We asked Jeff Goldblum to pick songs for his funeral. Instead, he sang them

By
Photography Craig McDean

Published March 22, 2018

PHOTOGRAPHY BY CRAIG MCDEAN

Jeff Goldblum’s deep, silky voice gets hairs to stand on end and panties to drop. Even his purr of a laugh is endlessly replayable. So imagine the excitement when the actor hopped on the phone with us to deliver what was supposed to be a candid selection of songs that would play at his funeral, but instead turned into an impromptu karaoke session of Goldblum’s favorite tunes—the mixtape of the century.

His career touchstones include the original Jurassic Park [1993] and David Cronenberg’s sci-fi thriller The Fly [1986]. Most recently, Goldblum voices Duke in Wes Anderson’s poignant stop-motion animated film, Isle of Dogs, wherein an evil mayor exiles all the sick canines of Japan to a toxic landfill.

But Goldblum also puts those vocal cords to use as the frontman of a jazz group—Jeff Goldblum and The Mildred Snitzer Orchestra—which plays at Los Angeles’s Rockwell every week and apparently has an album forthcoming in the not-so-distant future. So, if the anticipation is too much, here’s a raw taste of Goldblum belting it out.

“SPRING IS HERE,” PERFORMED BY DOROTHY COLLINS

JEFF GOLDBLUM: If I were to die right now—which who knows, we don’t know that we’re not going to—It would be something about spring, you know that song—”Spring is Here”? I like that one. There’s one called “Joy Spring,” that’s a lovely jazz tune that many people will know. I’m trying to think—I like that first song that I sang, “It Might As Well Be Spring,” is the name of that, Astrud Gilberto does a beautiful version of it.

“WE’LL MEET AGAIN,” VERA LYNN

GOLDBLUM: I’d do “Close to You” by the Carpenters That one is nice, you know why? I like how it’s used in that movie, The Heartbreak Kid. The original one, with Charles Grodin, and Jeannie Berlin, and Cybill Shepherd. The other song that’s on my mind now is Willie Nelson’s September Song. Isn’t that nice? I like that song, and I also like that song that they play at the end of Dr. Strangelove—Vera Lynn’s “We’ll Meet Again”—as the atom bomb is going off. I love that song. I like the context, I like Vera Lynn singing it, I like it in that context of the whole movie, of course, it’s a darkly ironic thing as mad people, mad governmental, political people, and military people have destroyed the entire human race and planet. Oh, it’s great. Kubrick was a genius.

“EMILY,” TONY BENNETT

GOLDBLUM: I’m married to a woman named Emilie, Emilie, now Goldblum, used to be Emilie Livingston, not Goldblum. And there’s a song that Tony Bennett sings, “Emily,” it’s a jazz standard. I sang a little bit of that at our wedding. . And I also sang a snippet at our wedding during my vows of that little song that I like from The Sound of Music. Oh my gosh, it breaks me up. It says, “Here you are standing here, loving me,” but I don’t know why I deserve this, but “somewhere in my youth or childhood, I must have done something good.” You know that’s a sweet, it’s a very sweet song. I love that. And then I sang to her, on our wedding day, a song called “A Kiss” [by Mario Lanza], nobody knows this song.

“MY BUDDY,” DORIS DAY

GOLDBLUM: Oh, and a song that reminds me of my pet. Well, let’s see, there’s a beautiful song. You know, since [Isle of Dogs] says that they’re, of course, man and woman’s best friend. There’s a song called “My Buddy”—and one of my dogs that I had once was called Buddy. That makes me think of the little doggy. Buddy was a black lab mix. I now have Woody, he’s this red-haired, kind of apricot-colored standard poodle. A big poodle. And he’s very good, I got a couple of kids, a two-and-a-half year old boy named Charlie Ocean and an 11-month-old boy named River Joe, and they love him and jump all over him and love him up to death, and he’s very protective of them and doesn’t use his big, powerful, athletic body to do anything but protect them. And he’s very, very good.

“LITTLE MAN YOU’VE HAD A BUSY DAY,” PERRY COMO

GOLDBLUM: Well, of course there is, let me see, Perry Como’s “Little Man You’ve Had a Busy Day.” Isn’t that a sweet song? It choked me up just as I was singing it. I sing it for my children here and there. And yes, all this business of me dying, that would be good, like “Little man you’ve had a busy day,” that’s kind of a death song. Like, can you hear the bugle softly play? That’s pretty good. I like that song, Oh Danny Boy, that’s about a dead child. How about that Al Jonson’s “Sonny Boy”? That would be good. His child dies in that, Tim Robbins, who I just saw the other day at South by Southwest. He came to the screening of Isle of Dogs, he starred in Jacob’s Ladder, and Macaulay Caulkin, he plays his little boy, dies and he keeps dreaming about him, and he keeps singing that song to himself. Oh my God, so sad.

ISLE OF DOGS HITS THEATERS ON MARCH 23, 2018.