In Your Ear: DeMaurice Smith

The NFL season starts tonight with a game between the Green Bay Packers and the New Orleans Saints. DeMaurice Smith, executive director of the NFL Players Association, shares some of his favorite songs, including those from Jay Z, Rihanna and Kanye West.

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MICHEL MARTIN, host: And finally, we have the latest installment of our occasional series In Your Ear. That's where we asked some of our guests about the songs that inspire them. Tonight, the Green Bay Packers take on the New Orleans Saints, marking the official start of the National Football League's new season. And so we'd like to offer a soundtrack to help you get your football party started.

DeMaurice Smith is the executive director of the National Football League Players Association. He spoke to us this summer about his role in resolving the league's labor dispute. After the interview, Smith told us about some of the music that helped get him through those tough days of negotiations.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MOMENT OF CLARITY")

DEMAURICE SMITH: Hi, this is the DeMaurice Smith and this is what's playing in my ear.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MOMENT OF CLARITY")

JAY-Z: (Unintelligible)...

SMITH: Certainly Jay-Z's "Moment of Clarity."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MOMENT OF CLARITY")

JAY-Z: (Rapping) Thank God for granting me this moment of clarity. This moment of honesty. The world'll feel my truth (unintelligible)...

SMITH: For me a song that talks about asking the man upstairs to clear your mind, to speak truth, to make sure that people and the folks around you understand what you're trying to accomplish. Plus it's just the beat that you just have to dig.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MOMENT OF CLARITY")

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ALL OF THE LIGHTS")

KANYE WEST: (Singing) All of the lights. All of the lights.

SMITH: Other song that we use around here, especially when we're getting ready for press conferences, is Kanye's and Rihanna's "All of the Lights."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ALL OF THE LIGHTS")

RIHANNA: (Singing) Turn up the lights in here, baby. Extra bright, I want y'all to see this. Turn up the lights in here, baby. You know what I need. Want you to see everything. Want you to see all of the lights.

SMITH: Again, it's about turning it up, kicking it up a notch, making sure that all of us are on our best game. That song is just one of those things that just makes you want to stand up and go. And I just love the way - the interplay between Rihanna and Kanye. He's such a brilliant artist. His ability to connect disparate pieces of thought is something that I've always been a fan. And Rihanna's voice is - can catapult you forward. That's what I dig.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ALL OF THE LIGHTS")

WEST: (Rapping) Baby please, can't let her grow up in that ghetto university. All of the lights. Cop lights, flash lights, spot lights, strobe lights, street lights.

RIHANNA: (Singing) All of the lights. All of the lights.

WEST: (Rapping) Fast life, drug life, thug life, rock life, every night, all of the lights.

RIHANNA: (Singing) Turn up the lights in here, baby. Extra bright, I want y'all to see this. Turn up the lights in here, baby. You know what I need. Want you to see everything. Want you to see all of the lights.

SMITH: But then there's that time when I just need to chill and the song that probably gets burned up more than anything else on my playlist is "Sweet Black Angel" by Buddy Guy. I mean I know the song doesn't actually last for 45 minutes, but by the time you get through the song, I don't care where you have started, you are not in the same place when that song ends.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SWEET BLACK ANGEL")

BUDDY GUY: (Singing) I've got a sweet little angel and I love the way she spreads her wings.

SMITH: It is just a song that Drips up blues tune and key that allows you to slide your way into the song, sit back, let the song carry you wherever you need to be, so by the time I get home, I'm in the right frame of mind.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SWEET BLACK ANGEL")

GUY: (Singing) Oh, when you spread your wings around me, you know I get joy in everything.

MARTIN: That was DeMaurice Smith, executive director of the NFL Players Association telling us what's playing in his ear. To hear our previous conversation with Mr. Smith, please go to npr.org and select TELL ME MORE from the Programs page.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SWEET BLACK ANGEL")

GUY: (Singing) ...ask my baby for a nickel.

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