The shuffler: Charlie Day, who portrays It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia’s perpetually unkempt, possibly illiterate Paddy’s Pub co-owner Charlie Kelly. The FX show is currently halfway through its sixth season.
Patsy Cline, “Why Can’t He Be You”
Charlie Day: I am a Patsy Cline fan. I must have downloaded a greatest hits or something. They all sound pretty similar.
The A.V. Club: Do you download a lot of country?
CD: I’m really into everything, you know? Something I’ve been asked throughout the years I’ve done the show is, “What kind of music are you into?” I find that to be a bizarre question, because it implies there are people out there that are only into one specific kind of music. But I think I, like most people, enjoy a wide variety of music. Yeah, I like some country stuff—old country stuff. I might not enjoy Billy Ray Cyrus or anything. But, you know, Patsy Cline, Willie Nelson, early Johnny Cash—absolutely.
AVC: Are people asking about you, or your character?
CD: My character is a whole different answer, but they’re asking about me. I think it’s a weird question to be asked, “What kind of music are you into?” I mean, are you only into a certain kind of music? Or are you into a huge variety of music?
AVC: I think once you’re done with high school, that question no longer defines you as a person.
CD: [Laughs.] Yeah. I was going to say, maybe I didn’t realize that was behind the question—defining me as a person.
Duke Ellington, “Cotton Tail”
CD: I especially like Duke Ellington jazz, which is a little more… I lived in New York for a while. I lived in Harlem for a bit, and I just fell in love with the idea of that era of New York, that jazz era, especially jazz in Harlem. So then I started collecting all that music. On my new computer with my recent downloads, Duke Ellington is right at the top of things I wanted on there.
Bob Dylan, “Hurricane”
CD: There’s a classic. It’s a long song.
AVC: Do you prefer his shorter stuff, or are you always down for a long protest song?
CD: Well, I think “Hurricane” is the kind of thing where you start listening to it, and you’re like, “Ah, yeah! Here it goes. He’s telling a great story of a serious injustice.” Then after six and a half minutes into the song, you’re like, “God, this is a long story! I mean, wrap it up.”
AVC: Have you ever seen him live?
CD: I’ve never seen him live. I would love to see him live. Although I kind of have this thing—there’s a time to see certain musicians, I feel like, and a time not to. Occasionally it can be a little disappointing to see rock gods in their 60s or 70s up on stage. The Paul McCartney concert when he was out here? He was great. He was absolutely great. But not seeing someone in their era, sometimes it’s better to just listen to—I don’t know? I guess it’s good to go to the concerts.
Van Morrison, “Into The Mystic”
CD: All right. That, I actually downloaded because my friend Jason Sudeikis was singing it at karaoke one night. I sorta forgot how good that song was, so I downloaded it. I don’t do [karaoke] a lot, but I do enjoy it when I do it.
AVC: What do you tend to sing?
CD: I go back and forth between Zeppelin—I sing a lot of Zeppelin—and Bob Seger.
The Creole Zydeco Farmers, “Creole Farmers Stomp”
CD: I don’t even know this one. No, I know this. My wife is from Laurel, Mississippi, and she has a lot of relatives down in Louisiana, Baton Rouge, and Shreveport, Louisiana. We go down there a lot. We got married in New Orleans. She has a cousin who introduced me to swamp pop, which is sort of zydeco/Cajun music with a little uptempo pop swing. Now I’m a big zydeco fan, I’m a big swamp-music fan. [Laughs.] I can’t remember, there was one called “Big Butt Women” or something. It’s my favorite. [Laughs.] I’ve started to collect zydeco swamp music. I love it. It’s a lot of accordion rock.
Claude Debussy, “Clair De Lune”
AVC: I think every one we’ve done has been in a different genre so far.
CD: Well, you can see the offense I take when people ask what kind of music I listen to.
AVC: Are you a classical connoisseur, or are there just certain composers you gravitate to?
CD: I am a classical fan. I like Debussy a lot, so I was trying to learn it on the piano. Actually, there’s a YouTube instructor who really breaks it down in an amazing way. He goes slow, and it’s really simple. So I figure I’d also download it to double-check with the actual version, how to get it and how to get the tempo. I’ve learned like a third of it, but I think I’m getting to a section that may be beyond my skill level.
AVC: Did you take piano lessons growing up?
CD: I took some, yeah, but then I rebelled against it as a kid. Later in life, I started to fool around on the piano. Now, I try to get back into maybe learning a little bit more than the few things I know and have been repeating for years.
AVC: What are some of the things you know and have been repeating?
CD: Just certain chords. There’s music on Sunny that I’ve written on the piano, but it’s basically just based off certain chords and techniques. None of it’s a song. I don’t know any songs. People have asked me to play a song, and I say, “I don’t know anything.”
AVC: People are just always constantly demanding things from you.
CD: People are demanding so much of me. [Laughs.] They really want to pigeonhole me.
AVC: When you rebelled against piano as a kid, were the lessons something your parents influenced you to do?
CD: Both of my parents are actually music teachers. I think I got to a certain age where I decided I’d rather be a baseball player than a musician. Now, like most kids, I regret it.
Ice Cube, “The Predator”
CD: We’re all over the place. This is pretty funny. We’re everywhere. I was just reminded of how I much I used to like Ice Cube in high school… I guess I’m dating myself. But I loved that album. My friend used to play it a lot as we drove around in his giant Pontiac Bonneville. Actually, I hadn’t owned it in years, and I was thinking of it recently, so I downloaded it.
AVC: Did you and your friend ever drive around and just freestyle with each other? Just make stuff up?
CD: [Laughs.] No. I attempted to at certain points of time, but I wasn’t quick enough. I used to improvise songs on the guitar. I was quick as a whip. But I think when it came to hip-hop… I don’t know. Maybe I was insecure. You know, this is the early ’90s. If you were a white guy, and you were rapping, that wasn’t as accepted yet. I was scared of the quiet Northeast suburbs, so I couldn’t embrace my full rapper self.
Queen, “Don’t Stop Me Now”
CD: Perfect. Perfect. We’ve been all over the place. But I love Queen. [Laughs.] Not all of it. Some of it, I can’t get into. But “Don’t Stop Me Now” is a pretty hilarious song. It’s a good pick-me-up in the car. Actually, we did an episode on Always Sunny where we had a dance-off, and I wanted to do it to that song. Ultimately, I think we wound up with something from Top Gun. [“Take My Breath Away.”] But originally, it was “Don’t Stop Me Now.” I think we did a few takes where I was dancing to that and almost lost my lunch, because it’s an upbeat song.