On February 1, 2003, the Space Shuttle Columbia broke apart while reentering the earth's atmosphere. John Roderick, singer and songwriter of The Long Winters, wrote "The Commander Thinks Aloud" about that fateful moment. This episode was made from an interview I did with John Roderick in front of a live audience in Seattle, where we discussed how and why he made this song. Show notes
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Hip hop blogger and Pitchfork columnist Andrew Noz joins us with a couple of his all-time favorite hip hop tracks. His first recommendation is Pacific Coast Remix by DJ Quik (featuring Ludacris), a track devoted to sunny Los Angeles's dark side. He also suggests checking out the 1983 track Beat Bop by Rammellzee and K-Rob. It's a song from an era where the uptown and downtown communities mingled in a way that the rap world would rarely see again.
Weird Al Yankovic is the undisputed king of parody music. Inspired by the novelty songs he heard on broadcasts of The Dr. Demento Show, Yankovic began writing his own comedy songs for the accordion -- starting with a love song to his parents' car, entitled Belvedere Cruisin'.
He sat down with us in 2011, before his album Alpocalypse was released. He talks about his food parodies (think "Eat It"), his special talent for rapping, and having an unusually long and successful career for a parodist (or musician of any kind).
Weird Al just kicked off a nationwide summer tour. He's also just released a new children's book, My New Teacher and Me. You can find more information .
Geoff Nunberg is a professor at UC Berkeley, the resident linguist of Fresh Air, and the author of Ascent of the A-Word: Assholism, the First Sixty Years. He talks to us about his studies into the word "asshole," which began life as a bit of slang used by WWII servicemen and has come to envelop the concept of modern incivility.
We spoke in 2012. The book is now out in paperback.
A sweet yet haunting late-night listen. St. Vincent was on Letterman last week singing "Cruel" from her new album, "Strange Mercy", which is set for release on Sept. 13th. If you want to hear more, you can stream the album now on NPR.org.
Did you catch the sweet two-episode set of "Louie" last night? One of the shows featured flashbacks to Louie's early days in standup and his relationship with a comic who started out with him. In the final flashback, Louie reveals that he has been asked to appear on Letterman. From there, we know that Louie goes on to success and acclaim, but his friend does not. It's a classic and moving story of how even close friends can evolve and slowly grow apart.
Apparently our good friend Adam Lisagor (of "Put This On") was so intrigued by the episode that he searched through the interwebs to find video of the referenced Letterman appearance and posted it on his Tumblr, Lonely Sandwich.
Here it is:
Adam also had a great observation about the set:
"Louie CK’s first appearance on Letterman, 1995.
Referenced on last night’s Louie (with a young Louie portrayed confusingly by a kid who looks less like Louie in ‘95 (anybody else see some Fincher in there?) and more like Ham from The Sandlot.
Louie, from this point in his career, shows every bit of the brilliance he does now. And still, it’s refreshing to see him tell one of the worst hacky 90s jokes ever written, at the very end of his set. Still figuring shit out. Just like the rest of us."
Even more than that, though, I recommend watching Thursday's show online. The whole thing's great, including the musical performance by a wonderful country singer I'd never heard named Jamey Johnson, but if you want to cut straight to the animals, fast forward to the second dot on the timeline. Then watch, and laugh like you've never laughed before.
If I ever get a talk show, I want it to be all demonstrations. Cooking segments, animals... fuck celebrities. Just all dumb stuff, all the time.