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NEAL CONAN, host:

This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington.

And today, The Roches join us for a holiday concert here in Studio 4A.

(Soundbite of applause)

CONAN: The Roches have been on the soundtrack of many listeners' lives for longer than they'd care to admit. The three sisters are known for gorgeous harmonies and songs as often humorous as heartfelt.

Terre Roche sings in the highest range, Maggie on the low end, and Suzzy's voice blends in somewhere in the middle. They're from New Jersey, originally, and, yes, started singing together as kids. Over the years, they've performed as individuals. As a duo, they've collaborated with other artists, issued a dozen CDs, collected a trunkful of glowing reviews and a loyal following.

If you'd like to talk with Suzzy, Maggie and Terre Roche about their music, their careers and their inspiration, our number is 800-989-8255. E-mail us: talk@npr.org. And you can join the conversation on our blog at npr.org/blogofthenation.

The Roches' latest CD is called "Moonswept." It's their first in over a decade.

Welcome to you all, and thanks so much for coming in.

Ms. SUZZY ROCHE (Vocalist, The Roches): Oh, it's our pleasure.

Ms. TERRE ROCHE (Vocalist, The Roches): Oh, yeah.

Ms. MAGGIE ROCHE (Vocalist, The Roches): Thanks for having us.

CONAN: So what do you want to start with?

Ms. S. ROCHE: Well, we thought since we are from New York City and it is holiday time, we'd like to do like a New York City-holiday number.

CONAN: Go ahead.

(Soundbite of song "Winter Wonderland")

THE ROCHES (Singing Group): (Singing) Over the ground lies a mantle of white. A heaven of diamonds shines down through the night. Two hearts are thrillin' in spite of the chill in the weather.

Love knows no season, love knows no clime. Romance can blossom any old time. Here in the open, we're walking and hopin' together.

Sleigh bells ring, are you lis'nin'? In the lane, snow is glis'nin'. A beautiful sight, we're happy tonight. Walking in a winter wonderland. Gone away, is the blue bird. Here to stay is a new bird. He sings a love song, as we go along. Walking in a winter wonderland.

In the meadow we can build a snowman, then pretend that he is Parson Brown. He'll say are you married? We'll say no man! But you can do the job when you're in town.

Later on we'll conspire, as we dream by the fire. To face unafraid, the plans that we've made walking in a winter wonderland.

(Soundbite of applause)

CONAN: Maggie, Terre and Suzzy Roche are here with us in Studio 4A. Of course, the meadow on that case being the Sheep Meadow in Central Park, as I assume. I have to play a guess. So…

Ms. S. ROCHE: Yes. Exactly.

CONAN: Those accents, of course, completely foreign to you all.

Ms. T. ROCHE: Yes. Well, not really.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: You grew up in New Jersey, completely different accent than that, of course, and started singing together as kids. Do you remember the first time? Was there a first time that is embedded in your consciousness?

Ms. S. ROCHE: I, actually, have the first memory of Maggie and Terre singing. It was in the car and they were singing in harmony the song "Sacred Heart of Jesus," which I've never heard again.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: And when did - I know from reading - we've talked, in fact, together before - your dad used to haul you out on the holidays and put you in front of visitors to the house in your nightgowns that you would sing along.

Ms. T. ROCHE: Lots of people's fathers do that to them. This is - we're outing that situation there.

Ms. S. ROCHE: Actually, he really - what he really did was write political songs and make us stand on the back of the truck and sing them.

CONAN: Really? (Unintelligible) budding Tom Lehrer?

Ms. S. ROCHE: No. It was really that our father's best friend in our small little town in New Jersey called Park Ridge. He was the head of the Democratic Party in the town, which loss every single year that we lived there.

CONAN: He was the one?

Ms. S. ROCHE: Yes, exactly. And we sang for the local politicians.

CONAN: Mm-hmm. And what kind of songs?

(Soundbite of music)

THE ROCHES: (Singing) Did you ever meet Adler or Graham and Ford. They are running for council and they won't be ignored. Say hello to Bob Graham. He's your kind of man. And when you see him on the council, you're gonna be glad he ran.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. T. ROCHE: That sort of thing.

CONAN: And, of course, I guess royalties immediately went to Woody Guthrie.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. M. ROCHE: Then there was the one that went like…

(Soundbite of music)

THE ROCHES: (Singing) Whose got the guts of only a few? Ned.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. S. ROCHE: (Singing) Whose interest lies with me and with you? Ned.

Ms. M. ROCHE: There was one for President Johnson: don't put Goldwater in the tank.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. M. ROCHE: Just put that Johnson tiger in the tank. That's the one. Yeah. It went on and on and on. Yes.

CONAN: And on and on and on like that. And yet, you all managed to survive that.

Ms. S. ROCHE: Well, look at us.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. T. ROCHE: No. Yes. We did.

Ms. S. ROCHE: We got to leave school and go traveling around with the governor of New Jersey on the back of a truck in order to sing these songs. And that was what got me hooked into it.

CONAN: And…

Ms. S. ROCHE: …was this idea that you could leave school and go do this and instead of be sitting in class.

CONAN: And have you ever found your self driving to a gig three hours into Minnesota somewhere where you regretted that decision?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. M. ROCHE: Yes.

Ms. T. ROCHE: How would you know?

Ms. S. ROCHE: Yeah. How could you tell?

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: A lot of public radio stations out there that some of us go to visit too. So we have some experience of this. It's been a remarkable career. You've not had - I guess everybody starts out with the idea that you're going to be stars. And, well, you're stars of a kind. You never had that great big hit ever.

Ms. S. ROCHE: No. We never did. But I don't know if we really started out thinking we were going to be stars. I think we were trying to have fun. And we were starting out singing on the street actually.

CONAN: Yeah.

Ms. S. ROCHE: So that was kind of - we just - we're doing it for, you know, putting out the hat and seeing how much money we could make.

CONAN: You quite did pretty well.

Ms. S. ROCHE: We did and we used to sing Christmas carols. That's how we literally started doing it as the three of us.

Ms. M. ROCHE: I think these days, people think more in terms of being stars then we kind of came up in the '60s, where it was more like, you know, you were trying to say something important that sort of thing. I think we were - grew out of that soil.

CONAN: Let's get some listeners involved in this conversation. Of course, we're speaking with The Roches. Suzzy, Maggie and Terre Roche are with us here on Studio 4A.

If you'd like to join the conversation, give us a call: 800-989-8255. E-mail is talk@npr.org.

And let's start with Nancy(ph). Nancy is with us from Taft in California.

NANCY (Caller): Hi.

CONAN: You're on the air. Go ahead.

Ms. S. ROCHE: Hi.

NANCY: Yes. My question is - well, the first time I heard this group, I went out and bought everything that they had ever recorded. I just love the harmony. But I was wondering if they could give me an update on the gentleman from Darfur that was on one of the recordings.

Ms. S. ROCHE: Oh, Francis Bok. That was a recording, Zero Church, that we did…

NANCY: Yes.

Ms. S. ROCHE: …up at Harvard. It was - it's a very unusual collection of prayers. And Francis Bok who had been captured as a young boy and made to be slave when he was 8 - I think it was 8 - I think he's doing very well. He -last I heard, he lives in Cambridge and travels around on behalf of his fellow country people from Sudan, you know, trying to stop the situation there.

NANCY: Yeah. Though it was a beautiful recording, and I really want to thank you for bringing, you know, including him that recording. I do say a prayer for him every time I hear the word Darfur.

Ms. S. ROCHE: Oh.

CONAN: That's nice. Thank…

NANCY: Thank you very much.

CONAN: Thanks very much for the call, Nancy.

You've collaborated, I guess, with a lot of different people and in, I guess, some ways, the first recording that I read about is backing up Paul Simon.

Ms. T. ROCHE: Yes. Actually, we did. Maggie and I started out - there was a record called "There Goes Rhymin' Simon."

CONAN: I think some people bought that record, yeah.

Ms. T. ROCHE: Yeah, yeah. And there was a song on there called, "Was A Sunny Day." And that's me and Maggie singing along in the background on that one.

CONAN: Maggie, how did you meet Paul Simon?

Ms. M. ROCHE: Oh, gosh. I found out from somebody that he was conducting a songwriting workshop at NYU. And I laid and wait for him in the foyer of the building and pounced when he walked through the door.

CONAN: Mm-hmm. Other stalkers have not fared so well.

Ms. M. ROCHE: That's right. No, he was very gracious. And he said that Terre and I, who - could come to the class if we wanted to.

CONAN: And Terre, what happened, be - going to class with Paul Simon is one thing, singing on the record is another.

Ms. T. ROCHE: Well, for me, the way I remember that experience was that Maggie pounced on him and then the next week, he had invited us both to come in so we both came in. And I remember I was so tongue-tied that when he asked me my name, I said Paul.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: When everybody knew it was Ringo.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: Obviously, you impressed him. And from there, where do - was that the moment when you thought, well, maybe we can make a living at doing this?

Ms. T. ROCHE: Oh, no. I still haven't come to that moment.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: We're talking with The Roches. Maggie, Terre, and Suzzy Roche are with us here in Studio 4A. If you'd like to join the conversation, our phone number is 800-989-8255, 800-989-TALK. Over the past few days, we've been asking listeners who have a favorite Roches song from the past, if they'd like to send in some requests. We're going to get to that when we come back from the break. But I'd like to read this e-mail that we got.

This from Paul(ph). Rumor has it, the real angels will stop to listen when the girls from Jersey sing "Angels We Have Heard on High." Personally, I think road rage would vanish if this song was built into car stereos and would play when the driver's blood pressure spite. However, I would really like to hear the ladies perform "Stairway to Heaven."

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: We can't promise that.

Ms. S. ROCHE: Which Paul would that be, by the way?

CONAN: I don't know, but it doesn't begin with an S. It doesn't begin with an S. We'll be back with The Roches in just a moment. Stay with us.

You're listening to TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News. I'm Neal Conan in Washington.

(Soundbite of song "The Married Men")

THE ROCHES: (Singing) All of that time in how to spend for kissing a married man, all of that tine in how to spend for kissing a married, the married man.

(Soundbite of music)

CONAN: This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington.

Today, a special live performance by The Roches. The three sisters are Suzzy, Maggie and Terre. Suzzy and Terre on vocals and guitar, Maggie on vocals, guitar and piano. We'll hear plenty more music this hour. We've posted several songs also at our Web site npr.org/talk. We've also been asking you to e-mail requests for the bands. We'll get to those a little bit later.

If you want to talk with Suzzy, Maggie and Terre Roche about their music, their careers and their inspiration: 800-989-8255. E-mail us: talk@npr.org. You can also join the conversation on our blog at npr.org/blogofthenation. And how about another tune?

Ms. S. ROCHE: All right. Well, this one is another holiday one. But actually, this is one that Terre wrote and it's called "Star of Wonder."

(Soundbite of song "Star of Wonder")

THE ROCHES: (Singing) Star of wonder in the heaven, wonder what you want of me. Should I follow you tonight? Star of wonder, star of wonder. I am just a lonely shepherd, watching from a distant hill. Why do you appear to me? Star of wonder, if you will, in the morning they'll come looking for the shepherd on the hill. What would make her leave her flock for surely she must love them still. Star of wonder in the heaven, are you just a shining star or should I follow you tonight? Star of wonder, star of wonder, shining bright.

(Soundbite of applause)

CONAN: Do you have to close your eyes to sing harmony?

Ms. S. ROCHE: Hmm, it helps.

CONAN: Yeah? It helps listen?

Ms. S. ROCHE: I think when you can see, I think your sight gets in the way of your hearing. That's why there are so many great blind musicians.

Ms. M. ROCHE: While I just watching, who is the guy from Italy who could sings with his eyes closed? He was on - I don't know.

CONAN: Bocelli?

Ms. M. ROCHE: Yeah, yeah.

CONAN: Yeah.

Ms. M. ROCHE: He was - I was watching him last night and I was just thinking around if that's how I sing. Maybe that's why my eyes were closed.

CONAN: Let's get another caller on the line. This is Jonathan(ph). Jonathan calling us from Howell in Michigan.

JONATHAN (Caller): Hi. How you doing?

CONAN: Very well. Thanks.

Ms. M. ROCHE: Hey.

JONATHAN: Well, totally off the holiday subject. I was wondering if I could bring up an old memory. What was it like working with Steven Spielberg?

Ms. S. ROCHE: Oh, that was great.

CONAN: What did you do with Steven Spielberg?

Ms. S. ROCHE: Well, we did - I had - well, I've worked with Steven several times. No, I was actually in a movie that his then-wife, Amy Irving, was the star of.

CONAN: "Crossing Delancey."

Ms. S. ROCHE: That's right. And he came and watched our scene together. And then, he was so kind to come up to me and tell me I was a natural. Of course, that was my last acting job.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. S. ROCHE: But we also - he had - he, sort of, is a producer of "Tiny Toons," and they…

JONATHAN: That's exactly what I was thinking.

Ms. S. ROCHE: …they came to sketch us while we did a show and then, they wrote a cartoon based on us, you know, The Roches. Only, we were bugs.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: I guess he was the very first to make that analogy.

Ms. S. ROCHE: Yes. Well, he - it was the first…

Ms. M. ROCHE: Well, he's very intelligent.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: Thanks very much for the call, Jonathan.

JONATHAN: Oh, you're really welcome. Thank you.

CONAN: Okay. That - by the way, telling most of that story was Suzzy Roche. And let's go on now to Finley(ph), Finley with us from North Carolina.

FINLEY (Caller): Hey, how you doing? A great program. Hey, I'm a choir musician and a singer here in eastern North Carolina. I love your harmonies. And I'm very interested, though, how do you come up with them? Kind of intuitively sit around and sing, or do you write them out, or what?

Ms. S. ROCHE: No. We fight note for note. It's how we get all our sibling aggression out.

FINLEY: Yeah. I understand that.

Ms. S. ROCHE: No, really…

Ms. T. ROCHE: Just explore all the possibilities. That would be my advice.

FINLEY: Yeah, yeah. But when you guys are doing the harmonies, do you sit around and sing them and see what works and then what doesn't and then off it goes?

Ms. T. ROCHE: Absolutely.

Ms. M. ROCHE: Yes.

Ms. S. ROCHE: We have…

FINLEY: Yeah.

Ms. S. ROCHE: …one rule, which is that no one has to sing a note that they don't want to sing.

FINLEY: Yeah. I always told my chorus that if it sounds good, it is good. Make something up that works. If it doesn't, try something else.

Ms. T. ROCHE: I would go one further than that. I'd say if it sounds good to me, it is good.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: That was Terre.

FINLEY: Finally. I hear lots great. Thank you. Really great music. I love harmony and - hey by the way, I'm also a classical music announcer on Public Radio East and, you know, we listen to you guys all the time. Great program in the afternoon.

CONAN: Well, thanks very much for that. We appreciate it.

FINLEY: All right. Take care.

CONAN: Bye-bye. But a lot of people think - well, they're sisters, they've grown up singing together. All this must come instinctively. It must be a natural thing to fall into these harmonies. Yet, I've read interviews with you where you say it's like a calculus homework.

Ms. S. ROCHE: Yes. I think it is like that. I mean, I never took calculus, but you know, I think that because we're not really formally trained, maybe we -come out of a different way. But it really is math, so…

CONAN: Not formally trained. So do you read music?

Ms. S. ROCHE: I think we're each at a different level than that, I, being on the lowest level.

Ms. T. ROCHE: But we started late. I mean, we didn't have any musical lesions as kids but actually, it was really Paul Simon that sort of when Maggie and I, when he was working with us, he kind of said that you know, you guys should take some music lessons. And he had us study with Maggie, study with a piano teacher and I study with a guitar teacher. But, by then, we had already been playing for about eight years.

CONAN: Looking…

Ms. T. ROCHE: So we came in the backdoor, kind of.

CONAN: In the backdoor, but I'm looking at Maggie on the piano. I could see you've got some notes there, but I - there's no sheet music and there is no music at all in front of Suzzy and Terre. So you just remember all the stuff?

Ms. M. ROCHE: Well, these are words.

CONAN: Those are words.

Ms. M. ROCHE: Yeah, to the song that we're going to sing next.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: And we'll leave those words hanging. Well, we'll get to them in just a minute. In the meantime, let's get to another caller. This is Dotty(ph), Dotty calling us from Florida.

DOTTY (Caller): Hello?

CONAN: Hi, Dotty. You're on the air.

DOTTY: Okay. I just wanted to know - I don't know much about music, but it sounds a little bit like barbershop with the half tones that they're singing. And I'm wondering if they took anything from barbershop. How close is it to that or is it more like Appalachian mountain music. Where does it fall, their harmony?

Ms. S. ROCHE: Well, I think we usually refer to it as Roche music…

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. S. ROCHE: …because we haven't really quite heard something like it. But I'm sure that it borrows from all of those kinds of traditions, you know?

Ms. T. ROCHE: And those two that you mentioned, I can see those definitely, those two as being…

CONAN: Influences?

Ms. T. ROCHE: …something that we sound like…

CONAN: Yeah? Salon music as supposed to barbershop, maybe?

Ms. S. ROCHE: Salon, did you say?

CONAN: Yeah.

Ms. S. ROCHE: Or Salam.

CONAN: No salon. Why do you think it's barbershop, Dotty?

DOTTY: Oh, I just - I like barbershop music, and I read once that it's very, very difficult to sing because it's those half tones that's not normal steps that you would normally sing in a harmony. And that's as if what they're doing sounds very difficult also.

Ms. S. ROCHE: I think the word normal…

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. S. ROCHE: …can be kind of jettisoned…

DOTTY: Yeah.

Ms. S. ROCHE: …with respect to our situation.

DOTTY: So you just - this is your own thing.

Ms. M. ROCHE: Yes. You're - I think your observation is correct.

CONAN: Thanks very much for the call, Dotty.

DOTTY: Thank you.

CONAN: So long. Here's an e-mail we have from Mark(ph). How did you hook up with Leon Redbone for the song you recorded with him on his album "From Red to Blue"? Did he approach you or vice versa?

Ms. S. ROCHE: We did a tour with Leon.

CONAN: Suzzy, yeah.

Ms. S. ROCHE: And we, you know, were on the road with him. And I think it came right out of that experience.

Ms. T. ROCHE: That's right. We actually wrote a song for Bobby Gordon, who is playing the clarinet with Leon in Leon's band. We wrote a song called "Bobby's Song" for him. So we had a little season there of working with Leon and his guys.

CONAN: Of all the people you've toured with - well, it's going to sound one of those crazy stories - but of the people you've toured with, you hear their act over and over and over again. Who would you go back to see?

Ms. M. ROCHE: Well, any one who would put me on the guest list.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: And that would be everybody, I assume.

Ms. M. ROCHE: Hopefully.

CONAN: Let's get another caller on the line. This is - I think this is Casey(ph) in Jacksonville, Florida.

CASEY (Caller): Good afternoon, Neal.

CONAN: Go ahead, Casey.

CASEY: May I say hello to one of my very favorite groups?

Ms. S. ROCHE: Oh, well, hello.

Ms. M. ROCHE: Hi.

Ms. T. ROCHE: Thanks for calling.

CASEY: Suzzy, I was very interested when you said that you did your harmonies with your eyes closed because I am totally visually impaired, with perfect pitch. And I got your first album and I have this memory I was - I fell asleep on Saturday night and "Saturday Night Live" came on, and I remember waking up because I heard you guys going…

(Singing) Aah. Aah. Aah.

And then you've launched into the "Halleluiah" chorus.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CASEY: I sat, bolt upright and I was like, holy smoke - but I didn't say smoke.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CASEY: And, I mean, I really, you know, flipped over that song. And I sure would love it if you could sing it.

Ms. S. ROCHE: Well, first of all, thanks for saying smokes in this situation.

CONAN: And we thank you too.

CASEY: Family radio station.

Ms. S. ROCHE: We will definitely sing that song especially for you.

CASEY: Thank you. I'll say bye. I'll take the rest of this off the air.

CONAN: Okay, Casey, thanks for the tune - thanks for the phone call. And that will be up later in the show. So stay with us. But "Saturday Night Live"? Again, this is pretty cool stuff.

Ms. S. ROCHE: Yeah. That was a long time ago. But it was exciting and scary, you know, because it's live television. Actually, somebody, the week before, I think, had done something bad on the television…

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. S. ROCHE: …and so Lorne Michaels was standing in front of us with his arms crossed, looking at us like…

CONAN: Sternly, yeah.

Ms. S. ROCHE: Yeah.

Ms. M. ROCHE: This is live too.

Ms. S. ROCHE: I know.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: And…

Ms. M. ROCHE: Are you afraid…

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. S. ROCHE: That's why Neal has those…

Ms. M. ROCHE: Are you scared?

CONAN: My arms are here crossed. I'm looking sternly at you in hopes that you won't say anything. We know you won't sing anything bad. But of all the appearances you've - I know you did "The Tonight Show" too. I mean, that must be pretty scary as well.

Ms. M. ROCHE: That's right.

Ms. S. ROCHE: With Johnny Carson.

CONAN: With Johnny Carson, you know?

Ms. S. ROCHE: Twice.

CONAN: Was Ed McMahon there?

Ms. S. ROCHE: Was what?

CONAN: Ed McMahon there?

Ms. S. ROCHE: He must have been.

CONAN: Yeah.

Ms. S. ROCHE: He must have been.

CONAN: It's hard, sometimes you don't even notice him but…

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: That's, you know, going out to - I assume you would fly all the way to the Coast to do that - just that.

Ms. S. ROCHE: Oh, yeah.

Ms. M. ROCHE: Yes.

CONAN: Yeah? And as you're sitting there, thinking, what do we perform? We got X-many million people watching us tonight. Maggie, do you remember the discussions about who is involved in making the decision about what you're going to sing?

Ms. M. ROCHE: I don't remember what we sang. I remember what we sang the second time.

Ms. T. ROCHE: Right. Right, because, you see, we have had been the "David Letterman Show."

CONAN: Aha.

Ms. M. ROCHE: And we wrote a song called "Big Nothing," about being on television, which was actually about being in "The Tonight Show" the first time. But Johnny Carson introduced it by saying it was about what we were on "David Letterman Show."

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: They're all like that, aren't they?

You're talking to The Roches there with us live in Studio 4A. You're listening to TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.

And how about another tune?

Ms. S. ROCHE: All right. This one is called "No Shoes." And it's by our friend Paranoid Larry from New York City. It's on our very, very brand new CD called "Moonswept."

One, two, three, four.

(Soundbite of song "No Shoes")

THE ROCHES: (Singing) I had no shoes and I complained, until I met a man who had no feet. That's really beat. I had no feet and I complained, until I met a man who had no knees. That was his disease. I had no knees and I complained, until I met a man and you know what? He had no butt. I had no butt and I complained about it all, and then I met a man who had no balls.

I had no balls and I complained, until I met a man who had no guts, no balls, no butt and now no guts. I had no guts and I complained, until I met a man who had no heart, the most important part. I had no heart and I complained I did not understand, and then I met a man who had no hands. I had no hands and I complained until I met a man who was a wreck. He had no neck. I had no neck and I complained, until I met a man who had no chin. Some folks lose. Some folks win.

I had no chin and I complained, until I met a man who had no nose that really blows. I had no nose and I complained, until I met a man who never cries. He had no eyes. I had no eyes and I complained, until I met a man who felt no pain. He had no brain. I had no brain and I complained, until I met a man who had no head, as good as dead. I had no head and I complained, until I met a man who had no hair. There was nothing there. I had no hair and I complained, until I met a man who had no hat. Picture that - not even a hat.

I had no hat and I complained, until I met a man who had no sky. No sky. No reason why. I had no sky and I complained until I met a man who had no stars. He had no stars. No Venus or Mars. No Venus or Mars? And not any stars. I had no stars and I complained, until I met a man who had no god. That's rather odd. I had no god and I complained, until I met a man who had no faith. Nothing just in case. I had no faith and I complained, until I met a man who had no love. Nothing to dream of.

I had no love and I complained, until I met a man who had no hope at the end of his rope. I had no hope and I complained, until I met a man who had no luck. That really sucks. I had no luck and I complained that I had nothing left to lose. And then I met a man who had no shoes.

(Soundbite of applause)

CONAN: Maggie, Suzzy and Terre Roche, here with us in Studio 4A. More music and more of your calls when we come back. Stay with us: 800-989-8255. 800-989-TALK. E-mail is talk@npr.org. I'm Neal Conan. It's TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.

(Soundbite of music)

CONAN: Today, a holiday concert with The Roches. Across me here in Studio 4A are Suzzy Roche on vocals and guitar, Terre Roche on vocals and guitar, and Maggie Roche on vocals, guitar and joining us on the piano from time to time as well. The Roches' latest CD is called "Moonswept." You can find it in stores now. And you can sample some tracks at npr.org/talk.

If you'd like to join the conversation: 800-989-8255. E-mail is talk@npr.org. There's also a conversation underway on our blog at npr.org/blogofthenation.

And why don't we start this last segment with another tune.

Ms. S. ROCHE: All right.

(Soundbite of music)

Ms. S. ROCHE: You know, I think we'd all like to say just for all the people who have been listening for so many years how much we really appreciate our fans because they're the best.

And here is one from our very, very first album called "The Train," which I guess some people have been calling in and requesting.

(Soundbite of song "The Train")

Ms. S. ROCHES: (Singing) I sit down on the train with my big pocketbook, the guitar and a sugar-free drink. I wipe the sweat off of my brow with the side of my arm. And I take off all that I can.

I am trying not to have a bad day. Now, everybody knows…

THE ROCHES: (Singing) The way that is.

Ms. S. ROCHES: (Singing) Even though my baggage and I are using up a two-person seat. I'm not trying to be funny, but the guy who sits down next to me is even bigger than that. We are overflowing out of the seat. I can't look at him. He doesn't look at me.

THE ROCHES: (Singing) Once you step on, you might never get off of the commuter train. It doesn't go very far away but just the same. It's a trip and a half.

Ms. S. ROCHES: (Singing) My face is pressed up against the window and through it I can see the reflection of the train. I spy on the big guy sitting next to me. He's drinking two beers and reading the New York Post.

I'm trying not to have a bad day. Now, everybody knows the way that is.

He is miserable and I am miserable.

THE ROCHES: (Singing) We are miserable. Can't we have a party? Would he rather have a party? After all we have to sit here and he's even drinking a beer. I want to ask him what's his name. But I can't 'cause I'm so afraid of the man on the train.

Once you step on, you might never get off of the commuter train, of the commuter train. It doesn't go very far away but just the same. It's a trip and a half. In the train. Get us off the train.

(Soundbite of applause)

CONAN: Maggie, Suzzy and Terre Roche, singing - am I correct, the - about the joys of the New Jersey transit system?

Ms. M. ROCHE: Yes, the commuter trains.

CONAN: Yes, yes. I regret to say I've ridden it, and would've killed for a copy of the New York Post.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: Here's a an e-mail we got from Wes(ph) in Charlotte. Anyone who's been listening to The Roches for awhile knows that you're saying their names incorrectly. It is Maggie and Terre and Suzzy as in their "We" song, which is one of your famous tunes.

I have to say, I've been saying Maggie, Suzzy and Terre because they're in that order from left to right. So that's M-S-T. If I go three-K, I can remember that they're in that order and I'll remember to say the right name at the right person. So that's the reason I've been saying that.

Well, here's another one from Maryann(ph) in Auburn, New York: I've been following your career since you left Park Ridge. I'm delighted to hear you on TALK OF THE NATION. I spent my day yesterday decorating my tree to handle Mozart and your "We Three Kings" album. Thanks for years of great music and thanks to Maggie, who let me sing with her in spite of my horrible voice in a talent contest at Immaculate Heart Academy. So…

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: Glad to know you're judge of talent as well, Maggie.

Ms. M. ROCHE: Yeah.

CONAN: And let's see if we can get another caller on the line. Let's go to - this is Nathan(ph), Nathan with us Anchorage in Alaska.

Ms. T. ROCHE: All right.

NATHAN (Caller): Hi, I love you Roches for your music and for your insightful humor. I'm interested in the cross pollination with Robert Fripp, musically. And I've always credited Suzzy for the only time I ever saw Ted Koppel uncomfortable on "Nightline."

(Soundbite of laughter)

NATHAN: Do I accredit that correctly?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. S. ROCHE: It could be. There were a couple of them that - on TV. TV, you know, like they said about me, I have a face for radio.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: They've said that about me too. What did you do to Ted Koppel?

Ms. S. ROCHE: You know, I don't remember.

CONAN: I bet he does.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. S. ROCHE: Tom Snyder was the one who really freaked out.

NATHAN: (Unintelligible) moving on to ever…

CONAN: Snappy Tom Snyder, what?

Ms. S. ROCHE: I think it might've been Tom Snyder that - is it possible that you're confusing it with Tom Snyder?

NATHAN: Absolutely not. I was working at an ABC affiliate and had to watch it.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. S. ROCHE: Oh.

CONAN: Huh.

Ms. S. ROCHE: Yes.

CONAN: Well what happened on the "Tom Snyder Show?"

NATHAN: It was a really bright spot to you make him stumble.

CONAN: All right. Nathan, thanks very much for the call.

NATHAN: Thanks. What about the Fripp?

CONAN: Oh, the Fripp.

Ms. S. ROCHE: Oh, okay.

CONAN: Oh, Robert Fripp of King Crimson fame.

Ms. S. ROCHE: You know, he claims that he saw us first at the Bottom Line, in New York, where one of the critics, John Rockwell, had told him to come and see us. And he claimed that we ignored him when he spoke up to see us.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. S. ROCHE: I didn't know who he was at the time, but I sure do now.

(Soundbite of laughter)

NATHAN: He did produce the first album?

Ms. S. ROCHE: Yes he did.

NATHAN: Fantastic.

Ms. T. ROCHE: Yeah, it was a really unusual collaboration because people expected - when they saw that he was producing it, they expected something, you know, kind of bombastic and big and, you know? And so there was a lot of sort of head scratching that went on there, but we were actually very compatible. One of the things that he did, which I will always appreciate him for is that he took us into the studio and had us sit around just like we're doing right here. And he said - and we were saying, well, aren't we going to get a band to play with us? And he said, no, this is what you do. That's what the record should be.

CONAN: And that record did pretty well.

Ms. T. ROCHE: That was our biggest-selling record, I think.

CONAN: Mm-hmm. Thanks very much for the call, Nathan.

NATHAN: Thank you.

CONAN: All right, now let's follow up. What happened on Tom Snyder?

Ms. S. ROCHE: Well what I - I don't really remember what happened on Tom Snyder, but…

CONAN: He's dead now. You could talk about it.

Ms. S. ROCHE: Afterwards, we got a letter from somebody that said, I'd please like a tab of whatever you were on when you were on Tom Snyder.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. S. ROCHE: So something must have happened.

CONAN: Let's see if we can get another caller in. And I'm presumably pushing the wrong button. Let's see if we could try another one. Nope. Let's see if we can do it this way. We have redundancy here. And Mike(ph) is on the line, Mike is with us from Ithaca, New York.

MIKE (Caller): Hi, Neal. Hi, girls. This is really great music. It doesn't get any better what you do, and that's true since the '60s. And I wanted to comment on something that Nanci Griffith once said when they were interviewing her with Sonny Curtis, when they did the original song that the Everly Brothers had covered 30 years before they did the uncovered version for the first time and that was "Walk Right Back." And Nanci was saying that when siblings sing, they could - two of them can do three-part harmony just with the overtones. But when people who aren't siblings together(ph), Nanci said it sounds very spatial, and she meant spatial not special. And it takes…

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: Or spacey, yeah.

MIKE: Pardon?

CONAN: Or spacey, yeah.

MIKE: Yes, she meant spacey, I guess, but it's like the third person to fill in the middle part. And I was thinking maybe there's an evolutionary reason for this. It's very important for animals to be able to recognize their siblings if they separated since birth and they find each other again. And maybe before people could talk, they sang and they would recognize long lost siblings this way.

Ms. T. ROCHE: That's right up my alley that theory. I like that, yeah.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: Go ahead Terre.

Ms. S. ROCHE: That's a beautiful thought, actually.

Ms. T. ROCHE: That's good, yeah.

MIKE: Certainly illustrate what siblings' singing can do. It sounds as good now as it did in, I think, when did I first hear you guys - when you were on the -that morning show, the "Today Show" in New York City in the mid-60s. That was the first time I heard you guys. .

Ms. M. ROCHE: Wow.

Ms. T. ROCHE: That's great. Well, thanks for calling.

MIKE: Thank you. Keep up what you're doing. I couldn't ask for more.

CONAN: Thanks for the call, Mike.

Ms. T. ROCHE: Actually, somebody told me it's kind of like the way that people in the same family might have the same shaped nose, and so you'd have the same shaped vocal cords.

CONAN: Hmm. And that…

Ms. T. ROCHE: That was a kind of showstopper there.

CONAN: Yeah.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: It sure did.

Ms. T. ROCHE: Somebody jump in.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: Many people in my family…

Ms. T. ROCHE: Help.

CONAN: …are thrilled that they do not have the same shaped nose.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: But the…

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: Let me - have you talked to music theorists about the harmonies that you do? I mean, has anybody - you know what you do is - you know, and has anybody ever explained it to you? Or have you ever asked anybody about it?

Ms. T. ROCHE: Yes. I live with someone who's a genius music theorist and piano player, Gary Dial(ph), and we talk about it. Actually, when we first met some 17 years ago, he had never heard of The Roches. And when he listened to the music, he sort of would describe certain things. And I remember one time there was a song that he heard and he said, you would never have done that if you went to music school. It's about a certain harmony that is going on.

CONAN: Because you would've been told never to do that?

Ms. T. ROCHE: Yes.

CONAN: Yeah, yeah. They're doing a lot of things they were told never to do, right here, live, on TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. M. ROCHE: One of our specialties.

CONAN: As we mentioned, we've asked listeners to e-mail and call us in with requests. We had several on the show already, but the winner was "The Hallelujah Chorus." So why don't we go that?

Ms. T. ROCHE: Okay.

(Soundbite of song "The Hallelujah Chorus")

THE ROCHES: (Singing) Hallelujah. Hallelujah. Hallelujah. Hallelujah. Hallelujah. Hallelujah. Hallelujah. Hallelujah. Hallelujah. Hallelujah.

For the Lord God omnipotent reigneth! Hallelujah. Hallelujah. Hallelujah. Hallelujah. For the Lord God omnipotent reigneth! Hallelujah. Hallelujah. Hallelujah. Hallelujah. For the Lord God omnipotent reigneth! Hallelujah. Hallelujah. Hallelujah. Hallelujah. For the Lord God omnipotent reigneth! Hallelujah. Hallelujah. Hallelujah. Hallelujah. For the Lord God omnipotent reigneth!

The kingdom of this world is become the kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ! And of His Christ! And He shall reign for ever and ever! And He shall reign for ever and ever! And He shall reign for ever and ever! And He shall reign for ever and ever! Forever and ever. And He shall reign for ever and ever!

King of kings, for ever and ever! Hallelujah. Hallelujah. And Lord of lords, for ever and ever! Hallelujah. Hallelujah. King of kings, for ever and ever! Hallelujah. Hallelujah. And Lord of lords, for ever and ever! Hallelujah. Hallelujah. King of kings, for ever and ever! Hallelujah. Hallelujah. And Lord of lords. King of kings. And Lord of lords. And He shall reign, and He shall reign forever and ever. And He shall reign forever and ever.

King of kings, for ever and ever! Hallelujah. Hallelujah. And Lord of lords. Hallelujah. Hallelujah. And he shall reign forever, forever and ever. King of kings and Lord of lords. King of kings and Lord of lords. And He shall reign forever, forever and ever. Forever and ever. Forever and ever. Hallelujah. King of kings and Lord of lords. Hallelujah. Hallelujah. Hallelujah. Hallelujah. Hallelujah. Hallelujah.

(Soundbite of applause)

CONAN: Maggie, Suzzy and Terre Roche, with us here in Studio 4A. Their most recent CD is "Moonswept." And they are appearing on tour. Where do you go from here?

Ms. S. ROCHE: We're going out to the Midwest.

CONAN: And for a couple of weeks, or you just go on weekends?

Ms. S. ROCHE: Just really for the - right up until Christmas, and then we're going to Florida.

CONAN: In Florida. That's a good place to go in January. Mistake…

Ms. M. ROCHE: December.

CONAN: …I think they booked you for Madison half that month. Anyway, thank you so much for coming in, we really enjoyed it.

Ms. S. ROCHE: Thank you, Neal.

Ms. M. ROCHE: Oh, What a pleasure.

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