A Name Inspired by a Song

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.

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FARAI CHIDEYA, host:

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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