that, but it means you guys need to get out more often.

Anne: [LAUGHS]

SONG: Lou Reed’s Magic and Loss

Anne: You're here with KCRW's Guest DJ Project. I'm Anne Litt sitting with Craig Newmark, founder of the Web site Craigslist. I see that you've chosen two Leonard Cohen songs out of your five. One is "Anthem" and one is "Democracy." Let's talk about those songs in particular and what they mean to you.

Craig: Well, my favorite artist is Leonard Cohen. He's also more or less my rabbi. The deal with him is that they're more or less giving me my marching orders in terms of what I should be doing right now. The deal is that we're now seeing a big surge in network grassroots democracy. This is something that's really happening and changing the world. It's kind of like 1776 all over again. And these songs, for reasons I don't really understand, got to me on a deep gut level, on a very emotional level, which is rare for me --- speaking as a nerd. But these two songs have unusual resonance right now.

Anne: Here's Leonard Cohen, the song "Anthem."

SONG: Leonard Cohen’s Anthem

Anne: Here's Leonard Cohen's "Democracy."

SONG: Leonard Cohen’s Democracy

Anne: All of these pieces, when I listened to them as a whole, it just --- it was overwhelming to me. And, by the way, every song is seven minutes long, or six minutes long. And I actually printed out the lyrics to a couple of them because I was so sort of, like, I have to read this I just can't listen to it, and they're all poems. I don't know what I just said, but … I was- I was pretty bowled over by by the poetry you chose, I guess is what I'm saying, and it sounds like it's been a life transformation thing for you.

Craig: I'm flattered and I appreciate that, and don't give me too much credit. The deal is, in my work I just started something and was persistent about it and then got someone else much smarter than me to run it --- that's that Jim Buckmaster guy. And me, I'm just doing that. And then outside of the company, I find people who are doing really good stuff that gets results, and I'll try to support that kind of thing.

Anne: Sophie B. Hawkins, "We Are One Body." That is a song that's a romantic song, which is very different from the Leonard Cohen songs.

Craig: Different, and yet somehow the same. There's something real about the artists, the musicians that I tend to select. I guess I am looking for something where somebody's really saying something, and it says something that's genuine, that's not music product, but let's say poetry. It's real music, that does mean a fair amount to me. I mean, my background in music and so on, is pretty unsophisticated. But if something reaches me on a visceral level, that's what works.

SONG: Sophie B Hawkins’ We Are One Body

Anne: I'm Anne Litt in studio at KCRW's Guest DJ Project with Craig Newmark. Thanks so much for joining us today on





Anne Litt