CNN interviewed Chris about his new late night television spot   His new show finds him in late-night territory as he interviews and performs with fellow musicians like Trisha Yearwood, Michael Buble’ and Smashing Pumpkins.

CNN: What do you like about interviewing musicians?


Chris Isaak: Well, for one thing, I get to meet a lot of musicians … that I really admire. Glen Campbell is somebody who I grew up watching on TV, and I always thought he was talented. And there I am, jamming with Glen Campbell!

[Trisha] Yearwood, Stevie Nicks, Michael Buble’, Chicago, Cat Stevens, Smashing Pumpkins … Every week was like Christmas for me. Well, a terrifying Christmas, because I had to interview people, and I was always worried that I wouldn’t be prepared. But we share a lot of the same background.

CNN: But you still had to do your homework, didn’t you?

Isaak: I did, because I don’t want to be that guy that goes on TV and goes, ” ‘Caught in the Flames’ … that’s a funny name for the title of an album.” And they go, “My family burned to death in that fire.” And you go, “Oh, I guess I should’ve read the notes.”

CNN: Have you been asked stupid questions like that before?

Isaak: When people ask me really stupid questions or get it really wrong, I feel embarrassed for them. I don’t really feel angry at them. Usually the questions I get are, “You look a bit like Elvis. Do you like Elvis?”

CNN: What did you learn about [Yusuf Islam, once known as Cat Stevens]? Anything surprising?

Isaak: Yeah, he has a sense of humor. To a lot of people, when they hear somebody’s religious or they’ve given their life up to search for something bigger than rock ‘n’ roll, people are scared by that, and they walk softly around that person. They think, “Are they going to take offense?” But Cat Stevens was pretty mellow.

His first hit was “I Love my Dog.” And I said “Will you sing it to Rodney?” And he did. If that isn’t a sense of humor, I don’t know what is. He’s a nice guy.

CNN: Unlike Elvis Costello’s talk show on the Sundance Channel, you do yours without a live audience. Why is that?

Isaak: We’re just like Elvis Costello’s show, actually. I do his mannerisms and everything. We’re just like Elvis’ show, only cheaper!

CNN: So that’s why there isn’t an audience?

Isaak: No. Elvis Costello is a genius. I think people would say musically, he’s a genius. And I think when the network hired me to do my show, we wanted to cover that other ground. So he’s got the genius area covered, and I do the other stuff.

CNN: The non-genius stuff.

Isaak: Yeah, I’d be the non-genius.

CNN: What is the toughest thing about being in the music business right now?

Isaak: There’s not a damn thing tough about it. That’s why I called my album “Mr. Lucky.” Maybe this isn’t the height of the music business. Everybody’s having a tough time, economics are bad all over. But it’s a wonderful job, and it’s been so cushy compared to other things I could’ve done.

CNN: So what do you like about this album?

Isaak: Well, I better like it. I wrote all the songs! I think it’s a good record. It’s got pretty love songs, and it’s got upbeat songs and positive stuff. And you put it on and go about 90 miles an hour, and it’ll take you for a long, beautiful ride.

CNN: Are you a hopeless romantic?

Isaak: No I’m a hopeful romantic. In a couple of drinks, I’ll be a lucky romantic. That’s why they call me Mr. Lucky.

CNN: Were you surprised when “Baby Did a Bad, Bad Thing” was used in “Eyes Wide Shut”?

Isaak: I found out about it because I was doing … “The Tonight Show” and somebody called and said, “There’s a film director who wants to use your song, and he needs to know very soon.” And I go, “What’s the film?” And he said, “I don’t have the name.” I said, “Can you send me the script?” “No.”

I said, “Well, who’s the director?” “A guy named Kubrick.” I go, “Stanley Kubrick?” “Yeah.” I said, “Say yes!” That’s all I needed to know.

But later on I heard that it was Nicole Kidman who actually was the one who helped get that song out there. She was going to do a love scene … kind of a naked seduction dance. And they said, “What would you feel comfortable dancing to?” And she said “Baby Did a Bad, Bad Thing.” I was disappointed because … I would’ve gone down during that scene and played for free. Because that’s the kind of a guy I am. A heart as big as a jail. Always supporting the arts.

If you are anything like me, you zoned out halfway through this interview. Im really hoping his show isn’t the same snoozefest.

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