Actress Judy Greer is just about everywhere, from comedic roles in Arrested Development, and Two and a Half Men to dozens of films. She calls the Pretenders’ Chrissie Hynde her “favorite female vocalist of all time” and shows both her romantic side and love of grunge in her Guest DJ set. Judy stars in “Carrie”, which opens this weekend.
For more: https://twitter.com/missjudygreer
Banner Photo by Larry Hirshowitz
Eric J. Lawrence: Hi I'm Eric J. Lawrence and I'm here with actress Judy Greer. From comedic roles in Arrested Development, and Two and a Half Men, to dozens of films, Judy is just about everywhere. But today we're gonna talk about some songs that have inspired her over the years as part of KCRW's Guest DJ Project. Judy, thank you so much for coming by.
Judy Greer: I'm dying that I'm here. I'm so happy.
EJL: Well, what's the first song you got for us?
JG: First song is called "Isabel" by a band called Unrest.
I listened to it every single morning when I woke up and got ready for school. At the time I just thought it was the best way to start my day, like you can kind of here the rhythm of it.
It's kind of mellow but it moves it's not really like in your face happy but it's not sad and melancholy so it kind of, for me, would set the mood for my day. It kind of gave me like a nice baseline.
I guess I didn't really realize it was happening. It was the last time when anyone would ever make sure I woke up when my alarm went off, that anyone was gonna be buying groceries that I was eating specifically my mom, my dad and you know I had my own bedroom and I had my own car and I had my own stereo and my own record collection and they let me paint the walls whatever color I wanted, but I was still living at home and I was still a kid. And that was the end of that, after my senior year I graduated and moved to Chicago. But this song that I listened to everyday got me ready for my day, but it also got me ready for my life.
Song: "Isabel" --Unrest
EJL: That was Unrest with the song "Isabel", as selected by our guest Judy Greer. What's the next track you got for us?
JG: The next track is called "Kid" by The Pretenders. Chrissie Hynde is probably my favorite female vocalist of all time. If I could sing -- which I can't sing, I mean everyone can sing, but I can't sing well -- I would want my voice to sound like hers. She just has this really specific quality to it. I don't know how to describe it. It just sounds so clear and resonant and supported… that sounds like theater school talk, but you know what I mean.
Song: "Kid" by The Pretenders.
EJL: Being somebody that works in the entertainment industry, do you feel like you need models, like Chrissie Hynde, for you?
JG: I think that it helps sometimes to like pop your collar, and if it takes like thinking, ‘Today, I'm gonna be like her today. I'm gonna listen to The Pretenders like the whole drive to my audition, and I'm gonna go in there, and I'm gonna nail it.’
EJL: That was "Kid" from The Pretenders as selected by our guest Judy Greer. Well, what's the next track you got for us?
JG: Next I have chosen "I Am One" by Smashing Pumpkins. I don't know if it's my favorite Smashing Pumpkins song, but I chose it because it's the first song on “Gish”, which was the first record that they ever made. So, if you never heard the Smashing Pumpkins before, which I had not, and you bought this cd at a record store, and you put it on and pushed play, this would be the first thing you ever heard of this band. And probably it would blow your mind.
Song: "I Am One" -- Smashing Pumpkins
JG: One of the most amazing live performances I've ever seen was when I saw them on their first tour, and they were playing in tiny little places, they came to this place in Detroit called Andrews Hall. I think I had to use a fake ID to get in.
When they were starting to get their instruments ready to start playing I made my way to the front and immediately had to get rescued. Because the mosh pit started right away and I was probably thirty pounds lighter at the time. I thought I was going to get killed. They rocked out.
EJL: That was "I Am One" by the Smashing Pumpkins as selected by our guest Judy Greer. So, what's the next track you got for us?
JG: “Neighborhood #1”: Tunnels by Arcade Fire.
Similar to "I Am One", “Neighborhood #1” was the first song on their first album as a band, and the reason this was a personal song to me is because my husband and I, before we were married, we (and we still do), we have a long commute, and we try to take it together when we can.
And he one day wanted to play me this song. And he turned it up really loud in the car and was kind of yelling to me the lyrics of this song to make sure that I heard what it was and what they meant. And I had heard the song before with him, but I hadn't really listened, I hadn't listened to it loudly when it was the only thing I could hear. And to hear him telling me what the song was saying, and what it meant, it was so beautiful. A theme in our relationship was always about how we felt. Like we feel like kids when we're together and we feel like we're in our late teens when we're hanging out and how special that is, and this song really speaks to that idea.
"Neighborhood #1: Tunnels" by Arcade Fire
JG: Someone once told me that when a man plays you a song, that you should always listen to the lyrics because it's harder for men to communicate their feelings and emotions in words. They have an easier time playing you a song.
And while I would say most of my girlfriends, generally speaking, we respond to music based on tone, emotion, the energy of the music, the sound of the singer, I feel like men really respond to the lyrics in music and they really respond to what a song is saying. And that's maybe how they can relate to a situation in their life, or a person, or a feeling they don't know how to put to words. I feel like it's important when guys play song for you and when guys play you mix tapes -- you got to listen to the lyrics and see what they're trying to tell you.
EGL: I believe I can attest to your theory being correct in the mix tape thing. Well here is Arcade Fire with “Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)”.
Song: Arcade Fire -- “Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)”
EGL: That was The Arcade Fire with Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels) as selected by our guest Judy Greer. What the last track you got for us?
JG: A song called "Oh Me, Oh My" by Aretha Frankli. It's I guess, technically, "Oh Me, Oh my (I'm Such A Fool For You Baby)" and it's a cover that she did.
When Aretha sang it, it builds at the end of the song to this amazing crescendo and there's so much love and passion that it feels, when you hear it, she must have written this song for someone you know? And that's what makes such a great performer, so much passion when they sing, when they are communicating the feelings and the lyrics of the songs.
I love it now because it's such a great love song and she never actually says that she loves the person that she's singing too in the lyrics of this song. She never says anything like "I love you" or anything like that, she says "I'm a fool for you".
And as I grew up and I fell in love I started thinking about how love is a mess and you do stupid things when you are in love with someone and you make a fool of yourself and you kind of just have to be okay with that.
Hopefully, the hope is, that you find someone who is willing to make a fool of their self for you as well so you guys are both fools together, but when she talks in this song about all the dumb things she would do for this guy, it blows my mind.
EJL: Well here it is, the classic from Aretha Franklin "Oh Me, Oh My (I'm A Fool For You Baby).
"Oh Me, Oh My (I'm A Fool For You Baby) plays.
EJL: That was Aretha Franklin with "Oh Me, Oh My (I'm A Fool For You Baby) as selected by our guest Judy Greer. Judy, I want to thank you so much for coming down and sharing your picks with us.
JG: Thank for having me it went by so fast! At least for me, thank you!
EJL: You're welcome. For a complete track listing and to find these songs online go to www.KCRW.com/guestdjproject and subscribe to the podcast through iTunes.