Hozier On His New EP And Why Songs From The Civil Rights Movement Still Resonate : All Songs Considered Irish singer/songwriter Hozier sits down with NPR Music's Bob Boilen to discuss the lifetime of listening that led to his new EP, Nina Cried Power, and what American blues means to him.
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Guest DJ: Hozier On Why Music From The Civil Rights Movement Still Resonates

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Guest DJ: Hozier On Why Music From The Civil Rights Movement Still Resonates

Guest DJ: Hozier On Why Music From The Civil Rights Movement Still Resonates

Guest DJ: Hozier On Why Music From The Civil Rights Movement Still Resonates

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/652158038/653404258" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Andrew Hozier-Byrne joins NPR Music's Bob Boilen in the studio to discuss the music that informed his 2018 EP, Nina Cried Power. Mulography - Anthony Mulcahy hide caption

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Mulography - Anthony Mulcahy

Andrew Hozier-Byrne joins NPR Music's Bob Boilen in the studio to discuss the music that informed his 2018 EP, Nina Cried Power.

Mulography - Anthony Mulcahy

How does music travel through time? How does a kid growing up in Ireland latch on to music made 50 years earlier and find something that resonates, an ocean away? Those questions are why I wanted to sit down and talk with Hozier. The songwriter has a new EP called Nina Cried Power — his first major release since his 2014 debut album — that pays tribute to the musicians whose music ignited Civil Rights movements around the world.

When I spoke to him in New York last week, he said this:

"The intention for me was to credit how important those acts of protest are in a time when there was much vilifying of 'politicizing' things.

"For me, politics is a part of everything whether we like it or not. We vilify things for being political often when it concerns the marginalized. Because it's something we don't want to talk or hear about."

Andrew Hozier-Byrne grew up in County Wicklow, Ireland. His dad played the blues, and that music imprinted on him. When he was picking songs he loved to play for us in this Guest DJ session for All Songs Considered, much of what he picked — including songs by Nina Simone, Tom Waits and John Lee Hooker — is music steeped in an American tradition.

You can hear it in the song "Nina Cried Power," which features gospel singer and activist Mavis Staples and names over a dozen American singers whose music helped to usher in change. You can hear him talk about the making of that song, plus others on the Nina Cried Power EP – which is a bit of a preview for a full-length album slated for 2019 – on this week's All Songs Considered.

Songs Featured On This Episode

Cover for Pastel Blues

Nina Simone

  • Song: Sinnerman

"Nina — hers is the voice I used to listen to as a child before going to sleep, and one that kind of haunted me, I have to say, in the best way possible.... I think at first it was a fascination, an infatuation, with [her] voice and the feelings that she conveyed. Sometimes that was kind of a righteous anger, and sometimes it was such hopefulness and love, and at times such bare raw lusting, too, and yearning. And at times just such sadness.... Where this song came from and what it represents, the feelings behind it, what it was crediting and speaking to, only made sense to me later on."

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Song
Pastel Blues
Album
Pastel Blues
Artist
Nina Simone
Released
1965

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Cover for Nina Cried Power EP

Hozier

  • Song: Nina Cried Power

"[The making of this song] was the first time Mavis [Staples] and I got to sit down and really talk. She was talking about the artists [mentioned in this song: Nina Simone, Billie Holiday, Curtis Mayfield and others] as she had met them and known them. Just sitting with her, hearing her talk about her own experience and singing at rallies after Martin Luther King spoke — she was speaking about him on a first name basis — that was absolutely remarkable."

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Song
Nina Cried Power EP
Album
Nina Cried Power EP
Artist
Hozier
Released
2018

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Cover for Swordfishtrombones

Tom Waits

  • Song: Soldier's Things

"As a teenager I kind of fell in love with this perfect crookedness and ugliness in [Tom Waits'] work — which as a teenager you're drawn to.... This song is very elegantly composed. It's a perfectly painted picture of a garage sale that reduces a man's experience to what's left behind. I experience this song as very much an antiwar song.... There's a terrible sadness to that song. It's so terrifyingly sad."

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Song
Swordfishtrombones
Album
Swordfishtrombones
Artist
Tom Waits
Label
Island

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Cover for Nina Cried Power EP

Hozier

  • Song: Moment's Silence

"I wanted to write a song that was hopeful and grounded in solidarity, grounded in love, in what can be achieved though organization, through the common respect of the dignity of people. It was the decision to write something that was not cynical, when it was so easy to write something that kind of rolled its eyes at global politics."

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Song
Nina Cried Power EP
Album
Nina Cried Power EP
Artist
Hozier
Released
2018

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Cover for The Source

Ali Farka Touré

  • Song: Inchana Massina

"As I got older, I got into Ali Farka Touré and a group called Tinariwen, a West African, Mali-based [group] who make what they refer to as desert blues. In his playing there, that kind of hammering, and the kind of the quick turns — that is something that you find, although of different scales maybe, in traditional Irish folk music, and something that I also have a kind of a love for. It's not my discipline, but artists like Paul Brady as well have a similar quickness in articulating little turns and melody. 'Shrike' on the new EP definitely is a bit of me leaning into that."

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Song
The Source
Album
The Source
Artist
Ali Farka Touré
Label
Hannibal

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Cover for THE ULTIMATE COLLECTION: 1948-1990; DISC 1

John Lee Hooker

  • Song: BOOGIE CHILLEN'

"When I was first learning to play guitar, John Lee Hooker was my go-to. And first of all his voice to me was remarkable. But there was something about his early recordings, I think it might be like a coin on his shoe, just keeping the rhythm.... This is a song that totally exemplifies that repetitive, hypnotic, sort of driving rhythm. It is one of the first John Lee Hooker songs I ever heard, which is 'Boogie Chillen"."

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Song
THE ULTIMATE COLLECTION: 1948-1990; DISC 1
Album
THE ULTIMATE COLLECTION: 1948-1990; DISC 1
Artist
John Lee Hooker
Label
Rhino

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