Aaron’s Radio Show

Episode 22

My Three Songs with Jen Lapin

 

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Notes

Episode Notes

EPISODE 22 – My Three Songs with Jen Lapin:  Welcome, everyone, to Episode 22. This is the twelfth in our series of episodes called My Three Songs where my guest chooses three memorable songs and we listen to the songs and talk about why they are meaningful to my guest.

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Three Songs

  1. Our House – Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (1970)
  2. When Smokey Sings – ABC (1987)
  3. Stagger Lee – Grateful Dead (1978)

Aaron’s Radio Show has been licensed by ASCAP and BMI to include songs from their repertories in performances on this website.

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Transcript

This transcript was originally generated using artificial intelligence ("AI") software. It has been edited by a human being, but it may still contain some misspellings, lack necessary punctuation, or include other anomalies. We are regularly working to improve our transcripts!


Jake:

Coming to you almost live from Berkeley, California. It's Aaron's Radio Show, with your host, Aaron Gobler.

Aaron Gobler:

Thanks, Jake. And welcome, everybody to Episode 22. Welcome to My Three Songs where I play three special songs chosen by my guest, and we talk about why they chose each song. Today, my guest is Jen Lapin, a good high school friend. And you may remember her from the very first episode back in August. Jen, word on the street is that you've been hankering to do the show again, for the past 75 days. So like, here's your chance, how do you feel?

Jen Lapin:

I am honored to be the second, the first and the first repeat guest on your My Three Songs format. And also, I will say that I always enjoy our conversations. So it's really, really fun to do this on a Sunday afternoon with you.

Aaron Gobler:

Well, thank you that. That's very sweet. I appreciate that. And it is, it's definitely fun catching up with you. I want to thank you again for being on the show, again. Episode 11 seems like it was an eternity ago. I sure hope I've improved as a host since then, honestly, what made you want to be on the show again?

Jen Lapin:

The first time I filled out the form to be honest here, I looked at my playlist and picked three songs that had some meaning to me. But you know, I just sort of picked them because I liked them. And then I listened to some of the other episodes and thought, oh, I need to put more thought in this. I want a do over. I mean, I enjoyed the songs that I picked and the reasons that I picked them were real reasons and my experience with them. But I wanted the chance to pick three more songs that had some more meaning and some more stories behind them for me and the songs themselves. And also, I hadn't picked any Grateful Dead songs last time. And clearly that is my identifier. So I had to pick one.

Aaron Gobler:

So you didn't feel like you were being true to yourself if there was not a Grateful Dead song in that list.

Jen Lapin:

Well, no, I I have other musical tastes. But I feel like some people expected a Grateful Dead song. Because some of the comments that I got from some of our mutual highschool friends and also some of my college friends who who did listen said, Why didn't you pick a Grateful Dead song and I said, Well cuz I'm, I'm more than that. But if I get to do it again, I'll pick a Grateful Dead song.

Aaron Gobler:

So it really wasn't something you wanted to do. But it was more like a peer pressure or maybe your friends wouldn't listen to the show?

Jen Lapin:

Yeah, kinda. It was kind of like that. But it was more like, well, as we had the conversation and I did pick three songs and the second time didn't pick a Grateful Dead song at first, but one of my songs, you can't play the artists. So I had to pick a third song. So I thought okay, I'm going to pick a Grateful Dead song because that really is part of my being.

Aaron Gobler:

We'll include that song, that's the end of your list, that song. Yeah, so we'll finish up with that. And I just let my listeners know ahead of time that this is not like a 15- or 20-minute song by the Grateful Dead, it does fit in with the time that time format of of the show. And but Jen, I want to thank you for proving that if we put our minds to it, we can come up with more than one list of three meaningful songs. And that perhaps on Episode 33, you'll, you'll have another list. I'd also like to mention to our listeners that I'd be glad to help you come up with your list of three songs if you're you got some kind of writer's block or if you're stumped in trying to make that list. So this time around, you chose these three gems, "Our House" by Crosby, Stills Nash and Young from 1970, "When Smokey Sings" by the group ABC from 1987, and the Grateful Dead song "Stagger Lee" from 1978. So these songs are from several years ago, and I'm eager for both of us to listen to these songs and I'm interested in knowing why each of them is meaningful to you. So first, let's take a listen to "Our House" by Crosby, Stills Nash and Young.

Aaron Gobler.:

Jen, there are so many memorable CSNY songs. I'm pretty certain this one's the most famous. Is that why you chose to include it?

Jen Lapin:

No. Okay, so clearly, I am a hippie chick, I'm a Deadhead and all and I do like classic rock and jam bands and all that. But the first time I heard Crosby, Stills Nash, and Young was at camp, an overnight camp, when I was 14 years-old. And one of my bunkmates had this album and played this particular song on repeat, which back then was hard, because it was a cassette. So she played it and then have to rewind it and play it again. And I just love that song. I also love some other songs. But that song, really just the melody in the song and the singing, it was just lovely. So I was hooked. And I went out, I got the album, I've loved it ever since. And then if you fast-forward in my life to 2002, and my daughter was born, you know, everyone thinks lullabies to their kids. Well, I can't sing. I have a terrible voice. So I figured that the best lullabies I could sing would be classic rock songs. Soft, melodious tone. So this was one of the songs that I sang. And this is now with my daughter, our song because she also knows all the words because I sang it to her for years. And as an aside, she literally just FaceTimed me as the song was on. And I told her I couldn't talk because I was listening to the song and talking to you about it. And she smiled and was understanding sort of, I just, I love this song. And she loves the song. Better than the other lullaby that I chose for her, which was "Sugar Magnolia" by the Grateful Dead. And I think the reason she liked the song better was because it mentioned cats, and because she's allergic to cats, we can't have cats. But she loves cats, so.

Aaron Gobler:

So maybe she couldn't have them in the yard, maybe?

Jen Lapin:

She couldn't have them in the yard. No.

Aaron Gobler:

Okay. She just called you out of the blue. Had you planned to speak with her?

Jen Lapin:

No.

Aaron Gobler:

So perhaps she felt some kind of energy in the universe from the song being played?

Jen Lapin:

Perhaps? Perhaps, perhaps? Yeah, so I love that song. And I've seen Crosby, Stills and Nash in concert. Way back. I just love the way they harmonize together. Yeah, not so much anymore. They've broken up and they don't talk.

Aaron Gobler:

Yeah, you know, I, I've heard this song so many times, like, so, so many times in my life. And one one thing about doing this format, or doing the radio show, is that I'm really listening to some songs. And in the case of the show, really listening with the guests to the song, and really just concentrating on the song, which is not something we always do when we're just kind of listening passively. And notice like how the song starts out, very subtle and simple. And then after the whole la la part, they return to saying, the singing, you know, our house, but this time, there's more energy or they've made it louder in the in the production or something. And then it goes back down to the beginning part. So it's almost like a celebration. It really is a beautiful song.

Jen Lapin:

It's a beautiful song. And it was Graham Nash was living with Joni Mitchell. And it was written about their house. And she had just bought a vase at a... and he wrote the song. I mean, that was, that's the story behind the song, as he tells it. And that in itself is just, it's just a, it's just a nice song. I just really like it.

Aaron Gobler:

I just imagine that maybe she put up a parking lot next to the house.

Jen Lapin:

Well she paved it.

Aaron Gobler:

Yeah. The next one on your list is a song. It's a little more current from, well, if you call 1987 current. Because, you know, people in our age group, we think that the 80s were just a few years ago, but they were like, you know, quite a while ago.

Jen Lapin:

Almost 40 years.

Aaron Gobler:

Yeah, that's okay. You don't have to go that that technical, but yeah. The next song is "When Smokey Sings" by ABC. And so let's give that a listen. I'm sure I'm going to enjoy hearing that again. And then we'll talk about it on the other side.

Aaron Gobler.:

Jen, I really like this song. And I've been listening to it for forever, or at least since it came out of course. You know, the band cleverly weaves Motown rhythms and styles into the tune especially Smokey Robinson and The Miracles "Tears of a Clown". You can hear that running through the song. What made you include this song on your list?

Jen Lapin:

Oh, ABC came out sometime in the 80s when I was in college, and I think what really drew me to this song was that it was, quote unquote, alternative. But it still had this old-school Motown vibe. I love Motown. And it had this vibe, not just in its content with the mentions of Marvin Gaye and Luther and, obviously, Smokey. But in its sound, it was alternative. But as you mentioned, it woven the riff from "Tears of a Clown". And it just had this, this this Motown's vibe, and I really love, and so this is one of those songs that for me, never gets old. And whenever I hear it, I smile, I start to sing along, I start to move. We're in a pandemic, and we were on lockdown for so long, one of the things that I did was I would take walks in my neighborhood, and I was listening to my, my playlist. And if you've ever seen me walking around my neighborhood, some of my neighbors can attest, I will suddenly start dancing. And it looks like I'm kind of moving weird because you can't hear it. But I'm doing that because this particular song is probably playing on my playlist. I wonder if they ever asked Smokey Robinson if he heard it? I'm sure they did. And I'm sure sometime in 1987 someone asked him.

Aaron Gobler:

Yeah, that is a good question. I think the song I was listening to a song that was very popular in the late ... if you don't listen to the lyrics super closely, it's really just an homage and tribute to Smokey Robinson. But as again, I'm listening as I mentioned a few minutes ago, and I'm listening to the songs really more carefully. I'm trying to understand the narrative of the song. And he you know, he's talking about how Smokey is so smooth, and you know, talking about holding your, your loved one tight or 70s, early 80s. Like you went rollerskating at Radnor Rolls your partner tight. But then at the end, he starts talking about throwing back the ring or something. I don't know, though, and it was there and I'm listening to it and going oh my it sounds like maybe there's just some kind of a tiff at the end there. I don't know, I have to do some research on that. But God, that is a terrible song. (Laughter) it is also It just underscores for me how we can listen to so many songs that just not really pay attention to the exact lyrics of them. But I am wondering what's going on in that. Yeah. (Laughter)

Jen Lapin:

It is completely misogynistic and this is not being played on the radio ever, ever again.

Aaron Gobler:

I think someone had compiled a list of all the Beatle songs where they are pretty misogynistic, you know? And...

Jen Lapin:

Yeah, I mean, it's just Yeah. Bad. Had a good beat, though.

Aaron Gobler:

Yeah, that's the thing. Oh well it has a good beat. Yeah, just I'm not paying attention.

Jen Lapin:

It has a good beat but, boy, let's not pay attention to the lyrics too much.

Aaron Gobler:

Yeah, so now I have to go back and like read the actual lyrics and see if I can figure out what exactly is going on there. That it's is not just an homage. It's more of a story too so I'll have to go check that out. So speaking of stories, or songs as a story,

Jen Lapin:

Yeah. one of the bands that is really terrific at this. And Jerry Garcia has written so many songs that are a story. And your third song is "Stagger Lee", performed by the Grateful Dead, and I've chosen a live version of it because I just associate Grateful Dead with live, although they did come out with actual vinyl albums. And this song tells a story. So we'll

Aaron Gobler.:

Jen, I'll admit, I only know a handful of Dead songs and don't laugh. I mean, don't judge me, please. I really give it a listen. And then I'm very eager to hear what you have enjoy "Truckin'" and also don't judge me on that, that's like a superhit of theirs. But I wasn't familiar with this particular song. What inspired you to include this one in your list? to say about it.

Jen Lapin:

Okay, first I say no judgment.

Aaron Gobler:

Okay.

Jen Lapin:

At least you didn't say in "Touch of Grey", which was one of their only Top 40 in the late 80s which was funny because it was a much older song. It just happened to be on an album that was released. So this song like I said, I was inspired to put a Grateful Dead song on here. But this one is not one you would expect. It's a great song. It's one of my favorite songs that they do both live and in the studio. And as you play the live version, you know, the Grateful Dead are known as a jam band. They're really not known for their studio work. They're known more for their live performances. But the reason that I love this song is because it's a retelling of a story that really happened. Sort of the the story of Stagger Lee, who was actually Lee "Stag" Sheldon and Billy Lyons, Lee Sheldon really did shoot Billy Lyons over his Stetson hat but it happened in 1895 not in 1948 on Christmas Eve, as the Dead version goes, but the story of Lee "Stag" Sheldon who was Stagolee, now Stagger Lee, as time went on, has grown to mythic proportions. And every rendition of, or every telling of the story, which started with an original song in 1923 is just different enough that it sounds like a new song and a different a slightly different story. And the Grateful Dead version tells it from the viewpoint of Delia, who is and he they call him Billy DeLions, not Billy Lyons, but his wife slash girlfriend, partner, however, and how she is looking for justice for her, the the murder of her, the love of her life, and it just shows, you know, she took matters into her own hands, and she went out and she, I'm gonna say it, you can edit it but she shot him in the balls and had him all hauled off to City Hall. She's just a badass, you know, and, and that's, that's, that's a reason I like it. And one of the reasons I like this song also is because it tells this story from a woman's point of view. I mean, that's, you know, it's not just about Stagger Lee shooting him, it's about this woman, avenging the death of her lover, when the basically the sheriff wouldn't do anything. So it's like, you don't want to do it, give me your gun, I'll go out and do it myself. Not that I condone vigilante justice, but in this particular song, I kind of do.

Aaron Gobler:

Okay. And so are you saying that this story is retold with different lyrics and music by other artists? Right? It's not like someone's just doing...

Jen Lapin:

Oh, absolutely.

Aaron Gobler:

Oh, okay.

Jen Lapin:

I mean, I think Ike and Tina Turner did a version. I'm not sure what it was called. James Brown, Wilson Pickett, Taj Mahal.

Aaron Gobler:

Really?

Jen Lapin:

This is a story that has been retold over and over and over again, in many different ways in many different incarnations.

Aaron Gobler:

Wow, I was not even familiar with the story. But the story is, obviously super inspirational for all these different artists who ... to craft their own versions or tellings of it. Yeah. Wow. That's educational for me. And this song is from '78. So is this like an example where this would be a song you would first hear in concert, in a live show, and then you'd hear it on a studio album, or vice versa? Educate me on on the process for Grateful Dead, because the traditional method, usually, but a band puts out a full studio album, and then they go and they support it on tour. But the Grateful Dead sounds like they're much more live concert focused.

Jen Lapin:

So the beauty of the Grateful Dead in my opinion, and

Aaron Gobler:

Okay. this is my experience, and every deadhead has a different experience. But my experience is that I was introduced to the Dead in high school. And I was given a live tape because the Grateful Dead, allow their concerts to be taped. Their theory is they put it out there. And once it's out there, they're

Jen Lapin:

So, so I think it's not like you go out and you buy done with it, and the fans can have it. So there is a taper section at every concert or, you know, there still is, but back in the day, it was it was even more important because there was no internet, this was how you traded you know, you did tape trading. So someone gave me a live tape. And I listened to it and was, you know, brought into it. And then I listened to American Beauty, which is a studio album which has beautiful songs on it like "Box of Rain" and "Attics of My Life". And also, you know, more, quote, unquote, popular hits like "Sugar Magnolia", and things to introduce you. So, and then I went to a concert. Now, in the 80s, when I was in college, I took my friends to their first Dead show after they had heard some live music. I also took some friends to their first Dead show without them knowing anything except who the Grateful Dead were. And I will say that some of them became bigger deadheads than me. a studio album and you listen to it and you say, Oh, I'm gonna go to this concert. I think in my experience, it was I heard a live show, even though I wasn't physically there. And then I bought the studio album. And then I went to a concert, mostly because I was too young my mother thought to go to a Grateful Dead concert by myself when I was 14, which I probably was.

Aaron Gobler:

Yeah, I, even though I don't know a lot of their music, I am aware that especially during a time where you were not allowed to bring any kind of recording devices before iPhones or even cell phones. When you went to a concert, you know, I remember going to concerts and then being patted down and you know, there was a big sign saying no photographs, no recording devices, whatever, and that they were very well known for encouraging people to record.

Jen Lapin:

But only in the taper section, you had to have a taper ticket. Interesting, though they didn't they didn't want everybody to have microphones and taping you had to have a taper ticket. The people had microphone stands and, and, and some serious equipment.

Aaron Gobler:

Wow, okay, okay.

Jen Lapin:

So some of them are great. You know, the ones I have, I only have a couple, are because I, you know, I didn't have anybody to trade with because I didn't record anything. But but you can get them there were ways to get them back then. Yeah. And I had friends that had, yeah, hundreds of them.

Aaron Gobler:

I mean, it's a very interesting model, because live concerts were really the main thing for them, whereas a lot of artists just want to sell a lot of albums. I know, like even the the most recent concert you had been to was probably just, and I've seen some videos, just the number of people and, you know, they're just an enormous, enormous amount. So it's a very interesting marketing technique. Especially...

Jen Lapin:

They toured all the time.

Aaron Gobler:

Right.

Jen Lapin:

Yeah, that's, that's what they did. And they wouldn't play just one show, they would do a string of shows like they would do two, three shows a night, and every show was different. So it wasn't like a Madonna show where you would see the same, you know, it's a rehearsed thing and it's the same show every night with the same songs. You know, the Dead would come to Philadelphia for two or three nights. And I would go all three nights or all two nights, and it would be a different show each night.

Aaron Gobler:

Yeah.

Jen Lapin:

So I mean, that's, you know, and then people would find, like, I followed them up and down the East Coast once. And that was fun. You know, it was it was a different time. And then towards the end right before Jerry died, it got a little weird. Got a little... but it's back to where it was with with the new incarnation Dead & Company. John Mayer playing the Jerry Garcia parts. He's actually very talented.

Aaron Gobler:

Yeah, he is.

Jen Lapin:

I really I enjoy those shows. But if you like the Dead you like the Dead if you don't like the Dead, you don't like the Dead? It's, it's kind of like you get it. It's interesting that given where you live that you're not inundated with this stuff all the time.

Aaron Gobler:

Well, I'm in Berkeley, so there's definitely, I actually know some people who are really officially hippies. But I would say I've been to Haight/Ashbury. Of course, that's the epicenter of the hippie culture in San Francisco. And so there is a Ben and Jerry's ice cream store at that corner. There was 15 or 16 years ago, so I don't know why I'm ... I guess I'm thinking about Jerry Garcia or Cherry Garcia ice cream. Yeah.

Jen Lapin:

And that's the funny thing. I hate that ice cream. But people buy it for me all the time. And I don't particularly I don't I don't dislike the band Phish. But I love Phish Food, the ice cream. So it's, it's, you know, there's no correlation.

Aaron Gobler:

And the group Phish? I don't know any of their songs. But were they basically just picking up from the style of the Dead? Are they...

Jen Lapin:

Yeah, they're a jam band much. And, and when I was saying like, in '95, before Jerry died when people were younger, younger people were, you know, doing the same kind of thing with Phish. And they were going on tour. And they were, because they did the same thing. They didn't play the same show twice. And when the Grateful Dead reunited for their 50th anniversary in Chicago, the lead singer of Phish filled in for Jerry Garcia. You know, he was very good. He's a he's a great guitarist, but but they played a similar style. It's not the it's obviously not the same song.

Aaron Gobler:

So Jen, is there anything else you'd like to share about your selections that we haven't talked about?

Jen Lapin:

Just that this was a lot of fun for me to get to pick three more songs. And as we talked, you know, I did pick one song by an artist who's, who doesn't license their music to either of the catalogs that you have access to. And that was a bummer.

Aaron Gobler:

Yeah. But you can name that artist, you can name them.

Jen Lapin:

Am I allowed to say that?

Aaron Gobler:

Oh, you can. I just can't I just can't include their music. But you can say whatever you want. You could sing or hum one of their tunes. I think that's fine.

Jen Lapin:

So the song I wanted to play was "Raspberry Beret" by Prince but... Prince is, I'm assuming that Prince himself probably didn't allow the licensing either. But his estate doesn't allow the licensing of his music for this kind of thing. So that was a bummer. So but then I got to talk about the Grateful Dead. So maybe everything happens for a reason and that was good. It's fun for me to be able to delve into my, the music that I listen to and think about it on a more critical level rather than Oh, I like that song. You know, especially when I'm picking them. I mean, I to be honest with you. I was going to pick a Justin Timberlake song too. And I got I don't know if I have anything intelligent to say about Justin Timberlake, other than I really like this song.

Aaron Gobler:

Is that the song from Trolls?

Jen Lapin:

Yes! I love that song!

Aaron Gobler:

Is that the one? Okay? "Can't Fight the Feeling"

Jen Lapin:

"Can't Fight the Feeling"

Aaron Gobler:

Yeah, that's boppy.

Jen Lapin:

That's another song that when I'm walking I dance and people look at me funny. I don't care.

Aaron Gobler:

Okay, well that can be... start making your list for episode 33. And, um...

Jen Lapin:

I'm gonna get a theme. I think the next one I should have a theme. Like and I should I should pick three songs that fit that theme.

Aaron Gobler:

Yeah.

Jen Lapin:

So yeah, I know I know if if you reach out to another one of our classmates, she has a thing that she's ready to do.

Aaron Gobler:

Okay. Is this a classmate that I've already had on as a guest?

Jen Lapin:

Yes, yes.

Aaron Gobler:

Oh, okay. Yeah. Well, I mean, I...

Jen Lapin:

And she promises no Billy Joel this time.

Aaron Gobler:

Okay. Yeah, I know you're talking about. No, I'm really fine like, like, I know, you actually asked me if you could do another three. So I'm not planning on trying to cajole all previous guests to reappear, but it's certainly I will welcome for them. I mean, if you said, Well, I want to be on episodes, you know, 24, 25 or 26. Because I have nine songs. I might, I might not want to go along with that. But I'm fine with bringing people back.

Jen Lapin:

I wanted a do over. I wanted to be able to like...

Aaron Gobler:

But you're not embarrassed about episode 11, right? Like, I can keep it in the show?

Jen Lapin:

Oh, not at all. I think they were great. I picked good songs, I liked the songs that I picked, I just realized that I picked them quickly. Like I didn't really give it a lot of thought. And I wanted to give it a give it more thought.

Aaron Gobler:

I relisten to the shows when I take walks. And I think this this shows, you know, it does hold up on its own and even as the first or kind of experimental version. I believe there's a Russian expression that's translated to "you always throw out the first pancake".

Jen Lapin:

Yeah, exactly.

Aaron Gobler:

And but this one we kept this was a good pancake.

Jen Lapin:

Yeah, that's good.

Aaron Gobler:

Yeah, lots of lots of good pancakes. We got a big stack of pancakes by now. So I want to thank you again, Jen. It was great that you took a chance on the first episode of My Three Songs. And it's fun having you back again. And I do welcome you back, back again. And I think this was even more fun than the first time.

Jen Lapin:

It was. We got to talk more. And it was fun. And I really enjoyed it. And I and I will say this, I think you were a great host the first time I think you have evolved as a host and I have enjoyed every episode that I've listened to. I'll admit that I mostly listened to the ones of the people that I know, but I have listened to others. And I plan to go back, I want to listen to your mom's episode. I haven't yet a chance to do that yet. But and your sisters, yeah, I think you're doing a great job. And I hope more people, you know, I'll post it on my Facebook page. And not that I have all that many friends. But hopefully, someone will reach out and say, Yeah, I want to do it too.

Aaron Gobler:

So thank you again, Jen. And to my listeners, if you want to be part of the show, start by going to our website, Aaron's Radio dot show, and clicking on the My Three Songs button on the homepage. You can also sign up for the mailing list so you'll know immediately when a new episode is available. And I do send out an email within a few moments of it being available so you really will know.

Aaron Gobler.:

And so until next time, keep your ears and mind open and let more music into your world.

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