Marc Maron KCRW guest playlist: From Blues to Rock

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Lost in the stacks with Anthony Valadez, Marc Maron, and Novena Carmel. Photo by Malorie McCall.

On the heels of his new HBO special, From Bleak to Dark, comedian and podcaster Marc Maron returns to his live broadcast roots with an extended KCRW guest DJ set. An esteemed interviewer in his own right — remember the time he welcomed sitting president Barack Obama to his Highland Park garage for an episode of WTF? — Maron is equally adept on the other side of the mic. He kicks off the convo with a jab at commuting to the Westside (“I feel like I should bring a tent, some extra food,”) and we’re off and running from there.

The polymath also discusses his recent Tonight Show guitar stint alongside The Roots, and his challenging role in Oscar contender To Leslie. Of course, what Maron really came to do is talk music. 

“I don’t do drugs anymore [so] I’m limited to how I change my dopamine. I primarily listen to music that kind of jacks me up or spaces me out. But it's really based on that kind of feeling,” Maron says. “I definitely use music as some sort of IV drip. … It’s a music that’ll get me somewhere — physically, spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. It’s not really based on words, necessarily. It’s just a vibe thing.”

Sink your teeth in, there’s a lot of meat to this guest DJ excursion.

Songs: Ohia – “Farewell Transmission” 

“Jason Molina [is] a little heavy for me, because I can feel his sadness. And he died young. He was a desperate, in a way, alcoholic, and he died from alcohol. I don't know exactly what this song means, but I can hear his heart in it. And it sgave me a lot of relief during when I was grieving, and I became sort of fascinated with it.”

Wilson Pickett – “Something Within Me” 

“There's a whole part of me that’s built on some sort of blues-based understanding of how I was taught to play guitar and the music I was into when I was a kid, because of certain guitar teachers. But there's something about this Wilson Pickett tune — I also play Jerry Wexler in “Respect” —  and he produced this, this is the Muscle Shoals guys. The pocket on this song, it almost falls apart, the swing is so weirdly spaced and deep on it. They create this kind of blues-R&B pocket and Pickett just has all this room in the middle of it. It's an amazing soul song. I don't even know … it wasn't a hit. But I have all these old records and I'm like, ‘What— why doesn't anyone play this every day?’”

AC/DC – “High Voltage” 

“Whether you like it or not, you're gonna get some AC/DC right now. This is one of the best rock and roll songs ever. It's high voltage. It's got that real rock and roll groove that goes back to the beginning of rock and roll, and it's just pure, man. There's nothing more pure than Bon Scott's AC/DC. It's ridiculous how much I still like AC.DC. It's because it's so simple, but nobody can do it like that.”

Spacemen 3 – “Walkin’ With Jesus” (Sound of Confusion version) 

“I was introduced to Spacemen 3 somewhere in the ‘80s in a basement apartment by a guy named Jay Dobis, who claimed to be best friends with Jonathan Richman when they were kids. We were really high and he said, ‘You gotta listen to this new psychedelic stuff.’ 

“This song is in my constant rotation. There’s many versions, but this one only exists on the Taang Records release of Sound of Confusion, on the bonus content. If you’re a Spacemen person, maybe you haven’t heard this version, but this is the one I like.” 

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Anna Chang