Music That You Can 'Write' To

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LGBT rights advocate Andy Marra has a knack for writing. When she needs the right vibe, she turns to musical group Bon Iver. For Tell Me More's 'In Your Ear' series, Marra shares why the song 'Holocene' is perfect to write to.


We end today's program with the feature we call In Your Ear. That's where we ask some of our guests what they're listening to these days. Today, we have the personal playlist of writer and LGBT rights advocate Andy Marra. We spoke with her last December about her essay titled "The Beautiful Daughter: How My Korean Mother Gave Me the Courage to Transition." It first appeared in the Huffington Post, and in it, she describes how against great odds she found her birth family in South Korea, and then how she made the difficult decision to come out to her family as transgender. Here's what's playing in her ear.

ANDY MARRA: My name is Andy Marra, and I am listening to "Lullabies," by Yuna.


YUNA: (Singing) I wanted to go away with you.

MARRA: She's a Malaysian artist, and she was discovered and brought to the States.


YUNA: (Singing) And I will leave all my troubles here.

MARRA: The vocals are so dreamy and beautiful, and her voice is very clear. And I love falling asleep to the sound of her music and to the sound of her voice. It puts me into a nice, relaxing state that lets me fall asleep.


YUNA: (Singing) Like lullabies, you are forever in my mind. I see you in all the pieces in my life, though you weren't mine. Like lullabies, you are forever in my mind. I see you in all the pieces in my life.


MARRA: Another song I'm listening to is "Holocene," by Bon Iver.


BON IVER: (Singing) Someway, baby, it's part of me, apart from me. You're laying waste to Halloween. You - it friend. It's on its head. It struck the street.

MARRA: A perfect song to write to. I particularly like to write to that song when I'm in front of a fireplace and it's quiet outside and it's night out. So it's a wonderful song to write to.


IVER: And at once I knew I was not magnificent, strayed above the highway aisle, jagged vacance, thick with ice.


MARRA: Another song I really love is "Go Do" by Jonsi.


JONSI: (Singing) Go sing too loud. Make your voice break. Sing it out. Go scream, do shout. Make an earthquake. You wish fire would die and turn colder.

MARRA: It's a wonderfully happy and exuberant song. It has a lot of pep. And it reminds me of the fall of 2010, when I found my family in Korea and I was able to begin building a relationship with them. So it has a lot of great memories, and it's very motivational for me when I'm feeling down.


JONSI: (Singing) Go drum, do get out. Make your hands ache. Play it out.


MARRA: Another song that I really, really love is "The Lark Ascending," by Vaughn Williams. It's more of a classical piece, but again, it's a wonderful song to write to, especially when you're feeling reflective and introspective, if you will.


MARRA: I love playing the piece when I am sitting down when it's raining outside and writing more thoughtful, meaningful pieces.


MARTIN: That was writer Andy Marra telling us what's playing in her 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.

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