Jack Antonoff Just Doesn’t Want To Be Involved


one. “Martha” by Tom Waits

I’ve never missed more in a song. There are a lot of songs about love and regret and a lot of sad chords. And then every once in a while you hear something much greater than the sum of its parts. I had a girlfriend in high school and she wore “Foreign Affairs” and we kissed. This song is not on that album, but I fell in love with his voice and when that relationship ended, I took Tom Waits with me.

2. John F. Kennedy Souvenirs

There are many around my house. Growing up, we had this bust of JFK; I don’t know where my father got it. Then I started collecting JFK busts and all these great JFK talk compilation LPs. There is a very heavy cultural context that comes with that, suggesting a lot of hopeful, tragic, weird elements of what it is to be an American. It has become a really interesting symbol for me in its complexity.

3. “The Ben Stiller Show”

It was a sketch show ahead of its time on MTV with Ben Stiller, Andy Dick, Bob Odenkirk, and Janeane Garofalo. I see this as the architecture of far more bizarre comedies that have really become popular in the last 10 years. And it’s culturally unrecognizable in the way you might put it into a conversation like “Kids in the Hall” or Upright Citizens Brigade or even “The State” – things that people have context for.

4. Martin Ramírez

It was part of a field of foreign artists. There is a great book called “American Self Taught” that highlights many of these things: Henry Darger, Bill Traylor, William Hawkins. All these artists mean a lot to me, because there is something truly incredible about seeing work that no one asks anyone else to do. It just comes from the desire to do. Martín Ramírez had some real mental health issues; I don’t have much in common with him or his story, but when I look at it his jobIt really feels like the inside of your brain.

5. Spell: Gathering

A few years ago my manager and I were passing by this comic book store. Everyone bought Magic cards when I was growing up – at least in my Jewish New Jersey corner, that was very important. We went in and started talking to this guy behind the counter who spoke really nicely about Magic. So we bought some cards and started playing and became obsessed with it. There’s an art to putting your deck together. It’s a crazy meditation on your life: You make these choices and you put all these theories and roadmaps into it, but then you shuffle your deck and hope that one of them will yield results. It’s a beautiful game that requires so much of your intelligence and soul. And I just scratched the surface. But it’s fun to be a part of something you can never end. This is how I feel about music: The goal is not to master it, the goal is to be a part of it.


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