Jeff 'The Dude' Dowd

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The Dude abides! Producer Jeff Dowd, the inspiration for the main character in the cult classic The Big Lebowski, chiseled down a massive list of favorite songs for this set with DJ Jason Eldredge. He tells an unbelievable story about the power of “The Boss,” denounces men’s lack of tenderness and selects a surprising choice that captures his current view of the world. He closes with a song that changed the way “everyone looked at music and danced to music.”

The 10th Anniversary Edition of The Big Lebowski was just released and you can catch Jeff at many of the Lebowski Fest events around the country (which he doesn't get paid to do--"That would be very un-Dude-like.")

For More:


1.) Bruce Springsteen - "Born to Run"
2.) Black Eyed Peas - "Where's the Love"
3.) The Beatles - "All You Need is Love"
4.) Otis Redding - "Try a Little Tenderness" (Live)
5.) James Brown - "Sex Machine"


Jason Eldredge: This is Jason Eldredge from KCRW and I’m sitting here with Jeff Dowd, a movie producer in his own right who is more commonly known as the man who inspired one of the Coen Brothers’ most famous characters -- fans of the movie “The Big Lebowski” know him simply as “The Dude.”

How are you doing Jeff?

Jeff Dowd: The Dude abides. Glad to be at my favorite station.

Jason Eldredge: Well it’s good to have you here. We’re here to talk about the music that has inspired Jeff over the years and why don’t we just jump right into it – you know you gave us a list, but we’ve sort of narrowed it down to five, so why don’t we start with the first one that we have here that you want to share.

Jeff Dowd: This one I can actually tell a nice little story with too. It’s “Born to Run,” by Bruce Springsteen. I was at the Toronto Film Festival, about 4 or 5 years ago. I had a film there. Springsteen was playing a gig at the Sky Dome with 60,000 people – open Sky Dome with a full moon, and I said I got to go to this. And knowing that the guy is going to play for 3 hours I thought, ok I’ll get there an hour late. And so we get there, he’s on his 2nd or 3rd encore doing “Born to Run,” and everybody’s on their feet dancing naturally and we start looking kinda peripherally to our left and we see there’s a couple dozen people who have stopped dancing and we start looking again and it’s kinda growing, the crowd, and then you see this guy in the aisle, down. And they start giving him mouth to mouth and pumping away at his chest and they keep doing this for like a minute and a half, and the guy dies. I mean he died. And then all of a sudden, two EMTs come running down the aisle, and they open up the suitcase, take out the paddles, BABOOM, BABOOM. The guy rallies, stands up, starts dancing. And they go ‘whoa buddy’ and they sit him back down. And that’s the story about how somebody died, literally died, and came back to life during “Born to Run.”

Song: Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run”

Jason Eldredge: You know Jeff, what do you look for when you’re listening to music? Is there a common theme that inspires you about songs?

Jeff Dowd: I like what’s great. And it’s all mood stuff, like if you’re making love in the middle of the night it’s one thing, if you’re in your car. Then there’s songs like the Black Eyed Peas, “Where is the Love,” just blew me away. Because it has so much resonance of both what’s going on in the world, but then it has the resonance of ‘Father, Father, Father’ help us, which is to me, that’s right out of Marvin Gaye almost.

Jason Eldredge: Absolutely

Jeff Dowd: But it’s one of people that understand and respect the tradition of music, and understand what’s going in the world to a sense, and where we’re at. And where we’re at, what they’re basically saying, to kind of go back to Dickens, is ‘this can be the best of times and the worst of times,’ and that’s the challenge for all of us the world today. Every time I give a speech, every time I talk, … these times, which really can and will be the worst of times, can absolutely be the best of times – and they get that in this song.

Song: Black Eyed Peas’ “Where is the Love”

Jason Eldredge: Absolutely

Jason Eldredge: You brought in a little toy, do you mind if we…

Jeff Dowd: Well I just went to London and Italy to actually see my father last week. The day before I arrived, these key rings arrived in the mail, with like a white key ring and Jeff Bridges picture on it and it’s got like six different little things you can push (push button, toy plays lines from The Big Lebowski ‘Nobody calls me Lebowski, you got the wrong guy, I’m the Dude,’ ‘Careful man, there’s a beverage here,’ ‘the Dude abides’). There you go, fun movie.

Jason Eldredge: That is great, that is so great. Well, let’s jump in here, you’re sharing some music with us right here on KCRW, let’s jump into the next thing, I think you have a Beatles track for us next?

Jeff Dowd: I was in 1967 during the Summer of Love, you know it was the equivalent of San Francisco – there I was wearing a caftan and a little amulet around me, right around Portobello road, and the park and stuff. And the song that was on all the time was “All You Need is Love’ and the flip side, which was a great song called “Baby You’re a Rich Man Too,” which was kind of a basic -- an acid song is pretty much what that was, no matter how much anybody may deny it, that’s pretty clearly what they were talking about. I believe in this, it is all you need is love – there’s nothing you can know that isn’t known, nothing you can see that isn’t shown, nowhere you can be it isn’t where you meant to be – it’s easy, all you need is love, all you need is love.

Song: The Beatles “All You Need Is Love”

Jason Eldredge: I’m Jason Eldredge, sitting here with Jeff Dowd, who is better known as “The Dude,” the inspiration behind the lead character in the film “The Big Lebowski,” and we’re talking about music which has inspired him throughout the years – Jeff, you brought in a live track by Otis Redding, here I see. “Try a Little Tenderness”

Song: Otis Redding’s Try a Little Tenderness

Jeff Dowd: This song speaks to something I think a lot of men have lost in today’s world, which is romance, and also tenderness when it comes to women. And, you know, when he says ‘All you gotta do is know where to love her, you got to hold her, squeeze her, never leave her, now get to her, you gotta try a little tenderness.’ And that’s something to remember all the time and live by, particularly in relationships with men and women. And men tend to get a little too caught up in the workaday world and forget really what’s the most important thing, which is, you know, relationships with other folks. Now that could be a gay relationship or a straight relationship, but it’s having that tenderness in a relationship – that’s what the great parts of life are about, one of the great things, and the power and the sweetness of Otis at the same time, that’s the range he had. He could bring it down and be very intimate and then just rock it, you know.

Jason Eldredge: Jeff, what’s the next song that you have for us here?

Jeff Dowd: Well, you can’t, coming from my generation, not have Soul Brother #1 – the godfather of soul – James Brown -- on there.

Jason Eldredge: Absolutely!

Jeff Dowd: He changed the way everybody looked at music and danced to music. You know, there’s something a little different to dancing to rock and roll than dancing to soul, and when he starts it off with ‘fellas, I’m ready to get down and do my thing’…

Song: James Brown’s “Sex Machine”

Jeff Dowd: The lyrics are – you know, this is not Bob Dylan or as Bob Dylan would say, ‘my favorite poet of the 20th century, Smokey Robinson’ – you know, it’s not poetry, but it is rhythm and blues of the greatest dimension.

Jason Eldredge: Well Jeff, thank you so much for stopping by.

Jeff Dowd: My pleasure.

Jason Eldredge: It’s been KCRW and the Guest DJ Project. Any last word here?

Jeff Dowd: Let’s do it in stereo – Jeff – two “Dudes” saying goodbye: “The Dude abides!”

[Jeff’s keychain, simultaneously: “The Dude abides!”]

Jason Eldredge: Awesome. Thank you so much again.

Jeff Dowd: Thank you.