Wayne Coyne’s Life in Music

“I saw them in Chicago, while simultaneously watching the fireworks from a baseball game in another stadium and the security guards beating the shit out of this belligerent asshole – and I was happy, ‘cos he’d been pissing everybody off the whole show.  And Radiohead are rocking “There There”.  That’s a lot of dimensions happening for me on this.”  

-Wayne Coyne’s fond memories of Radiohead’s “There, There” in “My Record Collection: Wayne Coyne”, Q #281, Page 40


Sparked by Wayne Coyne’s amusing tales on the “My Life in Music” page in Uncut’s September 2010 issue, Psych Explorations of the Future Heart’s “songs of the day” for that entire month were picked by Wayne (via this magazine piece and others like it)… 
…likewise, the “quote of the day” were Wayne’s comments on this music.  We also took a look back at similar features in various publications from years past, including what’s on his iPod and his ballot for Rolling Stone’s “500 Greatest Albums of All Time” December 2003 issue. 

Much more like this daily at twitter/FutureHeartDay  

The Record That Confused Wayne For Decades… Also, His Favorite Jazz Album 

Directions in Music by Miles Davis, Bitches Brew, 1970 

“I’m obsessed with Miles from [1969’s] In A Silent Way up to about 1975.  Whenever I want to hear music that’s just a strange cacophony of sometimes melodic stuff, sometimes abstract stuff, I just have a listen to that.”  

“I never liked it until the last 10 years.  But the reasons I hated it earlier are the exact reasons I totally love it now.”

Bitches Brew, was one of four albums Wayne helped vote into the top 100 of Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time in 2003.  It was #5 on his ballot.  The “White Album” was his #2 (his only selection to make the top ten, at #10 – read what he had to say about its “drug-damaged vibe” in 2011 here), Dark Side of the Moon was his #8 (overall #43) and Physical Graffiti was his #10 vote (and #70 on the list).  Four of Wayne’s top ten did not make Rolling Stone’s 500: Björk’s Debut, The Wizard of Oz Soundtrack (his #3 pick), Donovan’s Greatest Hits (#4) and In the Court of the Crimson King (#6). 

Wayne’s list of favorite albums varies every time he’s asked, but Bitches Brew is almost always there (Floyd, Zep, The Wizard of Oz and The White Album – or Revolver – are also common).  Here’s what he’s said about Bitches Brew most recently (June 2011)

Wayne’s Favorite Dance Record 

LCD Soundsystem, Sound Of Silver, 2007 

James Murphy is amazing.  I saw LCD Soundsystem the other night, and there were moments where it reminded of Black Flag in the early ’80s, when Greg Ginn would do these long, strange guitar jams.  LCD were making music that was hypnotic and dancey, but with real intensity.”  

Watch Wayne tell the full story of the “fat, naked PCP guy” LCD Soundsystem incident at Bonnaroo, here.


Wayne added in 2011 to The Quietus “We’ve played with them quite a few times over the last couple of years, getting to know James Murphy and hearing that music in unexpected places. I love them now. I think I loved them too late, now they’re broke up or whatever, but I love them.”

The Record That Gets Wayne Dancing Like a Dork 

Deerhoof, Friend Opportunity, 2007 

“They’re just an amazing creative, freaky unexpected group…. and this album is the one: they do time signatures where you feel like you’re rocking along with it, but if you actually pay attention to it you can’t figure out what it is.  But as long as you move like a dork you’re alright.”


Wayne’s Guilty Pleasure 

Amy MacDonald, A Curious Thing, 2010 

No musical pleasures are guilty to me… When listing new music I liked, I’d mention her, and people would be like, “You like that?”  And I was like, “sorry, she’s not cool then?”  But I was utterly blown away by her performances.”


The Song Wayne Would Like To Have Written  

Joe Cocker, “You Are So Beautiful”, 1974 

This is basically a piano vamp with Cocker singing the same line, “You are so beautiful to me”, over and over, with hardly any other words.  The chord changes go around in an endless cycle.  It sounds so simple, but it’s devastatingly effective; it’s moving as hell.”


The Record Playing The First Time Wayne Had Sex 

Steely Dan, Aja, 1977 

“Trust me, the album wasn’t my choosing… I’m pretty sure it did add to the awkwardness.”


Though this may be not be as cool as Bitches Brew, both feature Wayne Shorter… not sure if Wayne took note of that though (as I’m sure he was – uh, how do you say, pre-occupied… 

The First Music Wayne Heard On Acid 

CSNY, “Helpless”, 1970 

“I’m often told our music has hallucinogenic properties, even though I don’t like LSD… There’s something in the slide guitar part that is still a bad trigger for me – it haunts me to this day.”


It may have scarred him for life though he still picked it for “Wayne Coyne’s Life In CD” on the February 2, 2003 episode of Tracey Macleod.  Another selection from that day was from the first record he ever bought… 

The First Record Wayne Ever Bought 

Jimi Hendrix, Crash Landing, 1975
I’m not proud of this buy.  It’s one of many Hendrix records made after he died,completed by Alan Douglas with session musicians.  My older brothers used to to buy all the LPs I needed, but I bought this as nobody I knew owned it… but I’m not sure if Hendrix is even in playing it!”

The Record That Takes Wayne Back To Childhood 

The BeeGees, “Lonely Days”, 1970 

“A strange arrangement, with spooky harmonies.  It’s sloppy, slightly out-of-time, and with bad handclaps instead of a drumkit…but, I don’t hear it often enough, and when I do it’s like a time machine.  Suddenly, it’s 1970, I’m in fourth grade, in love with my childhood crush.”


The Flaming Lips have covered “I Started a Joke,” “Every Christian Lion-Hearted Man Will Show You,” and “To Love Somebody” – all early BeeGees’ pop nuggets (subsequently shadowed by their disco hits in the mid/late-’70s).   Wayne has often spoken highly of their early work but on VH1’s recent series 100 Greatest Artists of All Time he expressed equal enthusiasm for their better known work, saying: “That Saturday Night Fever soundtrack, you hear it so much that you forget how phenomenal it is.  I mean even today you hear it and it’s just amazing.” 

It’s his allegiance to another ’60s-band-that-evolved-in-the-’70s that gets his pick as the greatest of all-time on that VH1 series though (as seen in the opening sequence for the show)… 

The Record That Blew Wayne’s Teenage Mind 

The Who, Tommy, 1969 

Wayne explained why The Who are the greatest to VH1′s 100 Greatest Artists of All Time: “Well I saw The Who, I was very lucky, and I said, ‘this is so potent and it speaks to me so much,’ and I think I walked out of that show convinced that I want to be in a band.” 

“Seeing The Who in Oklahoma City in 1977 when I was 16 was monstrous and life-changing.  When they sing “See Me, Feel Me” – ‘Gazing at you I get the heat/ Following you I climb the mountain…’ it’s the best thing ever.” Wayne added in 2011, “When I saw The Who play live in 1977, that was really a moment that changed music for me; it was no longer music, it was like a deeply religious power to me. They were still doing these songs from Tommy, in a sense like they were on Live At Leeds, where it was just utter chaos, [and] utter release. And even though people would say that at the time that I saw them they weren’t at the peak of their powers, they were powerful enough on this night. That was a life-changing, fucking devastating couple of hours of music. I walked out there like I’d changed heads.”

Some Other Artists Wayne Comments on in VH1′s 100 Greatest Artists of All Time
Hour 2: #66 Justin Timberlake (but of course!)
Hour 3: #57 Iggy and Stooges
Hour 4: #24 The Velvet Underground
Hour 5: #17 Queen; #5 Bob Dylan 

The Album That Reminds Wayne of His Brothers Smoking Pot

Led Zeppelin, IV, 1971

“I  was 10 years old, and my brothers started smoking pot and listening to that all the time. So we lived a lot of our young intense lives with all that cool Led Zeppelin shit playing. But when I hear Led Zeppelin IV, I guess that’s where I discovered that idea of a rock group. So for me, Led Zeppelin never really evokes anything other than these dudes playing this bad ass music…  I don’t see how anyone who loves music could listen to that and not think, ‘Fuck, that’s cool’. Such cool drumming, such cool effects on the guitars… You can’t take Robert Plant’s screeching out of that and get the same effect. It’s just what the song is. That song ‘Rock N Roll’ [sings] “been a long time since I rock ‘n rolled”… if you don’t sing it like that, it doesn’t have the same effect.” –The Quietus

The Record That Reminds Wayne of His Mother 

Tom Jones, Tom, 1970 

“My mother loved Tom Jones – I played him at her funeral… And as I get older, this flare that we [as a band] have for drama, and even my style – here I am a guy in a dumb suit with curly hair – could have come from Tom Jones.”


The Flaming Lips got to collaborate with Tom for the 2003 theme song to Duck Dodgers. 

The Record That Carries On The Family Tradition 

Stardeath and White Dwarfs, The Birth, 2009 

“I know it sounds like nepotism, but they’re great musicians… They have a younger version of the Flaming Lips mentality.  They’re brave and they don’t care if it’s prog rock, punk rock, classic rock…”


Watch a Stardeath and White Dwarfs concert here

The Record That Cured Wayne of Beck Fatigue 

Beck, Sea Change, 2002 

“When we toured with Beck…I always told him, “Dude, Sea Change is where your genius is.”… I can say that the challenge of having to be  around him and be his group did not diminish this music one bit.” 

Though  the Flaming Lips/ Beck tour from fall 2002 resulted in some well-documented disagreements between the two – not to mention, some fantastic music – Wayne has consisted referred to Sea Change as one of his favorite albums.  It was #9 on his ballot for Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time in 2003 and he was still talking about it last year to Q magazine, the source of the above quote.



The Record That Cured Wayne of Indie Rock 

“For the longest time I just dismissed it as being disco or computers or whatever.  But the minute I let that go – this is her singing great songs with great energy and fantastic production – I realized it was just music from another world.”


When Wayne Coyne was on Rolling Stone’s panel selecting 500 Greatest Album of All Time (12/11/2003, Issue 937), Bjork’s Debut was his top choice and “Venus as a Boy” in particular has been singled out by him many times – such as on “Wayne Coyne’s Life in CD” on BBC 6 Music’s Tracey MacLeod (February 2, 2003 airing), and according to January 2004’s Wired, it was the 7th most played song on his iPod.  Commenting on the song in 2001 to the now defunct playlist sharing community Uplister, Wayne enthused, “I love Bjork. I love the way she sings, I love that she’s just a freak…I love everything about her, the whole way that she is. She’s Icelandic, so her English is a bit tore up, but it just makes it better–you just don’t know where she’s coming from. And maybe it’s better that way. ‘Venus As a Boy’ just shows you how weird she is. I think it was a single in Europe and Japan . Her singles don’t get much [play] here, but even at that, it’s a great single. It’s one of those perfect moments.” 

Apparently he felt the same way about Bjork’s Debut at the end of the decade as at the beginning: when Q’s monthly feature “My Record Collection” focused on Wayne in the December 2009 issue, it was named “The Record That Cured Me of Indie Rock”… Coyne explained: “I was ready for something that wasn’t rock.  We were so embedded with indie rock, and here was something coming from British club culture.” 

The Indie Rock Album The Flaming Lips Listen To On Long Drives

Yo La Tengo, Popular Songs, 2009

“They have a way of doing this hypnotic, simple, grinding-away thing. The guitarist, Ira Kaplan – he’s crazy with all these delay effects, the way he’s layering them up. We would end up listening to them almost by accident. There have been a couple of times where we would do these long drives and we’d put on a record like Boris or Yo La Tengo, and they’ll have songs that go on for ten minutes, and you’re getting into these big soundscapes that just dig into oblivion. We’ve really embraced that in the past couple of years: to find this perfect goal, a sound you can play over and over, and not necessarily get to a crescendo and back, but to get to the edge and stay there. And they do that great… They’re fucking weirdos, they’re just not a typical rock group.”The Quietus

The Album That Frees Wayne

Boris, Smile, 2008

“It’s not music that could have been done by an American group. I like the fact that it’s done by these fucking drugged out Japanese dudes. There’s probably something in one of those eight minute long jams that I picked out and thought ‘Oh yeah! Cool! Let’s hear that again’. There’s something about these long passages that aren’t going to tell you a story, it’s not going to tell you an answer, it’s not about a melodic piece playing out. It’s just holding you out there on the edge, like, what’s happening next? I don’t know, I don’t know… That’s a great druggy calling that their music has for me. It suspends you, and you’re free – you’re just listening to Boris. That’s the only thing in your world at the time.” –The Quietus 

The Album That Rejuvenates Wayne

Tobacco, Maniac Meat, 2010

“He does the same song, over and over. He’s working in the same colour palette every time, and he knows it, and he knows he’s trapped in it, and I know it too. And it’s rejuvenating. Even though you’ve heard these sounds he does a lot, it still comes back at you. Very effective. It’s very evocative. He uses all these reverbs and echoes and distortions and it doesn’t become music to you, it becomes an atmosphere, a mood.” – The Quietus

The Album That Wayne Plays at Parties at His House

Jefferson Airplane, Surrealistic Pillow, 1967

“There’s that crazy reverbed out acoustic piece, ‘Embryonic Journey’, that I’ve been playing at parties at my house and no one knows what it is. It’s otherwordly. And I like that era of radical San Francisco glamour, there’s an element of that in Big Brother and the Holding Company too. There’s something about the way the guitars and drums were compressed together that I like. I like that era of Grace Slick, she’s at the peak of discovering her dynamics and her voice. Even lyrically, she comes out with some cool shit, she’s so confident and so free that we get those great, simple songs.” –The Quietus

Wayne’s Favorite Pink Floyd Album 

Pink Floyd, Meddle, 1971 

According to January 2004’s Wired, Syd Barrett’s “No Good Trying” was the third most played song on Wayne’s iPod and he has recurringly discussed Syd Barrett’s influence on him. 

I veer between loving the Syd stuff and then going for the Roger Waters-driven era.  But I’ll pick Meddle as my favorite.  It’s a group effort, with lots of Gilmour vocals.  I also like The Dark Side Of The Moon.  That was until we re-recorded it last year.  Now we’re all sick of it, ha!  We recorded every song in a weekend.  It was entirely relaxed, no pressure, no desire for immortality.  Often the best stuff is made like that.”

“Some think Pink Floyd are cynical but a lot of it is optimistic, humanistic stuff.  [“Fearless’] talks about going up the mountain and peering over the cloud.”

So, you might be wondering now… what else was towards the top of his iPod besides Syd???

Well, Igor Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring” (which he commented on in 2011 here), Modest Mouse’s “Shit Luck”, The Beatles’ “Yellow Submarine” and David Bowie “The Man Who Sold the World”

Wayne’s Other Pink Floyd Picks, and How They Are Related to His Favorite Soundtracks 

Hint: his favorite film soundtrack is, in his own words, “dense, cleverly written, sometime atonal and shronky.” 

Another hint: it’s not The Wizard of Oz, though he also has a strong enthusiasm for those songs and orchestration, “huge, complicated recordings with choirs…orchestras and three different types of bands…at the same time” – adding in 2011 “There’s a lot of fantastical, ridiculous, musical movies out there that, to me, are nauseating. Wizard of Oz should be one of those – out-dated, overdone, with horrible music – but it rises above what it’s made of.”

So if it’s not The Wizard of Oz, then what? Click here to find out… 

For more along these lines, check out The Flaming Alphabet, an alphabetic guide to help enthusiasts decide if they are Flaming Freaks (or just casual acquaintances) featuring A-Z songs picked by Wayne Coyne for the BBC.  Likewise, watch the Wayne Coyne’s Life in Music and “Flaming Alphabet” Playlist on the PsychExFutureHeart YouTube channel – put it on autoplay and listen to the mix as if it were a radio station (minus those annoying DJs or commercials).  The playlist has been updated with the above videos added. 

Follow at twitter/FutureHeartDay  

The Beast and Wayne

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