Mark Oliver Everett

The first song that I remember hearing

The Beatles – ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’

“I was about four years old when it came out [in 1967]. I grew up in Virginia, in the Washington DC suburbs, and I had an older sister who was constantly playing cool music in her bedroom. This is the one that I remember, my favourite part was where it fades out and then fades back in… I went on The Beatles tour in Liverpool once. If you’re a serious Beatles fan, I recommend it. I just was enthralled by the whole thing – to actually see Strawberry Fields and the Eleanor Rigby grave.”

The first album that I bought

Plastic Ono Band – ‘Live Peace in Toronto 1969’

“The reason it’s so memorable to me is because I had seen it previously in the record store and passed up on it, only to learn that it was very rare. So it was a real stroke of luck that it came across my path again later. I made sure to buy it that time. Maybe it’s not the greatest first record to buy – but, you know, it was John Lennon live in 1969! That’s around the same time he made ‘Abbey Road’ with The Beatles.”

The first gig I went to

George Harrison at the Capitol Center in Landover, Maryland, 1974

“It was, I think, one of only two [solo] tours he did. I was 11 and it was just mind-blowing. Billy Preston was part of the band and he did a couple of his songs which were phenomenal too. And there was even a part where George and Billy danced. The tour was panned critically. He was on a coke bender, I guess, and his voice was shot and he looked bad. He was, you know, kind of a skeletal version of himself, but I didn’t care. It was a Beatle, it was George Harrison right there singing in the same room with me. He also did a John Lennon Beatles song – ‘In My Life’. And he did ‘Something’ and ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’.”

The song that reminds me of home

Randy Newman – ‘I Love LA’

“The guy who signed me to DreamWorks Records is Randy’s best friend, Lenny Waronker, who also produced most of his albums. He told me a good story. I hope I don’t get anyone in trouble… He was telling me how generous Bob Dylan was with compliments to other musical artists and that Randy’s kind of the opposite. Once, Dylan was at a party and he came up to Randy and was like, ‘hey man, you got any new chords?’ And then, later, Randy was like, ‘Oh brother. What’s with that guy, Dylan?’ ‘New chords?’ ‘What’s that?!'”

The song I wish I’d written

The Beatles – ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’

“If Radiohead, or whoever, put that out today, your mind would still be blown. And to do that in 1967 is just insane. When you strip away the incredibly inventive production, it’s just the most beautiful song in the way it’s presented. I would love to write anything a 10th as good.”

The song I can’t get out of my head

Rickie Lee Jones – ‘Skeletons’

“This is spine-tingling. Good luck keeping it together and not bawling your head off by the end because it’s a very intense story song… It’s her and an orchestra, all recorded in one take. Stunning.”

The song I can no longer listen to

Van Morrison – ‘Brown Eyed Girl’

“There are a lot of truly great songs that are so great that they get played constantly. They’re so ubiquitous that I just don’t feel like I ever need to hear them again. When this comes on the radio, I have to switch the station quickly. There’s nothing wrong with it. It’s a great song and that’s why they play it so much… I’d love to be able to hear ‘Brown Eyed Girl’ with fresh ears.”

The song that makes me want to dance

Peaches – ‘Serpentine’

Eels would used to host a Sunday croquet game, for years, and then we would go out to dinner and come back and have a dance party at my house. I was looking at some of the playlists from those parties and they always started with Peaches, and very often with this song. Looks it up right now and you’ll understand why.”

The song that makes me cry

Randy Newman – ‘Losing you’

“It is a chilling beautiful song that stands up there with his greatest early work. He’s one of those guys that can still make a song as good as his earliest stuff. The tagline is, you know, he’s been through all sorts of experiences. He’s an old guy looking back and he got over this, he got over that, but he’ll never get over losing you. It’s giving me goosebumps just talking about it. That’s how powerful it is.”

The song I do at karaoke

Prince – ‘Raspberry Beret’

“I’m in a unique position where I just do karaoke with my band and make an unsuspecting audience listen. We’re big on doing covers every tour. On the last Eels tour we were doing this one. It’s probably my favourite Prince song… and to get to do that every night was so fun. The audience enjoyed it because they all knew it and it was such a curveball. We did it, like, second song in.”

Eels’ Christmas song ‘Christmas, Why You Gotta Do Me Like This?’ is out now. The band’s new compilation album ‘EELS So Good: Essential EELS, Vol.2’ is out on December 15 via E Works/[PIAS]

The post Soundtrack Of My Life: Eels’ Mark Oliver Everett appeared first on NME.


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