Al Roker 'Jazzed' By The A-Team Theme Song

When NBC Today show weatherman Al Roker needs to get pumped up for his work day, he turns to the theme song for the television show The A-Team. During Tell Me More's 'In Your Ear' series, Roker shares why the song, and Mister T, get him 'jazzed.'

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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

We'd like to end today's program with a feature we call In Your Ear. That's where we ask some of our guests what they're listening to these days. And today, we have the personal playlist of "Today Show" weatherman and feature reporter Al Roker. We caught up with him recently to talk about his book "Never Goin' Back," where he talks about his lifelong struggle with his weight. After our interview, he stuck around to tell us some of the songs that keep them going.

AL ROKER: When I get up in the morning and I have to get jazzed up, I rely on one of the greatest TV themes ever written. It is the theme to "The A-Team." It starts off with an instrumental bed. It's got a great narrative in the beginning.

(SOUNDBITE OF THEME SONG, "THE A-TEAM" TV SHOW)

(SOUNDBITE OF MACHINE GUN)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: In 1972, a crack commando unit was sent to prison by a military court for a crime they didn't commit. These men promptly...

AL ROKER AND UNIDENTIFIED MAN: ...escaped from a maximum security stockade to the Los Angeles underground. Today, still wanted by the government, they survive as soldiers of fortune. If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire The A-Team.

(SOUNDBITE OF MACHINE GUN)

ROKER: And then it goes into a terrific kind of quasi-military march.

(SOUNDBITE OF THEME SONG, "THE A-TEAM" TV SHOW)

ROKER: And you can't help but be jazzed which, of course, Mr. T always talked about George Peppard's character, John "Hannibal" Smith. He goes: Ah, Hannibal's on the jazz, man. He's on the jazz.

(SOUNDBITE OF THEME SONG, "THE A-TEAM" TV SHOW)

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "FINGERTIPS PART TWO")

STEVIE WONDER: (Singing) Everybody say yeah. Yeah.

ROKER: Another group of songs that would be playing in my ear, anything by Stevie Wonder.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "FINGERTIPS PART TWO")

UNIDENTIFIED CHILDREN: (Singing) Yeah.

WONDER: (Singing) Say, yeah.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILDREN: (Singing) Yeah.

WONDER: (Singing) Yeah.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILDREN: (Singing) Yeah.

WONDER: (Singing) Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

ROKER: I am of a certain age and I remember Stevie Wonder - Little Stevie Wonder - when he played "Fingertips Part Two."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "FINGERTIPS PART TWO")

WONDER: (Singing) Just a little bit of sou-ou-ou-ou-oul. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Clap your hands just a little bit louder. Clap your hands just a little bit louder.

And, of course, if you're of that certain age you remember hearing that song on a transistor radio. And then for the next 25 years, I always felt bad for an artist at the Grammys if he or she were in the same category as Stevie Wonder, because you may as well not have even shown up.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "FINGERTIPS PART TWO")

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "PHILADELPHIA FREEDOM")

ROKER: Another grouping of songs - and one in particular by this artist - is playing in my ear. And that's Elton John. I love Elton John. There was a certain amount of whimsy about him. Really? That's an understatement.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "PHILADELPHIA FREEDOM")

ELTON JOHN: (Singing) I used to be a rolling stone, you know, if a cause was right. I'd leave to find the answer on the road.

ROKER: My favorite Elton John song, it came out in March of 1974, "Philadelphia Freedom." I was a sophomore in college in 1974 and my mom had gotten sick, and I'm the oldest of six. Anyway, he was two and a half years old and I took him to college with me and that song was on the radio and I had it on a cassette. And I played it in my car, I played it in my room constantly. My brother was staying with me for three weeks. I took them home, came back up to school and the next day my mother called and was curious. She said, why is your baby brother singing about Philadelphia cream cheese? He couldn't pronounce Philadelphia Freedom correctly. (Singing) Philadelphia freedom, shine your light.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "PHILADELPHIA FREEDOM")

WONDER: (Singing) Philadelphia freedom, shine on me. I love you. Shine a light through the eyes of the ones left behind.

ROKER: And my - the best my mom could figure was it was Philadelphia cream cheese, that was the only thing that she would - 'cause you got the foil package in the refrigerator. I said no, mom. It's "Philadelphia Freedom." Huh? Yeah, by Elton John. Who? Nevermind.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "PHILADELPHIA FREEDOM")

JOHN: (Singing) Philadelphia freedom I love you, yes I do.

MARTIN: That was "Today Show" weatherman Al Roker, telling us what's playing in his ear.

And that's our program for today. I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Let's talk more tomorrow.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "PHILADELPHIA FREEDOM")

JOHN: (Singing) If you choose to you can live your life alone. Some people choose the city. Some others choose the good old family home. I like living easy without family ties. Till the whippoorwill of freedom zapped me right between the eyes...

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