A Name Inspired by a Song

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This week, NPR's Tony Cox cues up the music — "Tanya" by Dexter Gordon. He explains how the song influenced his choices when naming his children.


It's time now for our staff song pick of the week. The song is "Tanya" by Dexter Gordon. The staff member is NPR's Tony Cox.

TONY COX: Finally, you guys let me pick another song around here.

CHIDEYA: I know. It's a heavy competition. So tell me about this song. When did you first hear it?

COX: I heard this song - I think I was, I don't know, I was a kid. I mean, not a little kid, but a kid - maybe 10, 12. Around my house, you know, it was jazz all the time. I mean, and this was one of them. Recorded in 1964 in Paris by Dexter Gordon who was an expatriate - a saxophonist from Los Angeles, by the way. And this song, it was beautiful and haunting at the same time.

(Soundbite of song, "Tanya")

CHIDEYA: So what do you love about it?

COX: I like it because it's complex. You know, it starts off - because, you know, people that don't like jazz is like - it sounds like noise. It doesn't make any sense to them, you know? But it had a melody in the beginning and then it broke off into some not heavy bebop jazz, but more than just melodic. And it was entrancing. And I really have always liked that tune. It's one of those tunes, you get it in your head and you end up humming it.

CHIDEYA: So it sounds like it's affected your life. How so?

COX: Well, I have three kids. And, you know, trying to name a kid is something that all parents go through, and that everybody does it differently. But this song I wanted to name one of my kids after it. So when I had a daughter, the second time, I said, you know, I'm going to name her Tanya because I like this song and I thought it would be a cool tribute to her. As it turned out, as she got older, she really is - she really fits the music because she's, you know, cool but complex.

CHIDEYA: Well, you can't get better than that, Tony.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CHIDEYA: Thank you.

That was NPR's Tony Cox with his staff song pick of the week, "Tanya" by Dexter Gordon.

(Soundbite of song, "Tanya")

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 our Web site, nprnewsandnotes.org - no spaces, just nprnewsandnotes.org. To join the conversation or sign up for our newsletter, visit our blog at nprnewsandviews.org.

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

Tomorrow, are the scales of justice tipped against black Americans?

(Soundbite of song, "Tanya")

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

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