KCRW’s edited version of this article is posted here.
“How did I not know Ed Ruscha was at the station recording a Guest DJ Project?! That is so cool!” This is what I shouted to Rachel, KCRW’s Music Publicist, as I high-fived her over this latest Guest DJ Project.
As KCRW’s Drive Director, I’m part of the small group that has a day job at the station, so I get to enjoy the wide array of guests that visit KCRW to participate in our programming. Ed Ruscha is a significant icon creating significant icons. He’s a major contributor to the birth of the Pop Art movement. He’s an artist. Ed Ruscha visiting KCRW’s Guest DJ project… this is big news.
Ruscha works with minimal and simple images. Viewers are left contemplating a delicate afterglow behind the impressions of his work. Constructed with the same minimal principles, hearing Ruscha’s picks of Doo Wop, blues and folk makes sense. Of course it’s the music he grew up with but it’s also the music he chose to grow up with. These genres’ are composed with simple arrangements that produce organic, sincere and real music. Without pomp and artifice, people exist in the lyrics. Stories and a human element. I see this in Ruscha’s work. Stories, people and so much beautiful commentary in his artwork’s seeming simplicity – all ideas spoken with just a few visual notes from artist-songwriter Ruscha.
It’s exciting to hear the musical Top 5 picks from an artist like Ruscha. His work exposes him as an outstanding thinker with revolutionary contributions to our visual language. A list of favorites like these offers a peek for onlookers to connect intimately with such a mind’s inspirations. It’s a benevolent paparazzi. Which makes the small tale of his last pick even sweeter.
Ruscha’s final song selection was one of his son’s, also an artist and a fairly active DJ, Eddie Ruscha Jr. He discusses the innocent song naming process that also involved his grandson’s participation. Listening to the story, it’s hard not to acknowledge that Ruscha’s proud of his family and loves the sanctity and intimacy that art creates, the tale closing with, “…and that’s how these things get done.” Things are made without affect. These things simply exist and we can play with naming them. This final inclusion is the humbling pick. The most human pick. The artistry. Sharing the song and story with our Project is touching and the feast of why these Projects are so engaging. Another simple masterpiece from Ed Ruscha, brought to you by KCRW’s Guest DJ Project.