Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Kim Dickens

Illustration for article titled Kim Dickens

The shuffler: Actress Kim Dickens, most recently seen on HBO’s Treme playing the embattled Chef Janette Desautel, though she’s also graced the small screen as Shelby Saracen on Friday Night Lights, Cassidy Phillips on Lost, and Joanie Stubbs on Deadwood, among others.


Roberta Flack, “Compared To What”

Kim Dickens: This is the coolest song ever. It’s an old one from her first record [First Take]. It’s kind of bluesy and jazzy, and it’s real ‘60s. It’s social commentary for the people. It’s totally the coolest song, or at least one of the coolest songs ever. Her vocals are so great and so pure. There’s none of that vocal acrobatics. She’s just singing it, and she’s got so much soul and passion.

The A.V. Club: Do you have a particular style of music you tend to lean toward, or a connecting thread, like, for example, really passionate artists?

KD: I’m a country girl. I like country music. I’m not going to lie. I’m from the South, and I grew up on it. My dad was a country singer-songwriter, so it’s in my blood and I love it. I don’t like all of the contemporary country. I like some of it, but I’m mostly into the traditional style. So, I do love country. At the same time, I’m all over the map. I like a lot of R&B and alternative. I’m a little more open-minded that way.

R. Kelly, “Ignition”

AVC: Speaking of R&B…

KD: This is such a good song. It’s awesome. I love R. Kelly. I don’t know what happened with his trial, though. I don’t condone any of that stuff. Was he innocent?


AVC: I think it just kind of went away.

KD: Well, that’s interesting. I love his music. I like that song he produced for Mariah Carey (“Touch My Body”). I don’t know much about him other than what was in the press about the trial, though.


AVC: “Ignition” is a really good song.

KD: It’s so sexy. It’s so fun to sing.

Pjork, “The Pjork Theme Song”

KD: Some friends and I did this sort of mock band and wrote mock songs. They’re all really dirty. Eliza Coupe and I came up with a band together with Jill Sobule and some other friends. We recorded these songs and they were awesome. We had a website, but we just never got around to releasing the songs. We just got other jobs.


AVC: What’s “The Pjork Theme Song” like?

KD: It’s basically just, “We are fucking Pjork. Get ready.” It could still come out. These are some dirty songs, though. I don’t know if I’m proud of them.


AVC: What’s the band’s style? Riot Grrrl?

KD: It’s a little bit more rock and thrashy. It’s garage.

AVC: Not what you’d expect from Jill Sobule.

KD: It’s definitely not earnest singer-songwriter. It was dirty for sure.

Vince Guaraldi Trio, “Christmas Time Is Here”

AVC: This is from A Charlie Brown Christmas, right?

KD: Yes! Who doesn’t love that, right? I have this whole soundtrack on my phone. I just dumped my whole computer on here because I’ve been travelling so much lately and I just carry my iPad and my iPhone now. So, you never know what you’re going to get.


Blondie, “Hanging On The Telephone”

KD: They’re so cool. It’s fun. I love all that early New York, ’70s New York feel. Blondie, I don’t know. She kicked it off for a lot of people, or at least a lot of girls. I remember waiting tables on her and it was always exciting when she came in the restaurant.


AVC: Where were you working?

KD: The Cowgirl Hall Of Fame in the West Village. If you know New York, you usually know that place. It’s super fun, and they have good margaritas and Southern food.


X, “Fourth Of July”

KD: I’m a huge fan of that band. It’s one of my top five favorite bands since about a million years ago. I didn’t know about them in the ’70s, and I think they started in the late ’70s, but I knew about them in the late ’80s. I think they’re just poets, and I love their vocals, and I love their music. I know John Doe now, too. I’m friends with him and that’s exciting.


AVC: John Doe and Exene are both doing kind of country stuff now, too.

KD: Yeah! All John’s solo stuff kind of leans country. He has the greatest vocals, with so much emotion.


AVC: Have you seen X?

KD: I just saw John Doe at City Winery in New York. It was packed.

AVC: Was that the tour he’s on with Jill Sobule?

KD: Yeah. They’re like chocolate and peanut butter. It’s awesome. They really work together. They’ve been friends for a long time.


AVC: So have you just seen him, or have you seen X too?

KD: I’ve seen X several times. It’s a really fun show. The songs are like, 2.5 minutes long. I love this song, though. Dave Alvin wrote it, right? It reminds me of L.A. It’s so amazing.


Edith Piaf, unknown song

KD: This is on a mix CD that someone made me. It’s called Frenchy 3. It sounds like Edith Piaf, doesn’t it? I’m not so schooled in her music, but I love to just put it on in the house. It’s so romantic and painful at the same time.


AVC: And you never know any of the words.

KD: It doesn’t matter. I feel it.

Wanda Jackson, “Nervous Breakdown”

KD: This is from that record she did with Jack White [The Party Ain’t Over]. It’s out of control. She’s in her seventies and she’s grinding it out.


AVC: How did you get into Wanda Jackson? Your country roots?

KD: If you went to school in Nashville, you were aware of all those ’60s rockabilly people. It was kind of cutting-edge back then. She was more risqué in her lyrics back then, too, and kind of sexy, but then she became Christian later on, did some Christian music and cleaned up her act. Now she’s back with Jack White.


AVC: Have you heard the record he did with Loretta Lynn?

KD: That’s probably one of my top five favorite records. I think it’s an incredible, incredible record. For her, she was in her seventies too when it was recorded, and the vocals are phenomenal. Her voice has held up so well, and she wrote with him. It’s all just hilarious and true. Loretta Lynn’s been writing her songs since she was young, like 14 or 15. That’s one of my favorite records, absolutely. Van Lear Rose. I love how she breaks off and tells a story in the middle of one of the songs. I guess my country’s showing up now.


“The Flesh Failures (Let The Sunshine In)” from the Broadway musical Hair

KD: This is from the Broadway show, not the movie. It’s my favorite musical.

AVC: Why?

KD: I don’t know. Just when I was getting out of acting school in New York, I was hanging out listening to the music of the ’70s, like Joni Mitchell and James Taylor, and Hair was right in that time period. I just saw it. The Public [Theater] did it for a 40-year anniversary. They first did it four years ago, but they brought it back on the 40th anniversary and I saw it in Central Park. It gave me chills. It’s just the music. It starts off with “Aquarius,” and they didn’t change the book much. It still resonates.


AVC: Would you want to be in a musical like Hair?

KD: I wish I was more of a song-and-dance girl. I sang in a show once. I wish I could be in Hair.


Unknown song from Baby Doll soundtrack

KD: Oh, this is from the Baby Doll soundtrack. Do you know Baby Doll? It’s a Tennessee Williams movie. It’s from the ’50s and it stars Caroll Baker, Eli Wallach, and Karl Malden. It’s kind of filthy. I think this movie spawned the ratings system. It’s an incredible movie, and the soundtrack’s so great. I recently realized I could get it on iTunes. It’s melodramatic, Southern, and Tennessee Williams-ish, and since I’m working on Treme and working in New Orleans, I love that.

Melanie, “Lay Down Candles In The Rain”

KD: She was singing for her generation. She’s cool. I think a lot of people know “Brand New Key,” but my favorite song of hers is “Beautiful People.” [Sings] “You ride on the same subway as I do.”


AVC: A lot of female artists have come up in your shuffle. Is that representative of what you listen to, or is that just a fluke?

KD: Probably true. They’re more fun to sing along with for me. I do have men in there, though, like John Doe and Ryan Adams and some other country people.