TRANSCRIPT Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: The Song That Changed My Life: Lisa Loeb

Lisa Loeb does it all. She is a Grammy-winning musician, has appeared in movies, hosted cooking and entertainment shows and even has her own line of glasses. Most recently, Lisa is contributing her talents to the podcast world and is starring in the new show Power Trip. When we asked her about the song that changed her life, she gave it a lot of thought. She narrowed down her options from dozens and dozens of massively important tunes to arrive at a classic track – Chuck E’s in Love from the legendary Rickie Lee Jones.

Guests: Lisa Loeb

Transcript

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Gentle, trilling music with a steady drumbeat plays under the dialogue.

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

jesse thorn

From MaximumFun.org and NPR, it’s Bullseye.

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“Huddle Formation” from the album Thunder, Lightning, Strike by The Go! Team. A fast, upbeat, peppy song. Music plays as Jesse speaks, then fades out.

jesse

Time now for The Song That Changed My Life, a chance for musicians and artists to tell us about the song that made them who they are. Joining us today is a musician who wrote a song that I’m willing to bet changed the lives of more than a few of our listeners.

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“Stay” from the album Reality Bites by Lisa Loeb. You say I only hear what I want to And you say I talk so all the time, so And I thought what I felt was simple And I thought that I don’t belong [Volume decreases and continues under the dialogue.]

jesse

Yes, that’s right. It’s Lisa Loeb! Creator of one of the biggest hits of the ’90s, “Stay”.

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[Volume increases.] Now I know that I did something wrong ‘Cause I missed you Yeah, I missed you [Volume decreases and continues under the dialogue then fades out.]

jesse

That song kicked off Lisa’s career. She followed it with a handful of hit singles, hit albums, even a Grammy winning children’s record.

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“Wiggle” from the album Feel What U Feel by Lisa Loeb. You can shimmy, you can wiggle You can shake until you giggle You can sway from side to side You can shimmy, you can wiggle You can shake until you giggle You can sway from side to side Lemme see you wiggle Lemme see you wiggle [Volume decreases and continues under the dialogue then fades out.]

jesse

Lisa Loeb has also hosted cooking shows, entertainment shows, has appeared in movies like House on Haunted Hill and Hot Tub Time Machine 2. She has her own coffee line, her own line of eyewear. And of course, she has her own line of eyewear. And now, Lisa Loeb is contributing her talents to the podcast world. She’s starring in the new show, Power Trip. It’s a bonkers sounding fiction podcast about black market organ transplants, conspiracies, and the real-world consequences of giving humans superpowers. The show also stars Tatiana Maslany as Jane, one of the superpowered people. Lisa Loeb plays her mom, who knows about the superpowers but is also, you know, a mom.

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Music: Upbeat, whimsical music. Jane (Power Trip): Oh, sorry! I’ve got plans this weekend. Mom: Well, wait a minute. What plans? Jane: Uh, the kind where I’m an adult and don’t have to tell my mommy about them? Mom: It sure is loud there. Oh, are you on a date? Jane: I am, actually. I’m just waiting for him. Mom: Well, let me tell you one thing. Don’t wait longer than 15 minutes. Well, 20 if he’s a doctor. Jane: Okay, thanks, Mom. He’s here. I gotta go. Mom: But—well, what about—? [Jane hangs up.]

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jesse

When we asked Lisa Loeb about the song that changed her life, she gave it a lot of thought and she narrowed down her options from dozens and dozens of massively important tunes to arrive at what I think we can all agree is an absolute banger, “Chuck E’s In Love” by the legendary Rickie Lee Jones. Here’s Lisa.

lisa loeb

The first time I heard “Chuck E’s In Love” by Rickie Lee Jones was probably in Dallas in 1979. Probably around when it came out onto the radio in April. Oh my gosh, I could totally imagine sitting in the backseat of the station wagon. You know, the ones with the fake wood paneling? I’m wearing my Levitt blue jeans with appliques of like a tube of lipstick on the back pocket or maybe rainbow suspenders, like Mork & Mindy. And then out of nowhere—

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“Chuck E’s in Love” from the album Rickie Lee Jones by Rickie Lee Jones. [Volume decreases and continues under the dialogue.]

lisa

[Singing along with the guitar.] Ba, ba, baaaay-do-dee, mm-bam. I mean, come on! This is a classic! It stops you in your tracks.

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[Volume increases.] How come he don’t come and PLP with me Down at the meter… [Volume decreases and continues under the dialogue.]

lisa

Ah! And her voice! So much attitude and yet kind of laid back at the same time.

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[Volume increases.] … hang that sign on the door? We call and we call “How come?” We say Hey, what could make a boy behave this way? So, he has learnt all of the lines now And every time… [Volume decreases and continues under the dialogue.]

lisa

Ah, the storytelling. It just takes me somewhere else. Away from those popular TV shows at the time and into some kind of big city. Like, it feels like New York City or Los Angeles in the summer.

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[Volume increases.] Well, this ain’t healthy, it is some kind of clean That means Chuck E’s in love Chuck E’s in love [Volume decreases and continues under the dialogue then fades out.]

lisa

When I first heard this song, I feel like there was a lot of disco that I really, really loved. Like, “Bad Girls” and “Hot Stuff” by Donna Summer.

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“Hot Stuff” from the album Hot Stuff by Donna Summer. I want some hot stuff, baby, this evening Gotta have some hot stuff Gotta have some love tonight Hot stuff [Volume decreases and continues under the dialogue then fades out.]

lisa

Blondie, “Knock on Wood” by Gloria Gaynor. “Ring My Bell, I Need It” by Anita Ward. You know, there was a lot of really great disco on the radio that was on that ’70s kind of pop radio. And so, to hear the groove of “Chuck E’s in Love” come on. [The music starts, and Lisa sings the opening bars along with it.] Bum, ba-do-ba-da-bum. Baaaaa. Do you hear the instrumentation and the space and the rhythm and the groove? And then the attitude in her voice? It just struck me. And so, hearing a song like “Chuck E’s in Love”, it was—it was a grownup story.

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“Chuck E’s in Love” from the album Rickie Lee Jones by Rickie Lee Jones. How come he don’t come and PLP with me Down at the meter no more? And how come he turn off the TV? And hang that sign on the door? Well, we call, and we call “How come?” We say Hey, what could make a boy behave this way? [Volume decreases and continues under the dialogue.]

lisa

And I love the kind of run-on sentences, the groove that keeps continuing. You hear it. And the backup harmonies. You get this kind of R&B backup harmonies that have that doppler effect. She’s really great at having doppler effect in her records. You know? Where it kind of sounds like it’s getting closer and then getting farther away.

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[Volume increases.] … and his old blue jeans? Well, this ain’t healthy It is some kind of clean That means Chuck E’s in love [Volume decreases and continues under the dialogue.]

lisa

For people who don’t know Rickie Lee Jones, she was one of the best songwriters and singers and performers who first came to prominence in the 1970s but still makes music all the way up through today. In fact, I recently read Rickie Lee Jones’s autobiography, called Last Chance Texaco, and it’s one of the best autobiographies I’ve ever read. She’s just such an amazing storyteller. She worked with some of the great studio musicians, great producers like Russ Titelman. She had a voice that was not folky, even though a lot of people associate her sometimes with other folky people at the time, like Joni Mitchell. She had more of a blues background and a standards background, and she was a great pianist and guitar player. But she’s one of the most amazing songwriters that ever lived.

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[Volume increases.] … behind us, down in the Pantages And whatever it is that he’s got up his sleeve Well, I hope it isn’t contagious What’s her name? Is that her there? Oh Christ, I think he’s even combed his hair Is that her? [Volume decreases and continues under the dialogue.]

lisa

Some of the things that stood out most for me from this song were a few of the lyrics really popped out. It’s like the big question: what is going on with Chuck E? What’s going on with Chuck E? And it’s like, “Oh, Chuck E’s in love. Huh.” And as a kid, you’re like, “Oh! Chuck E’s in love! Woah, he’s even combed his hair. That means something serious is going on with this guy, Chuck E.” You know? And then also, I remember the line sticking out after the amazing bridge. He had that great bridge where it breaks down to just the acoustic guitar. And it’s like, “Is he here?”

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[Volume increases.] Is he here? I look in the pool hall Well, is he here? I look in the drug store Is he here? No, he don’t come here no more What’s her name? Is that her there? Oh Christ, I think he’s even combed his hair Is that her? Well, then what’s her name? Oh, it’s never gonna be the same [Volume decreases and continues under the dialogue.]

lisa

And then it comes out with this big lyric, “Don’t you know—” And I thought, oh, she sounds like Chuck E. And so, it just had so much mystery. It would just draw me right in.

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[Volume increases.] Don’t you know? Chuck E’s in love, yeah, yeah Chuck E’s in love Chuck E’s in love, my, my [Volume decreases and continues under the dialogue.]

lisa

One of the reasons it inspired me, it was almost like my future was being painted when I heard this song. Because she had this song that really broke the mold of what you heard on the radio. And she was a woman, but you didn’t think of her as like, “Oh, it’s a woman singer.” It was just Rickie Lee Jones, the gal with the beret and the cigarette on the cover of her first album, called Rickie Lee Jones. It was not written as a hit. It was written as a great song, as an expression of what—a story that she had to tell about a guy named Chuck E. Rickie Lee Jones talks a lot about her own personal life in her songs, but she’s so poetic and she really captures images in an unbelievable way. I think the quality of the recording, the performances, the storytelling, and even though it was so sort of sophisticated and deep, it really still came across very boldly on the radio in 1979. Which is really interesting, because at that time you had huge hits on the radio. You know? Songs like “My Sharona” by The Knack. You had The Bee Gees and “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy?” by Rod Stewart. But still, this Rickie Lee Jones song, it was so unique. I think the song made me learn about myself, that you can make really unique music and make your own choices about who you are and what you want to express. And you can connect with so many people. Even if you’re not trying to write a hit song.

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[Volume increases.] Chuck E’s in love Chuck E’s in love I don’t believe what you’re saying to me This is so… [Volume decreases and continues under the dialogue.]

lisa

“Chuck E’s in Love” by Rickie Lee Jones changed my life. Because as a kid, it made me feel like I had a glimpse into a grownup world, a glimpse into storytelling, songwriting, performing at its best. And it took me someplace different than I had ever been just by hearing the song.

jesse

Lisa Loeb on the song that changed her life, “Chuck E’s in Love” by Rickie Lee Jones. As we mentioned before, Lisa Loeb will be starring alongside Tatiana Maslany in the dark comedy podcast Power Trip, the first episode of which drops July 21st. We’ll have a link to it on the Bullseye page at MaximumFun.org. Oh! And! As if she wasn’t busy enough, Lisa has her own daily radio show. It’s called Stay. It’s an hour of ’90s music and interviews on SiriusXM. You can give it a listen there. Let’s go out on another song by Lisa. This comes from her 2020 album, A Simple Trick to Happiness. This is “Sing Out”.

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“Sing Out” from the album A Simple Trick to Happiness by Lisa Loeb. I was trying too hard to fit in Make me feel like I belong to something But it hurt in my heart Hiding a part of who I am I was wasting my days down on myself Down on my life and everyone else I thought they won’t understand But it wasn’t about them It’s my parade [Volume decreases and continues under the dialogue.]

jesse

Bullseye is created from the homes me and the staff of Maximum Fun, in and around greater Los Angeles, California. Although, as I record this, I am preparing to head to the big apple, New York City, to perform at Lincoln Center. Probably will already have done it by the time you hear this. I am very excited. Thanks to Lincoln Center for inviting Judge John Hodgman and me! Our show is produced by speaking into microphones. Our senior producer is Kevin Ferguson. Our producers are Jesus Ambrosio and Richard Robey. Our production fellow at Maximum Fun is Tabatha Myers. We get booking help from Mara Davis. Our interstitial music is by Dan Wally, also known as DJW. Our theme music is by The Go! Team. It’s called “Huddle Formation”. Thanks to The Go! Team for sharing it with us, along with their label, Memphis Industries. Bullseye can also be found on YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook. You can follow us there. And I think that’s about it. Just remember: all great radio hosts have a signature signoff.

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[Volume increases.] La, la, la, la, la La, la, la, la, la La, la, la La, la, la [Volume decreases and continues under the dialogue.]

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Speaker: Bullseye with Jesse Thorn is a production of MaximumFun.org and is distributed by NPR.

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[Volume increases.] La, la, la, la, la, la La, la, la It’s my parade [Song ends.]

About the show

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.

Bullseye has been featured in Time, The New York Times, GQ and McSweeney’s, which called it “the kind of show people listen to in a more perfect world.” Since April 2013, the show has been distributed by NPR.

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