In Random Rules, we ask our favorite rockers, writers, comedians, or whatevers to set their MP3 players to “shuffle” and comment on the first few tracks that come up—no cheating or skipping allowed.
The Shuffler: Mad Men star and most handsome man in the world Jon Hamm is practically ubiquitous these days—and that’s not a bad thing. He pops up on podcasts, does voiceovers on car commercials, and stars in movies like Friends With Kids, which is out now on DVD and Blu-ray. The A.V. Club snagged a few minutes of his time to talk about what’s on his iPod, including Fleetwood Mac, Sinéad O’Connor, and a lot of comedy.
Jimmy Pardo, “Phone Lady”
Jon Hamm: I listen to a lot of comedy. I just like it. I find it funny; I find it fun. That’s the great thing about iTunes: Not to turn this into a commercial for iTunes, but if you hear about a comic you like, you go—boom—you have it immediately. Like, I bought John Mulaney’s CD—[mocking self] “CD”?—album, whatever, and guys like Jimmy and Paul F. Tompkins and Patton [Oswalt] and people like that. It’s all so easy to get and to laugh at.
The A.V. Club: John Mulaney’s record is super-funny.
JH: Oh my God, it’s amazing.
AVC: He does a bit about the Salt & Pepper Diner—
JH: “[The Best Meal Ever],” I believe, is the name of that bit, and it’s very funny. And one of my favorites is the titular bit about “New In Town”—that one made me laugh a lot.
Flight Of The Conchords, “The Most Beautiful Girl [In The Room]”
JH: This is going to turn into a comedy thing. No, I promise there will be actual music. I do own music, I swear to God.
AVC: Flight Of The Conchords is musical.
JH: This is a perfect combination. I actually saw their HBO special before they had a show, and made a friend of mine come over and watch it with me. I was like, “These guys are super-funny.” And they reminded me a lot of Tenacious D, in a way, because they’re crazy-good musicians. They’re virtuoso-level musicians that also just happen to be really, really funny. So that was a cool discovery.
Sinéad O’Connor, “Troy”
JH: I think this is off her first record. Let me do some Googling.
AVC: Yes, it is. She was 20.
JH: She didn’t do “Troy,” but I think she did “Mandinka” on the Grammys, or something, and it was like this beautiful, bald Irish thing came out with this crazy voice, and she sang this amazing song, and I was like, “Who was that?” And I remember downloading music at one point and wanting to hear that song, and just buying the whole record because I remember liking it so much back in the ’80s.
AVC: Did it pay off?
JH: It’s still a pretty good record, I have to say.
JH: Older record as well. I think I got this because, about 10 years ago, they started releasing collections of music-video directors’ work. It was like Spike Jonze, Mark Romanek—all those cool video directors, all their work. It was super-cool. In fact, I wonder if I have those DVDs here in this apartment. Oh, I do, yeah—Michel Gondry, that was another one. It was Palm Directors Label, that’s what they called it. And one of the directors they had, whose name is unfortunately escaping me right now, he directed a lot of the Aphex Twin videos, and he directed a lot of Björk videos, and he directed a lot of Portishead stuff, and I think this song’s video.
AVC: Chris Cunningham? He did “Only You” from ’98, which is Portishead, but he didn’t do “Biscuit,” because this album came out in ’94. He only started doing videos in ’96.
JH: You’re right—it was “Only You.” But it reminded me—whatever, this is another commercial for iTunes—but it’s like, whenever you see something like that or hear something like that, you’re like, “Oh my God, I love those guys. And that crazy girl’s voice was cool.” So download I did.
Iron & Wine, “Woman King”
JH: Somebody got me into Iron & Wine. I really got deep into that, and bought like two or three of his albums. I love the guy’s sound. It just sounds really neat. That was another one of those things where I literally heard one song and was like, “Oops, now I have 30.”
Patton Oswalt, “Alternate Earth”
JH: Back to comedy. I absolutely love Patton. I think he is a unique voice in that world, and have been a fan of his for a really long time. Whatever he puts out, I try to consume. Whether it’s movies, comedy, writing, blogging—I just very much like his stuff. In fact, I think I was on your website the other day… Stand Down? Is that you guys?
AVC: It is.
JH: I watched that the other day and laughed about his magic Negro.
AVC: It’s super-funny. This whole series is going to be really good. Maria Bamford is up next.
JH: I tried to click on the Maria Bamford one, but it wasn’t up yet. I was very much looking forward to her, because I think I’ve heard her tell that story before, and I absolutely love Maria. She is another super-unique, cool, lovely, nice lady.
Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, “I Put A Spell On You”
JH: Here’s another outlier. Off of some giant compilation—Sony Music 100 Years: R&B—From Doo-Wop To Hip-Hop. That might have been something I downloaded to send to somebody. I don’t know.
AVC: Screamin’ Jay Hawkins is a total character.
JH: Maybe I was making a Halloween mix. I don’t know.
Minnie Riperton, “Lovin’ You”
JH: Here’s a bit of an outlier. I downloaded this because we had Maya [Rudolph] in our film, Friends With Kids. First of all, it’s a beautiful song sung by a beautiful lady, who happens to be Maya Rudolph’s mom. And the story goes that she was either pregnant or just had had Maya when she recorded this song, and so, at the very end, if you listen really, really hard, she apparently says, “Maya, Maya, Maya.” So I thought that was a lovely story. Whether or not it’s true, I have no idea. But I love Maya Rudolph, and I love that song.
AVC: Did she tell you that story, or did you read it somewhere?
JH: I don’t know if she told me that story. Now that I’m surging into my 40s, I tend to forget things at an alarming [rate], so I don’t remember if she told me that or if I read it online somewhere. It does sound a little Wikipedia-ish, to be honest.
Jay-Z, “What More Can I Say”
JH: This is a little bit of an outlier as well. But I’m looking through my iPod, and I have a lot of Jay-Z, in fact. He’s really good. I’m a big fan. I’ve had two instances in my life—actually three instances in my life, but two instances in a far more random circumstance—where I’ve met Jay-Z, and both of them have been in elevators. They were weirdly, like, two months apart. I was in New York City and going down an elevator when the elevator stopped, and Jay-Z got on. This was a long time ago. It was pre-Beyoncé. And definitely pre-Mad Men. It’s weird, because he’s a big dude, too. He’s a fairly tall guy, and it’s kind of like, “Hey, wow, I know you.” And I think I was probably super-nervous and nerdy and said something like, “I’m a big fan of your work.” And he was very polite. And then we rode the elevator down the rest of the way, and then he got out and walked to the curb and got in a powder-blue Bentley. And I walked to the corner and got on the subway.
Fleetwood Mac, “Don’t Stop”
JH: This is a perfect 41-year-old white-guy song to end on. Bill Clinton’s favorite song. It’s the perfect end to this ridiculous mix of songs. But I do really like Fleetwood Mac. I unapologetically like those guys. I have a very soft spot in my heart for all late-’70s/early-’80s popular music, whether it’s Steely Dan or Fleetwood Mac or fill-in-the-blank. It was the formative years of my life, and I unapologetically, lustily celebrate it. So there.
AVC: Did you fall for Stevie Nicks or Christine McVie?
JH: I mean, forget about it. Stevie Nicks, you know? There’s a lot of scarves. She had a cool voice. And I just love Lindsey Buckingham’s work on “What Up With That?” What can I say?