Episode 191: Earth Water Air Fire

Episode 191: Earth Water Air Fire
Pat welcomes the voice of Korra on Nickelodeon's hit series "The Legend of Korra" Janet Varney to the Co-Host chair to play songs with one of the four classic elements (Earth, Water, Air, Fire) in the title.
From March 12, 2015

With your host:

Pat Francis

00:00:00 Pat welcomes us to the show. We have a very lovely lady in studio as today's special guest co-host. You've seen (or heard) her from things like The Legend of Korra, Burning Love, and You're the Worst. It's actress Janet Varney!
San Francisco SketchFest just ended, which Janet co-founded 14 years ago. Originally it was just a bunch of sketch comedy groups in a theater, but over the years it's turned into this whole big showcase that gets the whole city involved. Lot of big names involved with it. Never Not Funny's first year there, Pat and Matt were awestruck that they were sharing the same greenroom at Cobb's Comedy Club with Robin Williams.
00:05:00 Right now Janet's doing some new voiceover work because The Legend of Korra just ended. She's Korra, by the way. Janet's gonna be traveling around the country, meeting fans, kissing babies and such. It's the most high profile thing she's ever done. She had no idea it would be this big. And it's not like this was a one-woman show. There was also J.K. Simmons and Maria Bamford and Gary Cole and Jon Heder and Anne Heche and a whole cast of people. It took Janet a few auditions to get the part, but by golly she got it.
00:10:00 Janet was pretty nervous about the gig, but it eventually passed. The process consisted of recording the episode, then coming back in to record new lines, then coming back in again to record ADR and fight sounds. The first season took a year. When the show ended, it wasn't that hard on her because she knew it was only going to be four seasons. The cast would record with each other as best as the schedules would allow. In an interesting turn, Henry Rollins was actually on the show too. Janet says he's a really nice guy, but he still looks like he would rip your throat out if you stepped on his foot. But really, a sweet guy. The voice director on the show, Andrea Romano, is a legend and helped Janet nail down her lines. It's crucial to have a liaison between the writers and the actors to get the nuances right.
00:15:00 Pat's daughter Rita is a big Legend of Korra fan and has a question for Janet: What was it like doing the fight voices? Janet says it was funny, silly, and embarrassing. She would do some of the gestures in the recording booth to get it right. "There's no dignity in it," Janet laughs, "but it's awesome." Pat has Janet give an example of a punch. Instead of giving every listener the satisfaction of actually punching Pat, Janet instead settles on a very cool "Huuh!" Trust me, it sounds better than it reads.
00:20:00 Today's topic: Songs with "earth," "water," "air," or "fire" in the title. Why? Well, those are the four elements of the Avatar/Legend of Korra universe. Janet explains to Pat how the whole bending thing works. And I would explain to you too, but we have A NEW SEGMENT TO UNVEIL!!!!!!!!!! It's called

Pat sometimes writes reviews for Pop Culture Beast and he'll get CDs from bands that he's never heard of. So for the listening pleasure of the Rock Solid fandom, today Pat, Janet, and Kyle are going to listen to a few songs by a band that none of them have heard of and decide if they like it or not.
This week's CD is One and All by The Shams
  • "Sunset Paddy's" --- "Eh" from Pat and Kyle. The lead singer has an Irish brogue. Janet likes her Irish brogue vocals to be in songs with a rougher edge. It's too polished, too nice.
  • "Not Bothered" --- All three are shaking their heads. It's not looking good for The Shams.
  • "Sick and Tired" --- This is the best of the three songs. But it's not good enough to save them. Sorry, Shams, but you gotta hit the bricks!
"That was fun."
- Janet, after listening to The Shams

"Was it?"
- Pat, with the line of the episode
00:25:00 Janet enjoys listening to new music, but there's a lot out there. It's not easy honing in on your new favorites when there's such a wide variety of flugelhorns and didjeridus that are cluttering up the iTunes store. Who is Janet's favorite artist, asks Pat. She doesn't have an answer. Pat tries to pry it out of her, but Janet honestly doesn't have a favorite artist. She's an enigma, that Varney.
Okay, enough lip service, let's get into the topic. Pat kicks us off with a song that came out before Janet was even born. Off the album Tapestry, it's "I Feel the Earth Move" by Carole King.
00:30:00 Janet's first pick is by a band called The American Analog Set. The song is "Gone to Earth" off the album The Fun of Watching Fireworks. Janet only has three songs in her iTunes with "earth" in the title. "That's not a lot," says Pat. Noah there, Mensa man. How about you tone down the brain sass. Not all of us are gifted with the knowledge that THREE is not a lot. Kyle suggests a new game where Pat has to guess if a number is a lot or not. I'm disgusted by the very thought of it, yet partially curious.
00:35:00 Splish splash, Pat Francis has a water song. Off the album Private Eyes, it's Hall & Oates with the song "Head Above Water". That album cut is so deep the water pressure almost crushed me to death.
Janet has a lot of slower songs on her docket, including this next one. It's "Washing of the Water" by Peter Gabriel off the album Us. It's the kind of song that you would listen to during a lovely Winter evening, as you sit in your living room and watch the snow flakes sprinkle down outside the window.
It's an obvious choice, but Pat's first air song is "In the Air Tonight" by Phil Collins off the album Face Value. Contrary to popular belief, Phil Collins did not see someone get killed. But I'm sure when he got divorced for the 16th time without a prenup, he wanted to smash someone's skull in with a crescent wrench and leave them bleeding in the moonlight.
00:40:00 Mail's here. Get it? Because Janet's next pick is The Postal Service. We have fun here on the Rock Solid Guide. Janet is a big Death Cab for Cutie fan, so this Ben Gibbard side-project is right up her alley. Janet plays the song "Recycled Air" off their only album Give Up. It's very different from Gibbard's Death Cab stuff. Very electronic.
00:45:00 Janet bemoans that she is playing artists she likes, but these aren't her favorite songs. Yet she must play them because they have a specific word in the title. Damn you, words! Pat, meanwhile, is stop, drop, and rolling in fire songs. He's got 162 of those suckers. 4 alone by AC/DC. But we're not playing AC/DC. Instead Pat plays "Set Fire to the Rain" by Adele from the album 21.
We're going back-to-back and belly-to-belly with the female artists. Janet plays "Cold Blue Steel and Sweet Fire" by Joni Mitchell off the album For the Roses. Joni's got that unique voice that borders on yodeling. Janet has never seen her live. She was 29 when she did that song, she's now 71. When Pat saw a 70-year-old Carole King with James Taylor at the Hollywood Bowl, she was moving and grooving like nobody's business.
00:50:00 Pat smuggled in wine for the show. Pilar was nervous about getting caught, because she seemingly forgot that she's a full-grown adult at a James Taylor/Carole King show and not a 16-year-old at a Tesla concert. Not speaking of which, Pat's got another earth song. Off their self-titled debut album, it's "Planet Earth" by Duran Duran. Pat wants more Duran Duran on the show and sets Christy Stratton to the task. Janet actually was one of the star's of Christy's new webseries. In fact, Christy recorded something about Janet just for this occasion:

What a nice thing to say. Wait a minute, I think Lenny Kravitz has something to say too.

By this point, Janet has caught on to Pat's little shenanigans. That said, Pat decides to complete the trifecta with Ace Frehley.

The trilogy is complete. Seriously though, Christy had nothing but praise for Janet.
00:55:00 Janet worries that this is the worst episode of Rock Solid ever recorded. No no no no no. Janet, is your name Murray Valeriano? Yeah, I wouldn't worry about it. But what I would worry about is playing your next pick. Off the album Challengers, it's The New Pornographers with "All the Things That Go to Make Heaven and Earth". Pat doesn't like the name "New Pornographers." He prefers the old pornographers, back when pornography had style and class... and hair... lots and lots of hair.
Pat reveals that Paul Gilmartin, Janet's co-host on Dinner and a Movie for 7 years, will coming on the show soon to discuss crazy songs. He's the host of the Mental Illness Happy Hour podcast, so there you go. Paul is not the most gentlemanly of guys. At poker night, he'll usually show up late, be nasty to everyone, and take 5 slices of pizza for himself at once. Sounds like an interesting chap. Somehow this conversation turns to talking about Jules Shear's writing credits on Cyndi Lauper's She's So Unusual album.
01:00:00 Rock in Peace to Mr. Andy Gibb. Pat plays "(Love Is) Thicker Than Water" off the album Flowing Rivers. Pat points out that the Brothers Gibb ran the spectrum of handsomeness. The conversation turns back to Cyndi Lauper. Janet thinks she can do an impression of every singer in We Are the World. She lays down a few verses and the verdict... pretty good. No impression of Kim Carnes, the Mayor of Pasadena, however. It always helps to have a political impression in your back pocket.
01:05:00 Sad, morose, woe-is-me Janet Varney plays another quiet, slow song for us. It's "Grey Ice Water" by Sun Kil Moon off the album Tiny Cities. The album is an entire covers album of Modest Mouse songs. Kyle plays the original version and, yes, it does indeed confirm that these are two different people. The Sun Kil Moon also did an acoustic covers album of AC/DC songs. We hear a little bit of "Rock 'n' Roll Singer."
01:10:00 When AC/DC lyrics are coming from a solo acoustic singer, they sound so much deeper than they actually are. Kyle says that if he did Kiss songs like this, they would still suck. We hear another cover, "Love at First Feel." Janet sings along beautifully. Pat is going to iTunes and buying this bad boy as soon as he can.
Pat goes old school (when doesn't he?) with his next air pick. He plays "Something in the Air" by Thunderclap Newman off the album Hollywood Dream. Janet does play the guitar. She recently had a jam session with Sara Watkins of the Watkins family.
01:15:00 Pat's worried that Janet isn't having any fun. She's having fun, it's just her songs that depress everybody. Even her next band, Radiohead, is full of mopey Brits. Janet plays "Airbag" off the album OK Computer. That Thom Yorke. Not only is he always sad, but he's always winking, too. What schemes lay hidden behind those sparkling eyes?
He's got the voice of an angel and the left eye of Sandor Clegane.
01:20:00 It's time for Pat to play another classic rock deep cut. It's by a guy named Walter Egan. "Isn't he a ghostbuster?" asks Kyle. He had a one-hit wonder with a song called "Magnet and Steel." We listen to it. Janet has never heard of it. But that's not the song Pat is playing. Instead we hear "Fool Moon Fire" off the album Wild Exhibitions.
Janet's next pick is the band The National. She plays "Fireproof" off the album Trouble Will Find Me.
01:25:00 Pat's wife Pilar was on Janet's podcast The JV Club. She was a nervous nelly about it, but eventually lightened up. Meanwhile, Janet's getting nervous because she hasn't eaten dinner yet. This is a late night record, after all. Pat offers her some chocolate like a proper host, but Janet politely refuses. These folks shouldn't be jabbering about food, because we've still got songs to play! Pat plays "Heaven Is a Place on Earth" by Belinda Carlisle off her album Heaven on Earth.
01:30:00 Pat thinks Belinda got some face work done, but Belinda has sworn that she hasn't. Now Barry Manilow, on the other hand, could break a polygraph machine if he said he didn't have plastic surgery. He looks like a wax museum statue of himself. When he's onstage he's fine, but up close, according to Pat, he "looks like human skin pulled over a pelican's head."
Something odd happens. Janet's next song, "Everybody's Gone" by The Clientele from the album The Violet Hour, does not have "earth," "water," "air," or "fire" in the title. Why was this played? There's a song on the album called "House on Fire." Was that supposed to be played instead? Was there a labelling mistake? Is this some sort of naughty caprice against a weary man on the edge of sanity? Answer me, you cruel jesters of fate!
01:35:00 Apology time: Janet gives apologies to "Gold in the Air of Summer" by Kings of Convenience. Pat gives apologies to "Bridge over Troubled Water" by Simon and Garfunkel and "How Is the Air Up There?" by The Bangles. Kyle hates "Bridge over Troubled Water," so he can thank his lucky stars it wasn't played today.
Plugs time. You can find Janet on Twitter @janetvarney. Her website is JanetVarney.com. Also check out her podcast The JV Club. It's about Janet and a guest talking about their teenage years. She usually only has females on, but she recently did a thing called Boys of Summer where she had on male guests. Maybe Pat will go on it sometime and cry his eyes out.
Janet Varney, you were an absolute delight to have on the podcast. Pat sends us home with The Rolling Stones. Off the album Tattoo You, it's the song "Hang Fire".
Time Song Album Artist Who
00:20:00 Sunset Paddy’s One and All The Shams Pat (First Listen)
00:20:00 Not Bothered One and All The Shams Pat (First Listen)
00:25:00 Sick and Tired One and All The Shams Pat (First Listen)
00:25:00 I Feel the Earth Move Tapestry Carole King Pat
00:30:00 Gone to Earth The Fun of Watching Fireworks The American Analog Set Janet
00:35:00 Head Above Water Private Eyes Hall & Oates Pat
00:35:00 Washing of the Water Us Peter Gabriel Janet
00:35:00 In the Air Tonight Face Value Phil Collins Pat
00:40:00 Recycled Air Give Up The Postal Service Janet
00:45:00 Set Fire to the Rain 21 Adele Pat
00:45:00 Cold Blue Steel and Sweet Fire For the Roses Joni Mitchell Janet
00:50:00 Planet Earth Duran Duran Duran Duran Pat
00:55:00 All the Things That Go to Make Heaven and Earth Challengers The New Pornographers Janet
01:00:00 (Love Is) Thicker Than Water) Flowing Rivers Andy Gibb Pat
01:05:00 Grey Ice Water Tiny Cities Sun Kil Moon Janet
01:10:00 Something in the Air Hollywood Dream Thunderclap Newman Pat
01:15:00 Airbag OK Computer Radiohead Janet
01:20:00 Fool Moon Fire Wild Exhibitions Walter Egan Pat
01:20:00 Fireproof Trouble Will Find Me The National Janet
01:25:00 Heaven Is a Place on Earth Heaven on Earth Belinda Carlisle Pat
01:30:00 Everybody’s Gone The Violet Hour The Clientele Janet
01:40:00 Hang Fire Tattoo You The Rolling Stones Pat