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Summer Song Favorites: More Listeners' Picks
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Summer Song Favorites: More Listeners' Picks

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It's time again for Songs of Summer, and the listeners are back. Our next two selections were sent in by listeners. One of the songs is a certified 1970s AM radio classic. Both songs brought back memories of rural America for the two listeners we'll hear from today, and that's where we'll start, with the first song, "Jambalaya" by country music legend Hank Williams.

(Soundbite of song "Jambalaya (On the Bayou)")

Ms. GWEN ROLAND: My name is Gwen Roland, and I'm a writer. I live in Georgia now, but I grew up in Louisiana.

(Soundbite of song "Jambalaya (On the Bayou)")

Mr. HANK WILLIAMS (Country Music Singer): (Singing) Me got to go pole the pirogue down the bayou.

Ms. ROLAND: I grew up north of Baton Rouge, in a rural area called central Louisiana. This song takes me back to a night on a screen porch, probably around 1953, a year after that recording was made.

BLOCK: How old would you have been?

Ms. ROLAND: If it was '53, I would have been about 5. And I think I had on a dirty little dress with some cotton drawers.

We lived on a little gravel road way out in the middle of nowhere, and the only light you could see for miles around was this single lightbulb that was hanging over the ironing board where my mom was ironing. It was very late at night and very hot, which is probably why she was ironing on the porch.

(Soundbite of song "Jambalaya (On the Bayou)")

Mr. WILLIAMS: (Singing) Thibodeaux to Fontainebleau, the place is buzzing. Kinfolk come to see Yvonne by the dozen.

Ms. ROLAND: There really wasn't much room for anything except the ironing board, so that's probably why I was sitting under it, pretending to play piano on this heavy wire that ran from one wooden leg of the ironing board to the other wooden leg, and it kept it from just spraddlin' out. And I was just sitting under that piano, just pounding my hands on that wire in time to the music.

BLOCK: And what was your mom doing?

Ms. ROLAND: In my mind, she was wearing just a slip, and she was boogieing up a storm to Hank Williams and to my piano playing.

(Soundbite of song "Jambalaya (On the Bayou)")

Mr. WILLIAMS: (Singing) Jambalaya, and a crawfish pie and a file gumbo.

Ms. ROLAND: It brings back a sense of peace, the security of being in that circle of light with a caring parent, just a sense of peace and security.

(Soundbite of song "Jambalaya (On the Bayou)")

Mr. WILLIAMS: (Singing) Son of a gun, we'll have big fun on the bayou.

(Soundbite of song, "Summer Breeze")

Mr. SCOTT ANDERSON: I'm Scott Anderson, and I'm from Lincoln, Nebraska. I teach trombone and also history of rock and roll music at the University of Nebraska. And the song is "Summer Breeze" by Seals and Crofts. And when I hear the song during this time of the year, it takes me to Stanhope, Iowa, where I grew up, population 500, and the time is 1972 when the song first came out.

(Soundbite of song, "Summer Breeze")

SEALS AND CROFTS: (Singing) Summer breeze makes me feel fine, blowing through the jasmine in my mind.

Mr. ANDERSON: We were what you would call metropolitan Stanhope. It was about five miles out of town, and I had to ride my bike to get into town. I would strap a radio to the handlebars of my 10-speed bicycle, an AM radio, and ride into town. I would hear everything that was on AM radio, and sometimes I would hear songs that stuck with me. "Summer Breeze" was one of those songs.

(Soundbite of song "Summer Breeze")

SEALS AND CROFTS: (Singing) And I come home from a hard day's work, and you're waiting there, not a care in the world.

Mr. ANDERSON: The recollection is so precise, I can see downtown Stanhope, Iowa, in 1972. There were maybe two or three apartments downtown in Stanhope. And I'd look up at those apartments, having never lived in an apartment. I grew up on a farm. I couldn't imagine anything more romantic than that.

BLOCK: Now, you teach the history of rock and roll at the University of Nebraska. Does it embarrass you at all that this is your summer song?

Mr. ANDERSON: Oh, terribly. It's a guilty pleasure, terribly.

(Soundbite of laughter)

(Soundbite of song "Summer Breeze")

SEALS AND CROFTS: (Singing) Summer breeze makes me feel fine...

BLOCK: That's listener Scott Anderson, and before that, Gwen Roland, with their Songs of Summer. You can listen to the rest of our series at We'll wrap up next week with more picks from listeners and from Tony Bennett.

(Soundbite of song "Summer Breeze")


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