Aaron’s Radio Show

Episode 30

My Three Songs with Dan Kaplow

 

Notes

Episode Notes

EPISODE 30 – My Three Songs with Dan Kaplow:  Welcome, everyone, to Episode 30. This is the twentieth 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. Lonely Boy – Andrew Gold (1977)
  2. Did It In A Minute – Daryl Hall & John Oates (1982)
  3. Punk Sandwich – Dixie Dregs (1979)

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 30. 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 Dan Kaplow. Dan is another friend from my high school graduating class. He's a television and film producer with at least 43 credits to his name, including the Netflix miniseries "The Haunting of Hill House", and the forthcoming NBC/Universal "Joe Exotic" TV series starring Kate McKinnon. Dan, thank you so much for being a guest today. What inspired you to be on the show?

Dan Kaplow:

Thank you for inviting me to the show. I love this format. First of all, a little trip down memory lane, hearing some of my favorite songs and then discussing them and discussing life I guess in general. Sounds like a nice hour for me.

Aaron Gobler:

Great. So, Dan, before we get started, can you tell me how music fits into your life? Like do you seek it out? Is it usually in the foreground or the background of each day?

Dan Kaplow:

Okay, music is a dominating force in my life. My father was a classical musician and conductor composer. My mother taught classical music and strings to elementary students for about 40 years in the Philadelphia school system. My brothers all played instruments. I played an instrument; I was a percussionist. I play piano; I compose music. And to this day, music is a huge part of my life. In the television and film world, you know, music is such a big part of the composition of a scene. So I'm very involved with picking the composer picking the source music. I love working with artists. I love music, I try to go to see as many classical concerts and ballet and live concerts and rock and roll and jazz and as I can.

Aaron Gobler:

When you started your career, was it music-focused originally? What was your original plan? And we all have plans after high school and college that don't end up the way we maybe we expected; maybe in a much better way or whatever. So tell me what was your plan for your career?

Dan Kaplow:

That's a funny question. So in high school, I was very involved with all the all the music performances. And I was, you know, in the orchestra, the band, the Jazz Band, the show band, the marching band. I was very involved with all all of those things. And, you know, secretly I wanted to be a rock star; I love the rock star life, I loved music, I love performing. But that didn't pan out for me. I didn't really pursue it. Maybe because I was scared, maybe I didn't think I was good enough. There was lots of reasons that I didn't pursue it. So I sort of changed my focus to producing and learning about the entertainment business, which music is a huge part of that. I just didn't pursue the Rock and Roll aspect of it all.

Aaron Gobler:

Was music, then . ... pardon the pun... instrumental in you finding your path on television and film production in general?

Dan Kaplow:

It certainly was a part of it; it certainly it wasn't the driving force. The driving force for me was I just love show business. I love movies. I love television. I loved watching it. I wanted to explore what that really meant. And I went to Syracuse University and studied it; didn't really learn a lot. I didn't really learn anything about the entertainment business really until I arrived in Los Angeles in the late 80s. And so music was always sort of in the background for me. But as I progressed in my career and started producing and, and learning more about how everything works, music has certainly come to the forefront. You can't have a great scene without music, elevating a scene, or it's just too dry. I learned a lot about music. I've worked with a lot of great musicians. And I just love it. It's you know, it's such a big part of my life.

Aaron Gobler:

Do you feel that's something that you bring as a special skill or technique to your work that other producers may not be as engrossed or informed about?

Dan Kaplow:

Do you mean like musically?

Aaron Gobler:

Yes. So we all have unique skills or we all have special areas or passions. And most certainly, I totally agree with you ... when you're watching something in a movie or television, the music can be just as important as as the script in terms of getting you to feel a certain way. And that do you feel like you're ... you have an innate or natural thing that you bring to your production?

Dan Kaplow:

Yeah, that's, that's a really great point, Aaron, because music has the ability to move me emotionally. And not many things can do that. So you know, your relationships can do that. I think music can do that. I'll give you a great example. I just recently saw "West Side Story", which is one of my favorite movies of all time, and it's one of the greatest scores ever written. And the new version didn't didn't move me emotionally. Which was very disappointing. Because I love Steven Spielberg, I'm, you know, in California, because in part of Steve, by Steven Spielberg, and then I saw a movie the other day called Tick, Tick, Boom; which is the story of Jonathan Larson, who wrote "Rent", and that movie moved me musically, and was incredible. So music has that power, it can do that. And I think because I grew up with classical music, I grew up in the ballet world, I grew up with emotionally-charged music from the masters, that sort of informs a little bit of how I operate today. And I always look ... a lot of times when I'm doing something creatively, I'll put some classical music to it in my head. And that that'll help me understand the scene a little bit better. And I try to influence studios, or some of my producing partners to do the same, as opposed to just going for oh, let's go for Rock and Roll music here, or let's go for something that's a little bit more traditional, like no, take a look at some of the classical music and see if it helps you emotionally.

Aaron Gobler:

Mm hmm. I also, in terms of the power of music, and this is something that I've talked about on this show that the guests have often brought up, is how a song can take them back to a particular place in time. And I think about in film and television, you know, establishing shots or showing a visual to get somebody to get an idea in their mind as to where something is. But I feel like music is so much more powerful, that you just place a song, or part of a song, or a style of music over your visual production, that it can bring the person immediately to where you want them to be. Is that an effective mechanism?

Dan Kaplow:

Yeah, yeah. And that's the goal, because you want music to bring you to that place you want the whole, the it all works in concert, the picture, the directing, the acting performance, the music, it all works in concert, to take you to that emotional level. And to make you kind of disappear into the story, which is very, very difficult to do. But when it happens, it's like magic. And music really can do that. It can help you. It elevates, I always say the music elevates a scene. It's not the only thing if you if you take all the tracks out, you're just listening to music. It's beautiful. Sure, but you need everything to work together for it to really have that experience for you. And yeah, I mean, the three songs that I picked are certainly songs that take me back they have meaning for me. And there's they're very, there's lots of depth to the three songs and and lots of nuance that we can talk about when we listen to them.

Aaron Gobler:

Right? Well let's jump into the songs. The songs you chose were "Lonely Boy" by Andrew Gold from 1977; "Did It In a Minute" by Hall & Oates from 1982; and "Punk Sandwich" by the Dixie Dregs from 1979. I noticed all these three songs came out during our middle school in high school years. So there may be some theme there. I'm eager for us both to listen to these songs together. And I'm interested in knowing why each of them is meaningful to you. And so let's first take a listen to "Lonely Boy" by Andrew gold. Dan, this is honestly one of my most favorite songs from the later 70s As I was just starting to kind of refine my music tastes at the ripe age of 13. I enjoyed the story from the lyrics, but the music had a unique sound of construction and I think that's what made the song never grow old for me. Why did you choose to include the song?

Dan Kaplow:

Well, first of all, thank you to the late Andrew Gold for writing such gem. The song I mean, the song speaks to me in a lot of different levels. Andrew Gold was Linda Ronstadt's piano player/background singer, and he wrote the song, and I'm just so amazed that people that can write something ... like people call them one-hit wonders and you know, Andrew had a couple hits but this this song is his obviously his most famous. The lyrics really speak to me, you know, when I get sad or I'm feeling lonely, I'll put the song on and just makes me feel better because it's a deep, deep topic. It's an incredibly sad song. But the melody is so light and uplifting, that it contradicts itself. And I love that about this song. I also love the the chorus; the chorus is friendly, and, and you can sing along to it. And it's beautifully constructed. And the other thing is that it's a little bit of an odd song because the beat is not really on the beat. And so it's a little bit offbeat. So it's it's just the whole thing is just a brilliant, brilliant piece of songwriting. It's stuck with me for you know, 40 years now.

Aaron Gobler:

You mentioned one-hit wonders. And we do know that Andrew Gold had some other ... like you said ... some other hits ... this is an international hit for him. And that there's certain recipes for good songs. And we sometimes don't understand, or may never understand, why particular songs are just, you know ... some Beatles songs or other ones just seem timeless and just stay with us. But this certainly is one of those songs that has has made it through the years. And he did everything right in the song. It is it's really a wonderful tune.

Dan Kaplow:

Yeah, and speaking of one-hit wonders, I'm amazed by one-hit wonders, I think there's a movie in there. I don't understand. I'm trying to understand how an artist can come up with such a beautiful song, and then not be able to repeat it. I don't understand it. There's a great group called Sneaker. And they wrote a song called "More Than Just the Two of Us". And if you ever get to listen to that you just listened to it's one of the most beautiful love songs ever written. And they just ... all of their other songs aren't even close. I'm thinking, did someone else write these songs? These one-hit wonders, and they just got a hold of them. Like how is it possible that can write something so amazing. And then never, ever? Repeat it? It's fascinating.

Aaron Gobler:

Yeah. I'm thinking of "Somebody That I Used To Know", by Gotye. Yeah. And that just was like a zeitgeist around that song. And then, yeah, I haven't heard I haven't listened anything else that he did. But uh, yeah, it does make you wonder if maybe these maybe some kind of alien came down ...

Dan Kaplow:

I know. I know. It's fascinating. It's hilarious. And that's why I love one-hit wonders. Especially 80s one-hit wonders, because there's a lot of them. But then the groups go into obscurity and, or they end up touring and they play their one hit people go hear them just to hear the one hit. And they can do that and go on tour for years on a hit.

Aaron Gobler:

Yeah. Yeah. And I but I also think that they're, like you said, like, there's some one-hit wonders that you just you can listen to their whole catalogue. And you're like, yeah, it's okay. But like, where did that one come from?

Dan Kaplow:

That's right.

Aaron Gobler:

But there are others who just don't make it into, you know, they had one song that broke through because it was just pop enough. Or it was just, it fit what people were listening to at that time. And it was a really good version of that kind of sound at the time. But you go back to their catalogue, and you're like, wow, the rest of stuff is really good. But I can see how maybe it wasn't as commercial, but it's still great. So I think some of them, you know, they were with a label that just wasn't ... in my mind ... I'm a big fan of Marshall Crenshaw, like he was when he was on Warner Brothers Records at the same time that Van Halen was, and Warner Brothers was like, just promoting the hell out of Van Halen. And really neglecting him. And he had like, one hit "Someday, Someway" that made it onto the top 40. But you could listen to most of his records, and they're like, just really just solid work. So there's an example where like, you think Marshall Crenshaw? Who's ever heard of him? Well, you know, yeah. So, it's common, it's, you know, it's both, I guess, and then I'm thinking there's some groups that just did a song, or an album and then disbanded. So like, there was one little flash at one time, and that's what you got, you got that one song.

Dan Kaplow:

It's amazing that if you even get that one song, I mean, there's, you're right, there's probably hundreds of groups that have great songs that we've just never heard for one reason or another. Whether it's they never got the promotion, they never got a record deal. And that's true in Hollywood, too. Because there's a lot of scripts that are really great. There's a lot of actors that are really great that you just never would know, because they never had the connection to or the luck to get themselves into the arena.

Aaron Gobler:

Yeah. So part of that could be just could, you know, it could just be serendipity. It could be you'd be the most talented person, but you don't have that opportunity or were not given the opportunity or didn't take an opportunity somebody offered you. You never know. You could be obscure, or you could be super famous.

Dan Kaplow:

It's literally a thin line. It's a very thin line between ... I was looking at. I'm not sure you know what stand-ins are. But stand-ins are people that stand in for the actors while they light the set and the scene. And they're literally five feet away from stardom. But they can't get those five feet. They can't translate to that, because they don't have it. They don't have what it is. So it's the same thing for musicians and music. It's like there's a lot of people that are really great, especially on Broadway, that, for one reason or another, they just can't get the the right audition the timings not right, the show wants a star instead of an unknown. And that's why I thought that movie "Tick, Tick, Boom" was so good. It really like showcased that.

Aaron Gobler:

I'll have to check that out.

Dan Kaplow:

Yeah, it's great.

Aaron Gobler:

And so 180 degrees from that would be a group like Hall & Oates, who have multiple hits. Their catalogue includes a variety of different types of styles. And they kind of adapted to the time for what kind of sound people were listening to. And they did a really wonderful job in their, in their delivery and production. So the Hall & Oates song you chose on your list was "Did It In a Minute" from 1982. So let's take a listen to that, and we'll talk about it on the other side. I just love that. Dan, as as Philadelphians. It's hard not to love hollow notes. And as I mentioned before, they made so many solid pop hits. What inspired you to include this particular song on your list?

Dan Kaplow:

Yeah, I I'm absolutely obsessed with Hall & Oates. I've been that way for 40 years, so obsessed, in fact, I did a show called "Hello Ladies". And we did the main title was a Hall & Oates song and I got to meet them and work with them and kept in touch with with John Oates. And first of all, they go by Daryl Hall and John Oates. They don't go by Hall & Oates, which a lot of people don't know. They are just great Philadelphia musicians, they have this Philadelphia sound, they have the most incredible harmonies. When they sing their choruses. I love the chord, the harmony on the chorus. I picked this song because it's sort of representative of all of their work. It's poppy. It's got a great chorus, incredible harmonies that you can sing to. And they usually open the show with the song and I've seen them a few times. It's just I just love the song and I mean all their songs are good. I could have picked a lot of them. But this one especially just ... it represents sort of their entire body of work and what I love about them, they just have this they have this big band sound you know they use live instruments and their work they have just great use of all the instruments in the song and but you know what they're really known for is their like Simon and Garfunkel, but just the harmonies are incredible. They work so well together.

Aaron Gobler:

Do you feel John Oates is under underestimated or underrated?

Dan Kaplow:

Very underrated. Yep. Very underrated, very underappreciated. And, you know, he's half of the songwriting team he wrote a lot of those songs with with Daryl okay. Yeah. And when you meet him, he's just such a nice guy. They live in Colorado now. And, you know, they still play, they still sound great after all this time. But that song is just, it just gets you going. Like, I can listen to that song. Sometimes I'll put that song on in the morning. If I have an early morning call, and you know, it gets the heart pumping, you start singing to it. And you know, you get ready for your day.

Aaron Gobler:

Do you feel like ... I'm thinking of older songs like Sara Smile and Rich Girl, which were much earlier; many years earlier than this, and they had a much stronger story or feeling to them ... lyrically. Do you feel like a lot of the poppy hits just like this have like throwaway lyrics, or did you get anything lyrically from this particular song?

Dan Kaplow:

No, you hit it right on the head. I mean, they did a

whole bunch of these:

"Kiss On My List", this song, they were told by the record company, we need three-minute hits, and that are poppy. And that's how you're gonna make your money. And that's what they did, because they weren't making a lot of money in the late 70s ... when they had those classics, "She's Gone". And some of those. That's amazing. And so they went poppy in the 80s. And they made a lot of money. And they did ... the tours where everything in the 80s. You know, the big band tours, and that's where they made tons of money. And then you know, in the 90s and early 2000s They went back to sort of their roots, and they did longer songs and they did more nuanced songs. But yeah, this one is just it's it's such a great like hook. You can't you can't not like this song.

Aaron Gobler:

Yeah,you know, we can mock the lyrics on on the 80 songs. The music ... I'm always fascinated when I research certain songs if I'm researching, like "Billie Jean" by Michael Jackson, and that I believe he was inspired by "I Can't Go For That (No Can Do)", which lyrically it has a certain story to it, but it's not like you know what, I really just enjoy the the musicality of that song. And there are other songs that have a "Maneater" sound. There's a lot of other songs that have a similar sound to that. But I hadn't heard that particular sound before. So they definitely were an inspiration not just to general music listeners, but to other musicians.

Dan Kaplow:

Yeah, that's definitely true. I wasn't aware of the Michael Jackson connection. But I think that's, that's awesome. I mean, it makes complete sense to me when you think about it. And yet the 80s ... first of all, the, let's just face it. For me, the 80s were the greatest decade of music in my lifetime. And I love a lot of songs from the 80s. And just the musicality from Hall & Oates is very special. And Daryl has got this show called "Live from Daryl's House" where he played songs. It's so good!

Aaron Gobler:

It's wonderful.

Dan Kaplow:

It's wonderful to listen to, and Daryl still sings really well after all these years. And so does John. And they're great together. And it's they're touring together now again, which is very nice, because they weren't speaking for a while. But now they're touring again. And, and I just love I ... you know, again, I could have picked one of 50 songs from Hall & Oates. And this was just such a great one.

Aaron Gobler:

Yeah. Oh, thank you for for including it, it brings me back to the 80s immediately. And I also want to thank you for including your last song, which is "Punk Sandwich" by the Dixie Dregs. That's from 1979. And I'm excited to listen to it again. And we'll talk about why you chose a song after we give it a listen. Dan, I had never heard the song before. And I want to thank you again for sharing it with me and our listeners. I was trying to think of a way to describe the song to someone who hadn't heard it before. And the best I could come up with was if you combined Emerson, Lake & Palmer with early Doobie Brothers and threw in some Charlie Daniels Band, and then you sped it up. So ...I'm not sure if that description does the song justice, however, but it is incredibly incredible song, especially when you listen to it with with headphones. So I encourage people to do that. So what inspired you to include the song on your list?

Dan Kaplow:

This group is an unknown group. I know this group very well. I've seen them live probably five times. And I absolutely love this group. This group is a mix of classical jazz, rock and roll, Philly music, everything all thrown in to incredible songwriting by Steve Morse, who's the lead guitar player who played with Kansas, he played with a whole bunch of he was a session musician for a while and he created this group called the Dixie Dregs. Some of the finest musicians I've ever heard in my life. And I love great musicianship and this guitar playing. I mean, he's he's a world class guitar player, up there with Pat Metheny, and Dave Grohl, and some of the other ... Eddie Van Halen ... some of the greatest guitar players in the world. He's up there ... and throw in his songwriting ability. I mean, his songs are beautiful. And I encourage everyone to go out and listen to night meets light and some of the other the Dixie Dregs that first two albums. It's incredible, incredible songwriting and musicianship all mixed into one and yeah, there's some Charlie Daniels in there with the the violin playing and just just a wonderful group. And this is one of my favorite songs by them.

Aaron Gobler:

Yeah, I was gonna originally say it was like a seven-course meal. But it's more like a smorgasbord. It's like a smorgasbord for your ears. It really is just a collection of some really wonderful sounds. And they all just flow really well through each other. And just I was so surprised, because when I saw the title of the band and the name of the song, it just had nothing. I had no idea what I was going to be hearing.

Dan Kaplow:

Yeah, most people have never heard of the Dixie Dregs before they may have heard of Steve Morse before. Yeah, um, but when you when you start listening to them and understanding their music, and I hope your listeners do ... you realize what, what did I miss? I mean, this this group is fantastic. I just love them. I could I could listen to punk sandwich. I can listen to a lot of these songs over and over again and they never get old. I keep finding and discovering new things that I never heard before. And listen to the production of it. The mix is incredible. This is first rate stuff.

Aaron Gobler:

Yeah. Do you recall where you were or what time of your life you were in when you first discovered them?

Dan Kaplow:

Yes. So my my friend Lower Merion alumni, Bobby DiLullo introduced me to the Dixie Dregs. And I first listened, listen to them, and I couldn't believe what I was hearing. I'm like, this is incredible guitar work I love. I love great guitar work. And then I started seeking them out, I heard one song, and then I wanted to hear too. And then I heard their album. And then I heard they were performing. And I went to see them. And I actually got to meet Steve Morse and talk to him. I just been following them and following them over the years, and they broken up several times, they've done their own things. And occasionally, they'll do a reunion concert. I just, I just love my wish I could see them again.

Aaron Gobler:

And so was this during high school, that you ...

Dan Kaplow:

This was all like late middle school and early high school and and we were sort of into in high school, we were into eclectic music back then. I loved all different kinds of music. And then you know, again, with my classical background, this kind of music spoke to me because it was Rock and Roll. But it also had elements of jazz and classic, and classics. And so it was like acceptable for me to like this.

Aaron Gobler:

And so the three songs you chose, were all I mentioned earlier, we're all bunched around this, you know, a three year window or a five year window. Does that say anything to you in terms of how you chose your songs? Or maybe you didn't intend that, but do you glean anything from that? Um, no,

Dan Kaplow:

I mean, I was very intentional. The three songs I picked, I tried three different styles of music, but songs that I love, and that had meaning for me. Uh huh. And most of the songs you know, I don't love the music of today. I don't there's some there's some really good music today. But, you know, I keep going back to the 70s and 80s that that for me is the generation of music that yeah, that is just speaks volumes to me and everything I do. So I picked three songs that I thought were different enough, but in a way represented me and yeah, that's why I love them. Great.

Aaron Gobler:

This was a lot of fun. It was like a little walk down memory lane. And, and it was great just discussing how the entertainment industry ... besides music ... incorporates music so, so much and importantly, in how it operates.

Dan Kaplow:

Yeah, thank you, Aaron, this was so great to talk to you. And you know, you have a really vast knowledge of music, and I just enjoyed the flow of conversation and discussing these songs.

Aaron Gobler:

Great. Thank you. 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 our mailing list so you'll know immediately when a new episode is available. You can also find Aaron's Radio Show on your favorite podcast service, but the podcast episodes only include interviews and no licensed music. So until next time, keep your ears and mind open and let more music into your world.

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