A Musical Montage, As Hosted By Guy Raz

On his last day as the host of weekends on All Things Considered before moving to NPR's TED Radio Hour, Guy Raz looks back at some of his memorable music interviews from the past 3 1/2 years.

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GUY RAZ, HOST:

Well, that's it. That is my last music interview for WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. When I came to the program three and a half years ago, that was one of the things I wanted on the show, an in-depth interview with a musician at the end of each hour. We thought we'd close out the show today with a look at some of our favorites, including this candid interview with Eminem back in 2010 who spoke about his struggles with substance abuse.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED INTERVIEW)

EMINEM: I actually overdosed in December of 2007. They actually said that had I got to the hospital two hours later that I would've died. It kind of scared the (bleep) out of myself.

RAZ: Earlier that year, producer Phil Harrell and I got to visit one of the godfathers of hip-hop, Gil Scott-Heron. We went to his home in Harlem. And just a few months later, he'd be gone, dead at the age of 62 after a life spent in and out of prison for the vices he swore he'd never give up.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED INTERVIEW)

GIL SCOTT-HERON: Look, I have not recovered from anything. I'd just - I did 18 months in one stretch and did a year one time. That's a small enough price to pay for all the crimes I committed. You know, they call it (unintelligible) every time they caught you, like I did a lot of (bleep) I shouldn't have done and do a lot of (bleep) nowadays. You know, if they catch me, I'm not going to be able to do that no more.

RAZ: Speaking of music legends, in 2009, I talked with Van Morrison. He was in Washington for a tour that revisited his epic 1968 album "Astral Weeks," an album routinely cited as one of the best of all time, yet his label almost pulled the plug on that recording session.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED INTERVIEW)

VAN MORRISON: Well, I just remember, like, I had to do this, and I needed to do it quick. Plus, I needed the advance. Then there was no follow-up, so it was basically like, yeah, it was a great session. Everybody agreed it was the best thing since sliced cheese. But there was like - there wasn't any follow-up. There was no money to put it on the road. And basically, it was just like, oh, yeah, well, that was that then, so let's move on. So that's what I did. I moved on.

RAZ: A year later, I sat down with the one and only Neil Diamond in New York, not too far from where both he and Barbra Streisand went to the same high school.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED INTERVIEW)

NEIL DIAMOND: We learned from the same choir master at Erasmus Hall High School in Brooklyn.

RAZ: Incredible.

DIAMOND: The girls loved him because he was a very handsome Italian man, and the boys were scared to death of him because he was tyrannical. And if you missed the note, you were out. So Mr. DiPietto(ph), thank you so much. Two of your students appreciate it and love you for it.

RAZ: We've tried to balance out the kind of music we feature - classical, rock, jazz, hip-hop, opera, and, of course, pop music.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WE ARE NEVER GETTING BACK TOGETHER")

TAYLOR SWIFT: (Singing) No. We are never, ever ever...

RAZ: Taylor Swift was as delightful as you'd expect.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED INTERVIEW)

SWIFT: Very prestigious. I'm very excited.

RAZ: And probably the biggest hit maker of this past summer, Carly Rae Jepsen told us how her song "Call Me Maybe" was being played in all sorts of places.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED INTERVIEW)

CARLY RAE JEPSEN: This is going to be kind of strange to say on radio, but we went to a - the strip club, believe it or not, and some girls got down and dirty to "Call Me Maybe."

RAZ: Carly Rae. Who knew?

JEPSEN: (LAUGHTER)

RAZ: Earlier this year, John Mayer sat down with us for what turned into an extraordinary hour-long conversation. He was contrite and truly sorry for racially insensitive and sexually provocative remarks he had made the previous year.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED INTERVIEW)

JOHN MAYER: I didn't want to be boring. I got in the worst trouble ever over and over again in my life from the time I was 4 until two years ago because I didn't want to be boring. The only thing you have to do is be honest. But I wasn't prepared to be honest. But I knew that I had to be open. When you're like, just open because you think you need to be but not honest, then you start sort of free-associating garbage.

RAZ: We featured more than 350 musicians or bands on this program over the past three and a half years, too many to describe here. One of my favorites was Andre Rieu, not even because of his music but because of his optimism and the moment of light he brought to this program last weekend in the midst of one of the worst tragedies in recent American history. Rieu is often called the King of the Waltz. And with a simple one-two-three, one-two-three, he brings entire stadiums - yes, stadiums - to their feet.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED INTERVIEW)

ANDRE RIEU: Then you see the whole audience starting to move and to smile and to dance and to love. And that's what I want to achieve.

RAZ: You can't imagine that happening in, like, I don't know, the Met or something, people dancing in the aisles.

RIEU: Why not?

RAZ: Well, yeah, but it just doesn't, right?

RIEU: No, because they don't play the waltzes like I do.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC, "ON THE BEAUTIFUL BLUE DANUBE")

RAZ: Just a quick note tonight to say good-bye. Three and a half years ago, I was given the amazing opportunity to spend my weekends with you, and it's been the most incredible period of my 15 years with NPR. So many of you have been so patient and generous with your response to the ways we changed the show.

Over the past few days, I've been moved and touched by your letters and your tweets. Why are you leaving us, many of you have asked. Well, for these past few years, while I loved being with all of you on the weekends, my family has also spent their weekends with me on the radio.

And now, it's time to give those weekends back. I will be back on the radio in early March as the new host of NPR's collaboration with the people behind TEDTalks. The show is called the TED Radio Hour, and it will be awesome. So please tune in.

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