Soundtrack Of My Life: Ethan Hawke

The four time Oscar nominee talks making people uncomfortable at karaoke and why he can no longer listen to Prince

The first song I fell in love with
Willie Nelson – ‘Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain’
“It’s from Willie Nelson’s ‘Red Headed Stranger’. That whole album is like a country opera – it’s the country music equivalent to The Beatles’ ‘Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’. It’s a concept album. It’s incredibly simple and pared-down but it feels like one story told from multiple points of view. That song is just so lonely and tragic and heartbreaking and beautiful. I never stopped loving it.”

The first song I remember hearing
Hank Williams – ‘Jambalaya (On The Bayou)’
“That’s an interesting question. My father really loved Hank Williams and he used to play ‘Cold, Cold Heart’, ‘Jambalaya’ ‘Kaw-Liga’. I remember being about five. I had to do a show-and-tell in my first grade class and tell them about my summer and I sang the whole of ‘Jambalaya’.”

The first album I ever bought
The Clash – ‘The Clash’
“There were some cool older kids at school who had Clash T-shirts, so I thought I’d be cool if I bought that record. I was posing, but I did like it. I got it at the Princeton Record Exchange in New Jersey. I feel bad – I shoplifted there a lot! I really should go and pay them back.”

The song that makes me want to dance

The Jackson 5 – ‘I Want You Back’
“It’s impossible not to dance to that song. I also remember my eighth grade dance – I was dancing with a young woman named Heather Sterns and she was really beautiful. And I wouldn’t normally have any positive associations with Bryan Adams, but ‘Summer Of 69’ was playing and it felt like the most important song in the world.”

The song I want played at my funeral

Bruce Springsteen – ‘Hungry Heart’
“I want my daughter to sing that at my funeral. I just like that line, ‘Like a river that don’t know where it’s flowing / I took a wrong turn and I just kept going’.”

The song I can’t get out of my head
Evan Dando – ‘Hard Drive’
“Once you start singing that one you can’t sing anything else!”

The song I do at karaoke
Guns N’ Roses – ‘November Rain’
“I really like to do this because it’s really, really long and makes everyone really uncomfortable. Am I good? No, I’m terrible.”

The song I can no longer listen to
Prince – ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’
“You know what makes me just a little too sad? This does. I don’t want to talk about it – if I wanted to feel it I could just listen to the song.”

The song that reminds me of auditioning
Elvis Costello – ‘(The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes’
I took Elvis Costello’s ‘My Aim Is True’ to my audition for Dead Poets Society, and I was cranking it while waiting for my screen test. When I see the poster for the film I always think of this song.”

The song I wish I’d written
Kris Kristofferson – ‘Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down’
“He’s such a humanist. I made a CD of his 50 greatest hits for a friend, I call it the Kris Kollection. If you listen to the whole thing on a big car trip, it’s like finishing a novel. There’s something so literary and so wise about the rhymes. You feel like your heart gets bigger when you listen to it. Most recently I gave one to Chris Pratt. I interviewed Kris for Rolling Stone and directed him in my movie Chelsea Walls. He’s a true prince – deeply humble, deeply kind and very wise.”

Born To Be Blue is in cinemas July 25