TRANSCRIPT Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Stephen Malkmus on the song that changed his life

Singer and co-founder of Pavement Stephen Malkmus tells us about the song that changed his life: Love Will Keep Us Together by Captain and Tenille.

Guests: Stephen Malkmus

Transcript

jesse thorn

It’s Bullseye. I’m Jesse Thorn. Time now for The Song That Changed My Life.

music

“Range Life” by Pavement. [Volume decreases and continues under the dialogue.]

jesse

It’s a chance to talk with great artists about the music that made them who they are today. This week, Steven Malkmus. Steven Malkmus is, of course, the singer and co-founder of Pavement, one of the most beloved and influential modern rock bands ever.

music

[Volume increases.] After the glow, the scene, The stage, the set Talk becomes slow But there's one thing I'll never forget Hey, you gotta pay your dues Before you pay the rent [Volume decreases and continues under the dialogue.]

jesse

The band’s been called one of the great acts of the 1990s. They recorded so many songs that capture that decade perfectly. “Cut Your Hair”, “Range Life”, “Stereo”. [Music fades out.] The band broke up in 1999, and Malkmus has kept on, as prolific as ever, dropping nine records since 2001. [Music fades in.] His latest is called Traditional Techniques. On it, Steven offers his take on folk music. There’s a little bit of Joni Mitchell, a little Loudon Wainwright, maybe some incredible string band, even.

music

“Shadowbanned” by Steven Malkmus. High churn rate, enemy of risk I call dibs on the sax in abandoned jazz land I'm praying… [Volume decreases and continues under the dialogue.]

jesse

When we asked Steven Malkmus about the song that changed his life, he didn’t talk about any of those bands, though. Instead, he threw us kind of a curveball. [Music fades out.] Take it away, Steve.

steven malkmus

My name is Steve Malkmus, and the song that changed my life is “Love Will Keep Us Together” by Captain & Tennille. Captain & Tennille, for most of history, have been—not been known as a particularly hip band. [Music fades in.] I think one of the reasons is a song called “Muskrat Love”.

music

“Muskrat Love” by Captain & Tennille. Singing and Jinging a Jango Floating like the heavens above Looks like Muskrat Love [Volume decreases and continues under the dialogue.]

steven

Which was one of their [laughs]—their hits. And “Muskrat Love”… is a pretty corny song and I can see people looking down upon it. [Music fades out.] But the song that changed my life is “Love Will Keep Us Together”.

music

“Love Will Keep Us Together” by Captain & Tennille. [Volume decreases and continues under the dialogue.]

steven

The first time I heard Captain & Tennille probably was on one of my parent’s cassette tapes. We were more of a cassette tape family, ‘cause we listened to music more when we were traveling on ski trips or playing dominoes, though, in the house. I’m imagining that’s when I heard it first. I was probably eight years old. Something like that.

music

[Volume increases.] 'Cause I really love you, stop I'll be thinking of you Look in my heart and let love keep us together [Volume decreases and continues under the dialogue.]

steven

I think, yeah. Captain & Tennille—I think it appealed to a young person. The Captain, he wore these red suits and red shirts and his hat and kind of totally deadpan, never talk. And it didn’t look too different than Captain Kangaroo or The Banana Splits. I used to imitate him a lot. I would play—I would put on a captain’s hat and imitate playing piano in the Hang Ten pajamas.

music

[Volume increases.] … stop (stop) I'll be thinking of you (thinking of you) Look in my heart and let love keep us together [Volume decreases and continues under the dialogue then fades out.]

steven

Uh, do you mind—? I wanna reacquaint myself with visuals about Captain & Tennille. So, I’m gonna look on my—on the phone and watch this YouTube clip of them playing it live. [Garbled audio of cheering from Steven’s phone speaker.]

music

“Love Will Keep Us Together” by Captain & Tennille played live. The audio quality is tinny and muddled. Love Love will keep us together Think of me babe, whenever [Volume decreases and continues under the dialogue.]

steven

Now we’re watching—I’m watching Captain & Tennille on a TV show of some sort. Doesn’t say too much about where they’re playing. It has a classic ‘70s backdrop. Tennille’s got a really awesome gold necklace on. She’s hamming it up like she always does, little bit. She always kind of acted out the songs…

music

[Volume increases.] Tennille: [Singing.]together. Steven: [Singing along.] Whatever. [Volume decreases and continues under the dialogue.]

steven

They were just in a power trio mode, so both of them—one thing that’s amazing about this television performance is that it’s actually live. Playing it a little faster and they’re doing something that I don’t know how to do, which is play two keyboards with their hands raised parallel to each other. Sound also like the Captain might be playing a… [smacks lips] that’s—he’s a little—dabbling with the ARP there. The Captain’s dabbling with some modern keyboards—the kind of keyboards that bands like Daft Punk and Air just—their hearts go aflutter when they hear it.

music

[Volume increases.] Ba-ba-ba-ba Ba-ba-ba-ba [Volume decreases and continues under the dialogue.]

steven

There he goes. You know, it’s almost got the sound of Peter Frampton’s voice—“I Want You”.

music

[Volume increases.] You better stop 'Cause I really love you, stop (stop) I'll be thinking of you (thinking of you) Look in my heart and let love… [Volume decreases and continues under the dialogue.]

steven

I don’t know. I just—that song is—it’s a very sweet song, too. It has a nice message about growing old together. You know, when you—everybody’s going to eventually—we’re gonna decay a little bit, but I’ll still be there with you and we can grow old together.

music

[Volume increases.] Da-da-da-da It’s a decade to spare Da-da-da-da [Scattered applause.] [Volume decreases and continues under the dialogue then fades out.]

steven

Look, they’re having some fun there at the end. Do you that clapping? I don’t mind that at the end of a song, when you kind of add some simulated mirth to the [chuckles]—to the track. Okay. Thank you!

jesse

Thank you, Steve! That was Steven Malkmus on the song that changed his life: “Love Will Keep Us Together” by Captain & Tennille. [Music fades in.] Steven Malkmus’s latest album, Traditional Techniques, is out now. Let’s play another song from it. This one’s called “The Greatest Own in Legal History”. Yes, that is the real title.

music

“The Greatest Own in Legal History” from the album Traditional Techniques by Steven Malkmus. Faces of hegemony, if you really want to bum out I got spreadsheets on that stuff Juvie it is jammed There's someone here who gives a damn, it's me The greatest own in legal history [Music ends.]

music

Upbeat, thumpy music.

jesse

That’s the end of another episode of Bullseye. Bullseye is produced out of the homes of me and the staff of Maximum Fun, in and around greater Los Angeles, California—a city which has turned orange. Uh, and burns your lungs when you go out of doors. My understanding from the New York Times Wirecutter is that a pretty decent substitute for an air purifier, if you haven’t got one, is to just take an HVAC filter and tape it to a box fan. So, that’s our recommendation to anybody who doesn’t have an air purifier, right now, here on the West Coast. Our show is produced by speaking into microphones. Our producer is Kevin Ferguson. Jesus Ambrosio and Jordan Kauwling are our associate producers. We get help from Casey O’Brien. Our interstitial music is by Dan Wally, also known as DJW. Our theme song is by the great band, The Go! Team. Thanks to them and their label, Memphis Industries, for letting us use it. You can also keep up with the show on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Just search for Bullseye with Jesse Thorn. And I think that’s about it. Just remember: all great radio hosts have a signature sign-off.

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Speaker: Bullseye with Jesse Thorn is a production of MaximumFun.org and is distributed by NPR. [Music fades out.]

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Bullseye is a celebration of the best of arts and culture in public radio form. Host Jesse Thorn sifts the wheat from the chaff to bring you in-depth interviews with the most revered and revolutionary minds in our culture.

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