In Your Ear: Author Aleksandar Hemon

Author Aleksandar Hemon who just published a short story collection, "Love and Obstacles", talks about what's playing on his stereo these days.

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JENNIFER LUDDEN, host:

And finally today, a musical note.

From time to time we like to feature a segment in this program called In Your Ear. It's where we ask guests who've been on our show to tell us about three songs they've been listening to of late.

Recently we interview author Aleksandar Hemon to talk about his just published short story collection, "Love and Obstacles."

Here's what he had to say.

(Soundbite of music, "St. Matthew's Passion")

Mr. ALEKSANDAR HEMON (Author): My three favorite pieces of music at this time, number one would be "St. Matthew's Passion" by Johann Sebastian Bach. It is the most beautiful piece of music in at least Western tradition.

(Soundbite of music, "St. Matthew's Passion")

Mr. HEMON: I remember sometime in the 90s, hearing it on the radio and I did not know what it was. And I just sit down and listen for about three hours straight and it was a profound in the literal sense, experience.

(Soundbite of song, "Dig, Lazarus, Dig")

Mr. HEMON: I also thought of Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds and the song "Dig, Lazarus, Dig."

NICK CAVE AND THE BAD SEEDS (Band): (Singing) Dig yourself, Laz'rus. Dig yourself, Laz'rus. Dig yourself, Laz'rus. Dig yourself back in that hole.

Mr. HEMON: I've been a Nick Cave fan since the early 80s when he was part of The Birthday Party thing singing Australian self-destructive rock band and I've always followed his work and loved it. And also Vladimir, the "Dig, Lazarus, Dig" was released at the same time as my book, "The Lazarus Project." So I tell it to the gullible that we coordinated on the release of the album and the publishing of my book. Of course, Nick Cave has no idea that I exist.

Soundbite of song, "Dig, Lazarus, Dig")

NICK CAVE AND THE BAD SEEDS (Band): (Singing) I don't know what it is but there's definitely something going on upstairs. Dig yourself, Laz'rus. Dig yourself, Laz'rus. Dig yourself, Laz'rus. Dig yourself back in that hole.

Mr. HEMON: And the third one is Thelonious Monk's "Straight No Chaser."

(Soundbite of music, "Straight No Chaser")

Mr. HEMON: Anything by Thelonious Monk is fine by me. This one I love for two reasons. One of them is that my daughter, who's two years old, she loves Thelonious Monk, and whenever we play Monk she dances and asks us to dance.

And also because a few years back I was in Sarajevo, spending about six weeks, and I was watching Ken Burns' "History of Jazz" and it was the episode in which Monk was featured. And I watched this and I thought that wherever this music comes from it's home, and so Monk represents the space that I can call home that is part of America.

LUDDEN: That was writer Aleksandar Hemon telling us about the songs playing in his ear.

To hear what other guests have been listening to, check out our website at the new NPR.org.

(Soundbite of music, "Straight No Chaser")

LUDDEN: And that's our program for today. I'm Jennifer Ludden and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News.

Let's talk more tomorrow.

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