Soundtrack Of My Life: Patton Oswalt

TV and film funnyman, Phil Collins apologist

The first song I remember hearing

Badfinger – ‘Day After Day’

“When we were really young, we moved around a lot because my dad was [in the] military, and this song was getting very heavy radio play at the time. I remember driving late at night for a new posting, and that’d be playing. I remember early in the morning going to school, and that’d be playing. It’s such a simple, stripped-down yearning for love and companionship. It’s just sung so unabashedly and so unironically that I think it lasts a very beautiful way.”

The first album I ever bought


Phil Collins – ‘No Jacket Required’

“My teen years were spent in the suburbs of Virginia, so everything I got was three or four years behind… but I’m not defending this, it’s a great album! I didn’t even buy the LP for this, I bought the cassette, it was the time of cassettes. I played it to death.”

The song that reminds me of home

Gerry Rafferty – ‘Right Down The Line’

“That’s my wife and I’s song. It was the first song at our wedding. When I hear it, I’m like, ‘Oh, I’m back home. It’s evening. I don’t have to go to work. I can just be home with her or we’re going to watch a TV show or something. I’m home and everything is OK.’”

The song I wish I’d written


David Bowie – ‘Life On Mars’

“It absolutely nails what I was going through in the suburbs, which is, ‘I cannot reach transcendence. I can’t get it at home, and I can’t get it from entertainment. I’m losing my mind. And I want to somehow break through.’ Especially for someone like Bowie, who at the time was really trying to do something transcendent. Think of how hard it must have been for someone who was non-binary, and didn’t even have the terminology for it back then in the early ‘70s. They’re like, ‘Why does anyone care about this stuff? Can’t we move on to the next thing?’ but you don’t have the words to articulate it and it comes out like, ‘Is there life on Mars?’ It’s what a frustrated too-smart-for-their-own-good teen would yell at the sky in the early ‘70s.”

The song I sing at karaoke

Tony Orlando and Dawn – ‘Knock Three Times’

“The whole audience is like, ‘bam, bam, bam’ and you can get the crowd going. It’s silly, mindless fun: a perfect karaoke song. If the audience is not doing the ‘bam, bam, bam’, I know they’re not really focused.”

The song I can’t get out of my head

Lana Del Rey – ‘Video Games’

“I know it was her first big breakthrough song, but it was not on my radar when it came out. When I drive around my daughter plays it all the time, and goddammit if that song didn’t burrow its way into my brain. It’s not irritating because the melodies are so beautiful, I’m happy to have it in my head.”

The song I can’t listen to anymore

The Beatles – ‘Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da’

“Both my daughter and I are huge Beatles fans, so when they do a song I don’t like it really annoys me, like ‘How dare you be The Beatles but then do this song?’ I’m sorry to be an asshole about it. The opening piano of this song is John Lennon being so pissed off at Paul for working that song, so he’s making fun of him and Paul was just like, ‘We’ll use that!’ So the opening of ‘Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da’ is John Lennon having a temper tantrum.”

The song I want played at my funeral

Morgan Delt – ‘Some Sunsick Day’

“It’s a beautiful song about annihilation and complete hopelessness, but it’s so upbeat and beautiful. I love it. And that would be a great song to send me off into the ether.”

The song that makes me cry

John Lennon – ‘Jealous Guy’

“I know he said he wrote it for Yoko Ono, but it could just as well be a song that he’s singing to Paul McCartney. He’s mourning that their friendship is gone. ‘I was such an asshole to you when I wrote, ‘How Do You Sleep.’’ Was he jealous of Paul’s success, and he’s ashamed of that? There’s so much raw, genuine honesty [in it] and he embraces some really ugly parts of himself. He’s not asking for any kind of redemption. Just, ‘This is what I did.’ There’s something really, really beautiful about that. To look at that darkness in yourself and go, ‘Oh yeah, I’m capable of that. I was always the one pointing that darkness out in other people, and the whole time it was in me.’”

‘I Love My Dad’, starring Patton Oswalt, is available on Digital Download from January 23

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