In Your Ear: Wyclef

Singer, songwriter and activist Wyclef Jean opens his music file and shares what's playing in his ear (other than his own music, of course).

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MICHEL MARTIN, host:

And now it's time for our occasional series we call In Your Ear. That's where we ask some of our guests to tell us about the music that keeps them grooving. Today, we hear from singer-songwriter Wyclef Jean. We spoke to him recently about his efforts to help rebuild Haiti in the aftermath of that horrible earthquake. Wyclef was also in the final stages of completing his latest album. So, we decided to ask him what music he listens to when he gets some time to relax.

Mr. WYCLEF JEAN (Musician): Yo, what's up, y'all. This is your boy Wyclef Jean. And what am I listening to right now on my iPod? Miles Davis, this is Brew.

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. JEAN: Puts me in the mood, in a setting. And the cool thing about Miles' music was it always took you to a place and a time where it's just a natural meditation. So whenever I want to basically relax, you know, and get in the mood and in the vibe, that's one of the people that I love listening to, Miles Davis.

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. JEAN: And I'm also listening to Jimi Hendrix. As a guitar player, it always fascinates me the way Jimi created a whole style and a movement. And the fact that, you know, he's from a certain area and that did not define the type of musician that he would become. And I love one of my favorite songs, of course, from Jimi is: Hey Joe, where are you going with that gun in your hand? Ba-dum-ba-dum-boom. I mean, the guitar against his vocals, I really think is incredible and that's one of my idols.

(Soundbite of song, "Hey Joe")

Mr. JIMI HENDRIX (Musician): (Singing) Hey Joe, I heard you shot your mama down, shot her down now. Hey Joe, I heard you shot your lady down, shot her down on the ground. Yeah. Yes, I did, I shot her, you know I caught her messing around, messing around town.

Mr. JEAN: And I'm also listening to Bob Marley & The Wailers.

(Soundbite of song, "Exodus")

Mr. BOB MARLEY (Musician): (Singing) Exodus. Movement of the people. Oh yeah. Open your eyes and let me tell you this. Men and people will fight you down, tell me why, when you see the light. Let me tell you, if you're not wrong, then why? Everything is all right.

Mr. JEAN: A lot of people, you know, they know Bob Marley. I mean, you know, The Wailers are actually as cool as Bob Marley, you know what I'm saying?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. JEAN: And I used to the reason why I listen to a lot of The Wailers and stuff, in particular, along with Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, is because of the vocal arrangements and the harmonies and how they spoke of struggle through this reggae, R&B feel. I always found that very fascinating.

(Soundbite of song, "Steppin' Razor")

Mr. MARLEY: (Singing) I'm like a walking razor. Don't you watch my size. I'm dangerous. Said I'm dangerous.

MARTIN: That was Wyclef Jean telling us about the music that's playing in his ear. To hear his recent interview with us, go to TELL ME MORE's website on the program page of NPR.org.

And for more on Haiti, please listen to tomorrow's program. We'll hear from CNN anchor Soledad O'Brien about her new documentary "Rescued" that explores the lives of Haitian orphans.

(Soundbite of song, "Steppin' Razor")

Mr. MARLEY: (Singing) I'm like a stepping razor. Don't you watch my size. I'm dangerous. Dangerous. I'm like a stepping razor. Don't you watch my size. I'm dangerous.

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