Ed Helms stars in NBC's hit comedy "The Office" and appeared in the blockbuster film “The Hangover,” where he had a hilarious musical number about a sleeping tiger. He is a self-confessed “bluegrass nerd” and takes us on a journey through his adolescence in his guest DJ set, revealing his love for Dolly Parton and a great appreciation for 80’s band Europe, among others. The new season of The Office premieres this week.
For More: http://www.nbc.com/The_Office/bios/ed_helms.shtml
1. 9 to 5 - Dolly Parton
2. The Final Countdown - Europe
3. Benedictus - Simon & Garfunkel
4. Mercy, Mercy, Mercy - Cannonball Adderley Quintet
5. More Often Than Once in a While - Del McCoury
Dan Wilcox: Hey there, this is Dan Wilcox from KCRW and I am here with comedian Ed Helms, star of NBC's "The Office" and the blockbuster hit movie "The Hangover." We're happy to have Ed here to play excerpts of songs that have inspired him over the years, as part of KCRW's "Guest DJ Project." Welcome Ed!
Ed Helms: Thank you very much!
DW: What have you brought for us today?
EH: The first song is Dolly Parton's classic "9 to 5"
This song is important to me for a couple of reasons. Of course the movie "9 to 5" came out in 1980, I was 6 years old, but it was very popular in the television rotation for a number of years after that. So I saw "9 to 5" A LOT on TV and I LOVED the movie, I thought it was the funniest thing.
And, if we're honest, Dabney Coleman, who is a genius, gave his best performance in that movie as the misogynistic boss. And also, Dolly Parton was my first love, and I didn't even know what it was.
EH: Even to this day, I still think that Dolly Parton is one of the sexiest, smartest, sassiest women ever, and there's just something about her energy where she has everyone wrapped around her finger. I don't know what it is…she's smarter than everybody and it’s just really sexy. And this is a great song – it’s got a beat, you can dance to it.
DW: That was Dolly Parton's song "9 to 5", a classic that we just listened to here at KCRW.com. I'm sitting here with Ed Helms. Ed, what is next for us?
EH: Next is "The Final Countdown" by Europe.
I was around 10 or 12, and I was very into BMX bikes and racing BMX bikes. All the neighborhood kids, we built a track where we practiced in my friend’s yard. And I was one of the younger kids on the block and I got picked on a fair amount, not as much respect as I wanted. And songs like this -- "The Final Countdown" -- were so empowering, because you just listened to that keyboard riff, and suddenly you feel like a warrior, and you can take anything on, right? It just gets your adrenaline going, [humming keyboard riff] there's something empowering about it.
Song: Europe – “The Final Countdown”
EH: We built this big jump over a ravine at the bike track and everyone was like "Who's gonna be the first to do it? Who's gonna be the first to do it?” And I was like "I'll do it." And everyone was like "OK! Big Ed's gonna do it" and I think that they just wanted to see me crash, and really hurt myself. But I jumped it, and I cleared it. I was so psyched and all the kids were cheering and stuff. It was the ultimate validation.
I ran home and just cranked up "The Final Countdown" and stomped around my room in triumph! And the song … still when I listen to it, it gets my blood going.
DW: It’s Europe's "The Final Countdown" here on KCRW's Guest DJ Project. While you're listening to this, just imagine a young Ed Helms, hitting this jump on his Predator or whatever it was…
EH…In slow motion. And you're hearing this bad synth trumpet sound in the background.
DW: That was "The Final Countdown" from Europe. I’m sitting here with Ed Helms as part of KCRW's Guest DJ Project. What do we have next?
EH: Next is off of a Simon & Garfunkel album called "Benedictus".
We're moving into kind of my teenage years when, of course, I saw myself as Holden Caulfield-esque, but perhaps even cooler than Holden Caulfield -- and more isolated and more judgmental about the people around me.
So I would read and re-read "Catcher in the Rye" and watch and re-watch "Dead Poets Society" and wallow in my, kind of, manufactured loneliness. It was perfect fuel for my teenage angst.
Song: Simon & Garfunkel – “Benedictus”
DW: That was "Benedictus" from Simon & Garfunkel, one of the songs chosen by Ed Helms as part of KCRW's Guest DJ Project. And, what else do we have here today?
EH: Now we're heading into my college years, and we have a tune called "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy" by The Cannonball Adderley Quintet.
EH: My sophomore year in college I went through this big jazz phase, and this is relatively mainstream jazz, but my roommate and I would wake up on a Saturday morning, crusty from hangovers, and kind of feeling crappy …
DW: With all your teeth, I’m assuming?
EH…of course, of course. Though there was a tiger in our room I remember. I just remember multiple mornings waking up, feeling kind of crappy, but the sun's coming in, it’s a pretty day and you can smell breakfast. And we'd put this song on and just blare it down the hall. And, it just has the most uplifting happy quality. It’s just an awesome song with a great spirit behind it.
Song: Cannonball Adderley Quintet -- Mercy, Mercy, Mercy
DW: That was The Cannonball Adderley Quintet with the song "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy" here on KCRW.com. I’ve got some Ed Helms here with some songs he's selected for this Guest DJ Project. So what's the last song that you've selected for us?
EH: "More Often Than Once in a While" by the Del McCoury Band.
Del McCoury, of course, is one of the great icons of Bluegrass. I am a huge Bluegrass nerd. This song encapsulates everything I love about Bluegrass, which is; its nostalgic, it’s got these great double fiddles with soaring solos, and Del McCoury just has one of the greatest voices in the history of music. And it’s a beautiful song with a nice key change on the chorus. It actually has personal resonance for me because Jake my roommate -- we started a band, we still play together today -- this is one of the first songs that we played together in our first college band called Weedkiller. We covered this song and it’s just always been a favorite.
Song: Del McCoury – More Often Than Once in While
EH: And many years later, Jake and I were living in New York City, and we saw Del McCoury at The Bottom Line, and he took requests at the end of the show and I requested "More Often than Once in a While." He said "What do you think boys, do we know that one?" and they started playing it and Del McCoury messed up the words, and he gets to the end of it and he says "well boys. I think we should play that song more than once in a while.” It’s just a fun song and it has a little more personal history than a lot of them.
DW: That was Del McCoury with "More Often Than Once in a While" as part of the Guest DJ Project with Ed Helms. Ed, thanks so much for joining us on KCRW.com
EH: My pleasure, thanks for having me.
DW: For a complete track list and to find these songs online, go to KCRW.com/guestdjproject.