Jamie Lee Curtis

Hosted by

In her Guest DJ set, actress, activist and best-selling author Jamie Lee Curtis makes it clear that she values family above all else. From an incredible story about how she met her husband to a sweet lullaby dedicated to her kids, the California native sheds a few tears of gratitude as she shares her song picks. Halloween: The Complete Collection Blu-ray box set will be out later this month.


1. Joni Mitchell - "California"
2. Spinal Tap - "Hell Hole"
3. James Taylor - "Millworker"
4. Alejandro Sanz + Berklee College of Music Students - "La Musica No Se Toca"
5. David Nichtern (as sung by Margaret Dorn) - "The Wind Brought You To Me"

Anne Litt: Hi, I’m Anne Litt and I’m here with actress, activist and best-selling author Jamie Lee Curtis. From her days as the “Scream Queen” to recent roles in NCIS and The New Girl, she always makes an impact on screen and we’re thrilled to have her here at KCRW to talk about some of the songs that have inspired her over the years as part of KCRW’s Guest DJ Project. Welcome!

Jamie Lee Curtis: Thank you and just as a disclaimer, KCRW for me is college. The college I didn’t go to, without any frats and beer bongs and whatever they do.

A.L.: You have brought a whole bunch of songs for us here, and you’re starting off with “California” from Joni Mitchell’s Blue.

J.L.C.: I went for my senior year of high school to a prep school in Connecticut. I was a girl from Beverly Hills, I had frosted hair, bell bottoms jeans, little French t-shirts, no bra, corkys. I walked into the dorm in this prep school and there was a girl sitting in straight leg cords, Brooks Brothers striped shirt, down vest, Monet Love Knot earrings, plaid ribbon in her hair, duck boots, smoking a Marlboro Red in the lounge of this dorm that I had just arrived in with my trunk and my glasses on top of my hair.

And this girl was smoking this cigarette and she took a drag on her cigarette and went “You Tony Curtis’ daughter?” And I looked at her and I went “Uh huh.” And she went (inhales), “We heard you were coming.”

And from that moment, I was miserable. I was so homesick and I couldn’t come home and Joni Mitchell’s “California” I played on my stereo in my room over and over and over again. It was my connection to my home. And I can’t tell you what it did to hear that song when I was so far away from home.

Song: Joni Mitchell – “California”

A.L.: So, I see Spinal Tap on your list here.

J.L.C.: It was 1984, I was a young actress and I was in my apartment and I was sitting next to a girlfriend of mine on my couch, my friend Debra Hill who wrote and produced Halloween who became one of my best friends.

I was looking through Rolling Stone with the cover of Cyndi Lauper, with her little skirt twisted one way and her legs going the other and her mouth open.

I opened this page in the magazine and I looked at this picture and I said out loud to Debra Hill, “I’m going to marry that guy.” She said “Oh yeah, I tried to get him in a movie. His name is Chris Guest.” I said “Oh, well I’m going to marry him.”

I’d never seen him, I’d never heard his name and then of course I turned the page and then it’s them in their Spinal Tap outfits. I left my number with his agent, which is very uncharacteristic of me. He never called me. I dated someone else.

And I went to a restaurant and I sat down with my friend Melanie Griffith and her then husband Steven Bauer, and I looked up and Chris was sitting two tables away facing me. I then kind of covered my mouth to my friends and went, “Oh my gosh, there’s this guy I called, I left my number and he never called me and I’m so embarrassed.”

And then he got up to leave seconds later and he stood up, he shrugged his shoulders and he kind of went “Bye.” I shrugged my shoulders and then went “Bye.”

And he left. That was June 28th and he called me the next day, and we went out July 2nd, 1984. He was leaving to go do Saturday Night Live for a year; I was doing the movie Perfect until December. He left August 8th, we got engaged September 10th and we got married December 18th that year.

Song: Spinal Tap –“Hell Hole”

A.L.: We just heard “Hell Hole” from This is Spinal Tap, of course, a legendary movie. Jamie Lee Curtis is here with us for the Guest DJ Project. Now an icon, James Taylor. And you chose the song “Millworker”.

J.L.C.: It was my beginning to understand the possibility of telling a complete story. In one song, he tells this incredibly moving story. It makes me cry every single time I hear it because more and more people are trying to source out where something comes from: their food, the clothes they wear, even the art they see or the books they read. We have become inured to any sense of authenticity and here’s a story about a women who works in a mill.

And there’s a line in it where she says “I’m never going to meet the man whose name is on the label. It’s just me and my machine.” And this woman from the moment she sat down to that mill to the day she dies is going to be in front of that machine.

I think it popped my princess balloon and it made me understand that the world is filled with mill workers and that the privilege of our lives, that we cannot for one second take it for granted.

Song: James Taylor – “Millworker”

A.L.: That was “Millworker” by James Taylor from the album Flag and now you’ve brought something very different from this, it’s “La Musica No Se Toca”.

J.L.C.: I am not a musician. I listen to music. Although, I did play in Shaun Cassidy’s first band - I played rhythm guitar - and I played a couple of songs, which I am not going to sing here on KCRW, but it’s not as if I have never picked up an instrument. I faked instruments for movies - thank you Freaky Friday - and my husband is on the board of the Berklee College of Music.

One day, he forwarded from Roger Brown, who is the president at Berklee, a video.

They recorded this all over the world, with individual students doing very small portions, singing and musical instruments. At the end of it, it says “This was made in tribute to the victims of the Boston bombings.”

I couldn’t have been more proud of Berklee and my husband.

And then I read the lyrics, and in English they say “you’ll pass on, these times will too, all the moments you’ll see, the empires and the wars will pass, the kisses and everything you see, but the verses and the whys will remain, remember this song, the music shall remain.”

And I thought, you know, I need to make sure that I include something that’s about the hope of music. That music can save us all.

Song: Alejandro Sanz + Berklee College of Music Students – “La Musica No Se Toca”

AL: Your final song is a lullaby and it’s called “The Wind Brought You To Me”.

JLC: I write books for children. My second book that I wrote was a book about adoption. Both of my children are adopted at birth. It’s a book called Tell Me Again About the Night I Was Born, which is the retelling of a child’s birth story.

There is no more sacred exchange in the universe than between two mothers. I’ve been the recipient twice of that exchange and I wanted to put a lullaby on it. If I was going to try to put into words what I feel for my children, David Nichtern did it in his song and I just, I can’t do a guest DJ set without including my family. Because without them I am nothing and so here’s “The Wind Brought You to Me”.

Song: David Nichtern (as sung by Margaret Dorn) – “The Wind Brought You to Me”

AL: Jamie thanks so much for joining us. Thank you for making me cry.

JLC: And thank you for making me cry.

Song: Alejandro Sanz + Berklee College of Music Students – “La Musica No Se Toca”






Anne Litt