Evan Kleiman

Evan Kleiman is the beloved host of KCRW's award-winning program Good Food. From a cello suite to chaotic classic rock and an Italian classic, she takes us on a musical trip from her childhood to her first time in Europe with lots of eye-opening stories along the way. (Hosted by Eric J. Lawrence)

1. Alec Guinness - "Peter and The Wolf (Prokofiev)"
2. Pablo Casals - "Suite #1 - Bach Cello Suites"
3. The Beatles - "A Day in the Life"
4. Jimi Hendrix - "All Along the Watchtower"
5. Mina - "Parole Parole"

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Host Eric J. Lawrence with Guest DJ Evan Kleiman (Photo by Chris Ho)

E.J: Hi, I’m Eric J Lawrence - Evan Kleiman, the much beloved host of Good Food since 1998 knows better than just about anybody about food and its surrounding culture: making it, eating it, and selling it. She owes her expertise to her passion for all things culinary, and being a former restaurateur, and author to numerous cook books and a frequent speaker on food sustainability. Oh, and she can bake a mean pie. But today like a Lazy Susan we turn the tables on Evan and I grill her about the music that has influenced her life in and out of the kitchen. Welcome Evan.

E.K: Hello, Eric.

E.J: So, what's the first track we got for us?

K: So, for my first pick I chose “Peter and the Wolf” by Prokofiev. It may seem like a very strange first pick, but I grew up in a household where music was always playing, and I was brought to concerts here in Los Angeles as a very young person, and “Peter and the Wolf” is one of those pieces that’s meant to teach little kids about all the different parts of the orchestra. I kind of took it in a different way though because I made my nursery school teacher break the record in front of me because I was so terrified by the emotions that it stirred in me.

E.J: Wow. What were those emotions?

K: I think fear. Disney is very different now. When I was a little kid -- and this was a very classic Disney version of “Peter and the Wolf” -- it's very scary. The wolves, wherever the evil is, it’s super evil, so this is the ultimate soundtrack of that.

I just remember that there was this one day I was probably three and a half, and my nursery school teacher put on “Peter and the Wolf”, and I think it was the combination of being in that brick building enclosed, and the rain pouring down, and starting to hear that wolf sound of the wolf coming after Peter that I just flipped out, and I just told her she had to break the record. And, she said: I’ll tell you what Evan, we’ll just put it aside. And I just wouldn't give in.

E: So, she really did have to break the record?

K: I made her break it in front of me.

E: Wow. Well, here it is. A powerful piece of music from Prokofiev's “Peter and the Wolf”.

*Song: Alec Guinness - Peter and The Wolf (Prokofiev)*

E: That was Peter and The Wolf the Alec Guinness narrated version. Well, what's the next track you got for us?

K: The next track is a little bit from “Bach Cello Suite No. 1,” as played by Pablo Casals. I started taking cello lessons when I was about seven -- probably due to what I had seen going to see Peter and the Wolf. I fell in love with the instrument because of its timbre, which is just like a human voice. And there is something about the Bach Cello Suites that at that time of my life -- by the time I got around to starting to be able to play them, I was maybe an early teens-- when you feel that your life is really chaotic, and this piece of music is really about order and melody. And I've always been very drawn to melody and music. It fed me emotionally, this music. I would listen to it over and over again.

E: Do you still play the cello?

K: No, basically once I started... This is my excuse of why I don't play the cello anymore. When I started cooking and I had my hands in water all the time, it became much more difficult to maintain the calluses necessary to be good at playing a stringed instrument.

*Song: Pablo Casals - Suite #1 - Bach Cello Suites*

E: Well, here it is the “Bach Cello Suite No. 1” as performed by Pablo Casals.

E: That was Pablo Casals performing “Bach Cello Suite No. 1”. What's the next track you have for us?

K: Well ,Of course the next track its the Beatles.

E: Sure

K: The Beatles. That was my first concert. When people say: Who's your first concert?

E: Wow K: My first concert was The Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl.

E: Okay, That's classic.

K: So, they were the soundtrack of my childhood because I was 11 when they were on the Ed Sullivan show. And picking a Beatles song is incredibly hard, but I have just vivid memories of listening for the first time to “Sgt Pepper”. I think I ditched school with my boyfriend, and another one of our friends, and we went to his friend's house and got properly baked. And literally for probably six hours did nothing but listen to this album over and over again which is, you know, great that we all have access to this music, but we listen to all of our music alone by ourselves within our heads and our headphones. The social activity of sitting with really close friends and discovering a piece of music for the first time together and then exploring it by repeated playing. There's no substitute for that. So, I chose “A Day in the Life” from “Sgt Pepper”.

And for me “A Day in the Life”, just like Casals for me was order; “A Day in the Life” to me is chaos, but melodic as well. And going back and listening to the lyrics of that song -- very, very in the now.

E: Well, here it is. A timeless piece of music from The Beatles' “A Day in the Life.”

*Song: The Beatles - A Day in the Life*

E: That was the Beatles classic “A Day in the Life” as selected by our guest Evan Kleinman. What's the next song you got for us?

K: The next song is Jimi Hendrix, “All Along the Watchtower” because it's a two-fer. It’s Jimi Hendrix and It's Bob Dylan.

K:What can you say? You know, I was coming of age. So, that also means sexually, right? It was during the 60's, and I grew up in LA, and I went to concerts constantly. And I don't know how this happened, but I went to the Whiskey all the time when I was a teenager. Either they never checked ID, or they didn't care or they had a different focus then, but I remember going to see The Jimi Hendrix's Experience at the Whiskey, and so being like 15 ft away.

E: Wow.

K: But “All Along the Watchtower” for me is again, lyricly, just a song that takes you away, and also I think a perfect song for now. But his incredible talent of the guitar and his musicality, but then that voice of butter which, to a teenage girl, was swoon worthy. Yeah, he was definitely my fave.

E: You speak of these components that made the essence of a magisterial song like that, as if they are ingredients.

K: I am really aware of layering. I love how there are layers in life. And certainly with music, when you have different layers of tracks coming together; each of them exploring something emotional. And then you lay on top of that lyrics -- somebody is taking you on a journey. It's the best part of what music offers.

What I think is fascinating about music, compared to what I do, is what I do is so physical and non-ethereal. It's something you make in real time and then gets consumed. Whereas music is the absolute opposite of that. It exists in these waves that we can barely see. E: Well, here is that great combination: Jimi Hendrix covering Bob Dylan with “All Along the Watchtower.”

*Song: Jimi Hendrix - All Along the Watchtower*

E: That was Jimi Hendrix with “All Along the Watchtower.” So, what's the final track you've got for us?

K: Ok, the next one is kind of a wild card but, in my life, not really. And it's Mina, who was the classic Italian singer of the 60's and 70's, which was the time that I was going to Italy for the first time. So, when I was exploring Italy when I was 17, 18, 19 years old - Mina was the soundtrack to that experience. Just,in my mind, it's being on a train and having my walkman, and listening to her sing “Parole Parole”. And just becoming besotted with the culture; with the way the air felt, and the way the countryside looked, and, of course, the way the food tastes.

E: Is that around the time you kind of first, taken serious the culinary experience of being something that you might venture into as a profession.

K: Well, I started cooking for money when I was in high school, and I would sell cookies to stoners.

E: (laughs)

K: They were not stoned cookies. They were just regular cookies, but there was an appreciative audience at my high school at the time. And that's actually how I financed my first trip to Europe.

E: (laughs) Wow! That's a lot of cookies!

K: (laughs) Yeah, a lot of demand. And so I was already, sort of, like some young people would finance their first foray into earning money by being a server, for me it was being a cook. I already kind of knew that I loved cooking, but Italy definitely was where I became really aware of my hunger to learn about cooking in a cultural way -- not just what's on the plate, but the story behind it.

E: Well, here is Mina in duet with the song “Parole Parole”.

*Song: Mina - Parole Parole*

E: That was the song “Parole Parole”, a classic Italian song. Well, Evan, we really appreciate you taking some time to share some of your music favorites with us.

K: Thank you, Eric!

E: For a complete track listing, and to find the songs online go to KCRW.com/guestdjproject and subscribe to the podcast through itunes.