Actor Diego Luna takes us on a musical journey through his life, from the song he associates with his breakout role to the Johnny Cash track that comforts him during lonely times on movie shoots. He also spotlights a band that manages to both talk about important issues in Mexico and make people dance. Diego directed the film Cesar Chavez, a biopic about the late great labor leader Cesar Chavez, which is out later this month.
Photo Credit: Larry Hirshowitz Photography
1. Eagle Eye Cherry - To Love Somebody
2. Los Tigres del Norte - El Circo
3. David Bowie - Space Oddity
4. Johnny Cash - Redemption Song
5. Bobby Vinton - Mr. Lonely
Liza Richardson: Hi, I’m Liza Richardson from KCRW and I am here with actor Diego Luna. He’s been acting since childhood, upholding a family tradition of working in film and he broke out with his starring role in the film Y Tu Mama También. He just reached another career goal directing his first English language film, Cesar Chavez, a biopic about the late great labor leader, Cesar Chavez. And today we’re going to be talking about songs that have inspired him over the years as part of KCRW’s Guest DJ project. Diego, welcome.
Diego Luna: Thank you very much, so excited to be here!
LR: So, what’s going to be the first track to start with?
DL: Because you talked about Y Tu Mama También, why not start with Eagle Eye Cherry, “To Love Somebody.” That was part of the soundtrack of that film. I listen to that one every time I am either lonely or a little sad because it brings me back memories that changed my life, that made my life great, and that allowed me to not just expand my horizons in terms of work, but also to understand that my job gives me the chance to become part of a family in a way. And the family of Y Tu Mama También is always gonna be there for me. Not just Alfonso and Gael, but everyone around was so important and, at that time, in fact, it gave me the strength to be where I am today.
Song: Eagle Eye Cherry - “To Love Somebody”
LR: That was Eagle Eye Cherry with the track “To Love Somebody”. So, Diego, what’s next?
DL: I think we should go for “El Circo”. This is Los Tigres del Norte. “El Circo” is a song where they talk about a former president of Mexico called Carlos Salinas de Gortar, which happened to be the president from ’88 to ’94. In a way, they were the ones telling the story of Mexico for many years, you know? They were the ones that first talked about important issues to many that did not have access to information or were not willing to look for it. And, they make you laugh, but then there’s always a moment where you go, ‘yeah, that’s true.’
DL: They always talk about the reality they live in. They always talk about those things that matter to them through their songs and they’re very popular. These guys would get thousands of people to dance with a song that was saying something about… the world we live in.
And, suddenly, it’s that merge of music and entertainment and fun and party that can also be connected to what we believe in. But these guys manage to send information to a big audience and a big crowd and I think they’re amazing.
Song: Los Tigres del Norte- “El Circo”
LR: That is "El Circo," it’s by Los Tigres del Norte. And it’s the choice of our guest DJ, Diego Luna. And, tell me about your next choice and the story behind it.
DL: Okay, let’s go for “Space Oddity” and David Bowie.
I love theatre and there was a whole representation behind David Bowie and I kinda loved that as a kid and as a teenager. I grew up listening to him and, this one, in fact, is special. Suddenly it’s someone telling you a whole story, from beginning to end, like theatre, where things happen from beginning to end every night. And I kinda love that feeling of representation, that music wasn’t just what happens inside a studio where they record and that’s it and then you’re lucky enough to listen to it.
This guy would perform every night, every time he played. And there was, the world of my father, I guess. My father is a set designer and I grew up in theatre and in his opera work, looking at all these crazy people getting ready. This big lie, you know, to try to convince somebody of something that is actually not happening. And David Bowie is a little bit like that.
Song: David Bowie – “Space Oddity”
LR: That’s David Bowie with Space Oddity. So, what’s your next choice?
DL: Okay, let’s go for “Redemption Song”, a version with Johnny Cash. I knew the Bob Marley version for years, and there’s tons of versions of this one, but there’s something about the voice of Johnny Cash.
I wasn’t familiar with his work, and I just thought there was so much depth there and I think I listened to this track for two or three years, over and over and over and over.
There’s something about that deep voice that is like being next to your father, I guess. You know, comforting. I remember when I was 22, something like that, I lived for a year and a half in California and then recently too, I lived here for four years. And almost the whole time I was going back and forth. But, because of what I do, I spend a lot of time alone, and that feeling of having the voice, the deep voice. I grew up with my father and he smoked. He doesn’t smoke anymore, but he smoked so, so much and his voice was always like… [gravelly sound]. So, I guess a psychologist would say that the connection is very easy to make.
Song: Johnny Cash – “Redemption Song”
LR: The incredible Johnny Cash covering Bob Marley’s "Redemption Song." Diego Luna, what’s your final song choice?
DL: This is "Mr. Lonely." Bobby Vinton. I acted in a film called Mister Lonely, directed by Harmony Korine. And it came in the right moment of my life. It was a film that allowed me to explore and do stuff I have never done before. I played an impersonator of Michael Jackson. And the story is lovely because it’s an impersonator of Michael Jackson that is lonely, lives in France, doesn’t speak the language, and one day he’s performing and he meets a Marilyn Monroe impersonator and he falls in love with her and she invites him to this place in Scotland that is a commune of impersonators.
So he arrives to a place where he belongs. Suddenly, he meets Abraham Lincoln and Charles Chaplin, everyone is around, and it’s just impersonators living like characters every day. And it is a film and a story about accepting who you are or if there is a moment where you look at yourself in the mirror and you don’t like what you see, you can actually do something about it.
Song: Bobby Vinton – “Mr. Lonely”
LR: Diego Luna thank you so much for joining us at KCRW.com for our Guest DJ project. Thank you for coming to the station.
DL: Thank you very much!