Winter Songs: On Parents And Children

For our series "Winter Songs," Robert Siegel and Lynn Neary read letters from listeners. We hear two very different stories involving parents and children.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

The airwaves are fairly saturated this week with tunes about sleigh bells, reindeer and Saint Nick. We're not going to add to that. Instead, we're going to share some of the winter songs that you've been sending us, songs that evoke memories of cold weather and family.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WHITE WINTER HYMNAL")

LYNN NEARY, HOST:

This is "White Winter Hymnal" by the Seattle band, Fleet Foxes. And it's the choice of Jo Ella James of Bastrop, Texas, who writes this. I left sunny Southern California to live in North Idaho when I was pregnant with my daughter. A California girl raising a young child in the snows of the Idaho Panhandle was about as magical as it could have been.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WHITE WINTER HYMNAL")

NEARY: Jo Ella continues: We discovered the wonders of winter together. It was such a sweet time of bundling up and mittens connected by long strings keeping them in coat sleeves and, yes, red scarves because they were easiest to find, just like strawberries in the summertime.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WHITE WINTER HYMNAL")

FLEET FOXES: (Singing) With scarves of red tied 'round their throats to keep their little heads from falling in the snow and I turned 'round and there you go. And, Michael, you would fall and turn the white snow red as strawberries in summertime.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ROLL ON 18 WHEELER")

ALABAMA: (Singing) Roll on, highway. Roll on along. Roll on, daddy, 'til you get back home.

SIEGEL: Now, on to a big rig with both feet on the floor to a story that sounds as if it inspired this country music hit, Alabama's "Roll On 18-Wheeler."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ROLL ON (18-WHEELER)")

ALABAMA: (Singing) Well, it's Monday morning. He's kissing momma goodbye. He's up and gone with the sun. Daddy drives an 18-wheeler and he's off on a Midwest run.

SIEGEL: It's a trucking song about a driver who goes missing during a snowstorm. Joyce Overly of Brookville, Pennsylvania says a similar thing happened three decades ago when she was a child and that's why "Roll On" is her winter song.

Overly writes: Just as in the song, my dad left for his job as a truck driver hauling a load west on the Ohio Turnpike. Then the blizzard hit. And she continues: Being young, I didn't think my brother and I even realized at first that dad was late in coming home from his run. My mom, although I'm sure she was worried, didn't let on much, either. It wasn't until my dad called home a couple of days into the storm that she told us what had happened. He had been stranded in his truck on a desolate part of the Ohio Turnpike for 30 hours. All he'd had to eat was a sandwich and melted snow to drink.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ROLL ON (18-WHEELER)")

ALABAMA: (Singing) And when the call came in, it was Daddy on the other end, asking her if she had been singing the song, singing roll on highway. Roll on along. Roll on, daddy, 'til you get back home.

NEARY: And daddies make way for mommas.

SIEGEL: We always do.

NEARY: With our last winter song choice, one that's sure to bring back memories for many Gen Xers.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LIFE IN A NORTHERN TOWN")

DREAM ACADEMY: (Singing) The Salvation Army band played and the children drunk lemonade and the morning lasted all day, all day.

NEARY: That's Dream Academy's "Life in a Northern Town." And for Tom Davis of Buffalo, it takes him back to 1985 when he joined the Army fresh out of high school. He writes, I made it through basic. And by mid-November, I was sent to Augusta, Georgia, Fort Gordon, for advanced training.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LIFE IN A NORTHERN TOWN")

ACADEMY: (Singing) Hey, oh, ma, ma, ma.

NEARY: I will never forget the young, naive nostalgia of hearing that song on the mess hall PA in the weeks leading up to Christmas, images of snow and mama in the alien world of a young boy locked in a Georgia winter. I missed snow, I missed home, I missed my northern hometown. I thought a, hey, oh, mama was, I held mama, which as a soldier facing who knows what, I wanted to hear and do.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LIFE IN A NORTHERN TOWN")

ACADEMY: (Singing) Hey, oh, ma, ma, ma. Hey, oh, ma, ma, ma. Hey, ah, life in a northern town. Hey, ma, ma, ma, ma. Hey, oh, ma, ma, ma.

SIEGEL: Keep your winter song stories coming. You can write to us at NPR.org. Click on Contact Us at the bottom of the page and make sure to put Winter Songs in your subject line.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LIFE IN A NORTHERN TOWN")

ACADEMY: (Singing) Hey, oh, ma, ma, ma. Hey, oh, ma, ma, ma.

NEARY: You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.

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