Summer Memories Inspired by a Song

This week's staff song pick of the week comes from News and Notes Web producer Geoffrey Bennett. His selection, "Before I Let Go" by Maze featuring Frankie Beverly, was inspired by the midsummer memories of his youth.

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FARAI CHIDEYA, host:

Now we move on. It's time for our staff song pick of the week.

Today, we hear from NEWS & NOTES Web producer Geoffrey Bennett. His pick was inspired by the midsummer memories of his youth.

(Soundbite of song "Before I Let Go")

GEOFFREY BENNETT: I was driving through Englewood this past weekend when I heard it: the quintessential song of summer, "Before I Let Go" by Maze featuring Frankie Beverly. It's one of those songs that summer barbecues are built on, kind of like weddings and the electric fly. And sure enough, that's where I heard it. I stopped in the light and noticed nearby at least three generations gathered for a close to life worth cookout in their front yard; their music blaring.

(Soundbite of song "Before I Let Go")

Mr. FRANK BEVERLY (Singer): (Singing) You made me happy. This you can bet. You split right beside me, yeah. And I won't forget.

BENNETT: This song took me back to the days of weekend barbecues at my own grandparents' house in Camden, New Jersey, back to that tiny yard packed with two, sometimes three grills, and mismatched patio furniture covering every inch of grass. As the summer wore on, each weekend gathering became more predictable than the one before, but in a good way.

(Soundbite of song "Before I Let Go")

Mr. BEVERLY: (Singing) Now we've had our good times. That's what they say. We've hurtin' each other. Girl, it's a shame.

BENNETT: My grandfather would hold fort at the kitchen table, talking politics, while my grandmother served up more food than she even had space for.

And since all of the women in my family were teachers, classroom war stories were always a hot topic of conversation.

(Soundbite of song "Before I Let Go")

Mr. BEVERLY: (Singing) Before I let go. Yeah. You know I thank God sun rises and shines on you.

BENNETT: And then there was the unspoken competition between my dad, my brother, and me over who could grill the best burger. Strangely though, my Aunt Joan(ph) usually won. But that's how it went. That backyard, though small, still looms large in my mind's eye. It was (unintelligible) silent this summer as folks have grown older, moved on and others passed away, but I know some family somewhere is sparking up a grill right now and pulling out the weathered lawn chairs.

(Soundbite of song "Before I Let Go")

Mr. BEVERLY: (Singing) Oh. I would never, never, never, never, never, never, never, never let you go before I go.

BENNETT: Next comes the stereo, tuned to some all-day R&B marathon. And then comes this song - maybe at that great moment when the DJ drops the audio, perfect for singing along. I can't think of a better soundtrack for summer memories, old and new.

(Soundbite of song "Before I Let Go")

Mr. BEVERLY: (Singing) We were so close. I love your charm. I can't understand it, no. Where did we go wrong? I won't be askin', girl. I've got to know. I gotta make sure I'm right. Before I let go, ha, ha, I wanna know. I wanna know.

CHIDEYA: Now that is a timeless classic. And that was NEWS & NOTES web producer Geoffrey Bennett with his staff song pick of the week, "Before I Let Go" by Maze featuring Frankie Beverly. To check out what the rest of our staff is listening to, visit our Web site, nprnewsandnotes.org.

(Soundbite of song "Before I Let Go")

Mr. BEVERLY: (Singing) Ba ba ba. Ba ba ba ba ba ba. Come on, girl. Ba ba ba. Ba ba ba ba ba. Ba ba ba. I wanna know. I wanna know. I wanna know before I let you go. I gotta know. Ba ba ba.

CHIDEYA: That's our show for today. Thank you for sharing your time with us. To listen to the show or subscribe to our podcast, visit us at our new Web address, it's nprnewsandnotes.org. That's no spaces, just nprnewsandnotes.org.

And to join the conversation, visit our blog at nprnewsandviews.org. Don't forget to go on and give us your questions for Senator Obama.

NEWS & NOTES was created by NPR News and the African American Public Radio Consortium.

Tomorrow, voices from the 1967 Newark riots.

(Soundbite of song "Before I Let Go")

Mr. BEVERLY: (Singing) Girl it's a shame. I won't be foolish, no, no. I wanna know. I wanna make sure I'm right, girl. Before I let go, yeah. You know I thank God the sun rises and shines on you. You know there's nothing...

CHIDEYA: I'm Farai Chideya. This is NEWS & NOTES.

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