Actor Elliott Gould shares a set of songs from artists who represent his philosophies about life, from the idealism of Pete Seeger’s folk songs to the political poetry of John Lennon. He also talks about the nature of great art, both music and acting. His latest film, “Dorfman in Love” premieres March 22.
For more: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001285/
1 - Oh, I Had a Golden Thread - Pete Seeger
2 - While We're Young - Mabel Mercer
3 - Nature Boy - Jason Gould
4 - Next (Au suivant) - Wolfgang Knittel (from Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris)
5 - Working Class Hero - John Lennon
Eric J. Lawrence with Elliott Gould
Hi I'm Eric. J Lawrence and I am here with Elliott Gould. From Mash and Friends to Ocean 11 and its sequels, he is a prolific stage and screen actor and we are very happy to have him here. Today we are going talk about song that have inspired him over the years as part of KCRW's Guest DJ Project.
Eric: Elliott, thank you so much for coming down.
Elliott: Well, thanks for allowing me to be here.
Eric: What's the first song you got for us?
Elliott: “Oh, Had I A Golden Thread” by Pete Seeger. It has great meaning to me since I am an idealist and this is all about idealism.
Eric: What lead you to the path of Pete Seeger and folk music. Was folk music something you were interested in?
Elliott: No, I didn't know what folk music is or was, but it's so logical and so pure and it's so true and, to our culture, it's so American. As I had said to several people, for me, my take on the American is that which has evolved from everyone else as in the infant of the rest of the world. When I said that to Mr. Alfred Hitchcock he said "I accept".
Eric: (Laughs) Did you ever get a chance to say that to Mr. Pete Seeger?
Elliott: We haven't met but my feeling about music, you know, is we meet in his work. He's more than just a national treasure but I'll accept him being a great American patriot. He's just phenomenal.
Song: Pete Seeger -- “Oh, Had I A Golden Thread”
Eric: That was Pete Seeger with “Oh Had I A Golden Thread” selected by our guest Elliott Gould. What's the next track you have for us?
Elliott: “While We're Young” by Mabel Mercer and, that as well anybody with a heart and a soul, to hear the inimitable Mabel Mercer express and interpret While We're Young should be able to identify with it and it's so moving to me and so synonymous evolution.
Song: Mabel Mercer – “While We’re Young”
Eric: That was Mabel Mercer with While We're Young as selected by our guest Mr. Elliott Gould. What's the next track you got for us?
Elliott: Nature Boy by Jason Gould.
Eric: (Laughs) A relation possibly?
Elliott: He's my son. My first born. Jason made a 70th birthday film commemorating his mother's 70th birthday and used and sang “Nature Boy” on it. So, of course, he and it means everything to me.
Song: Jason Gould – “Nature Boy”
Eric: We were talking early, I had mentioned I am a bachelor, but being a DJ here at the station, to be able to share music with people by playing it with them on the air. In the context of a family was that something you did for your children? Did you share music with them?
Elliott: (Laughs) That’s a great question. Sometimes it's difficult to share with the next generations. You know, they’re so much smarter than we are and they know so much better than we do and then it's really important for us to be able to accept ourselves and to come into a balance so as not to interfere with the next generation’s being able to find us within themselves and that's where music is more than a gift. It’s such an ingenius…it's nature itself. To love and to be loved in return I mean, what is more than that?
Eric: That was Jason Gould with Nature Boy as selected by our guest Elliott Gould. What's the next track you got for us?
Elliott: “Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris” and the one that I chose is “Next”. There is no one like Jacques Brel. He's a poet. He's such a brilliant, creative genius and “Next” represents the insult that life and human beings have in terms of our serving an establishment and serving values that may be anti- nature and anti-ourselves and I find it so brilliant.
Song: “Next” -- Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris
Eric: He's an interesting character in that he was also an actor, Jacques Brel was. It's interesting the connection between making music, performing music, and acting.
Elliott: I didn't think of him as an actor. I thought of him more as a poet. I'm sure he acted, but he was and, as far as I'm concerned IS, a force of nature and one of the reasons I continue to act is that I love to play.
I had seen a transparent paper weight with a saying in it quotation "The greatest artist in the world is an uninhibited child at play" and I subscribe to that.
Then when I mentioned that to the late great Herb Gardner who wrote A Thousand Clowns, he and his wife said ‘and Picasso’ and I said ‘Well, first of all I didn't know you were materialist because I don't care who anybody is and I love Picasso too, but I tell you what, you keep Picasso and we'll keep the child because as far as I'm concerned, without the spirit of the child, it's all meaningless.’ And then I discovered that Picasso is the one who made the statement.
Eric: That was “Next” from the musical “Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris” as selected by our guest Elliott Gould. What's the last track you got for us?
Elliott: Well, “Working Class Hero” by John Lennon. I met him twice. I love his work, of course, and I think that his poetry and his writing is so right in the moment and pretty much how I think and what I feel and as far as our socioeconomic basis, we must not forget where we come from and who we are and what it is that we really represent and not be blinded by superficial and materialistic success and I believe that John Lennon and his work really represents it brilliantly.
Song: “Working Class Hero” – John Lennon
Eric: Do you use music in ways to prepare for roles? Is that something you can use to get into another character, or is it all part of you that you just have to bring into your own taste.
Elliott: I think it’s part of us. It’s a part of anyone. I was blessed and privileged to be John Wooden's friend for his last three years. I wanted to meet him and we met. And the first thing he said to me, I didn't know he had been an English teacher at Indiana, and he said "The most important word in the English language is love and the second most important word” – and I didn’t know there was another word –“ is balance". So music gives us a balance as to our feelings, as to our heart and soul, as to sometimes meaning, since I do believe that all meaning is abstract.
Eric: That was “Working Class Hero” by John Lennon as selected by our guest Elliott Gould. Well Elliott I want to thank you so much for coming down and sharing some music with us.
Elliott: Oh thank you for having me. It was a great experience and I really appreciate it.
Eric: For a complete track listing and to find these songs online go to KCRW.com/guestdjproject and subscribe to the podcast through iTunes.
(music plays out)