LISTEN: Political Correspondent Don Gonyea's Iowa Playlist NPR correspondent and music buff Don Gonyea takes listeners for a drive on the campaign trail in Iowa.
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LISTEN: Political Correspondent Don Gonyea's Iowa Playlist

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LISTEN: Political Correspondent Don Gonyea's Iowa Playlist

LISTEN: Political Correspondent Don Gonyea's Iowa Playlist

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/455931625/457672625" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

When NPR's reporters hit the road, they have ways of getting themselves into the mindset of a place. Maybe it's a certain local meal, like a pie shake in Iowa City, or a visit to a local landmark, like the Lincoln Library in Springfield. But our political correspondent Don Gonyea creates a short playlist of songs - songs that, in some way, have a connection to the place he's visiting. Here's Don's latest from Iowa.

DON GONYEA, BYLINE: In my nice rental car, gorgeous day. It won't be this nice come caucus day in February.

(SOUNDBITE OF BIX BEIDERBECKE SONG, "DAVENPORT BLUES")

GONYEA: The first song on this list - and it's appropriate because we're heading to Devonport - is called the "Davenport Blues." It's by, I think, my favorite Iowa artist, Bix Beiderbecke, a contemporary of Louis Armstrong.

(SOUNDBITE OF BIX BEIDERBECKE SONG, "DAVENPORT BLUES")

GONYEA: There's a raccoon - did not survive its trip across the road. I see a bit of that. You see (laughter) a bit of that.

(SOUNDBITE OF BIX BEIDERBECKE SONG, "DAVENPORT BLUES")

GONYEA: Next up on my list...

(SOUNDBITE OF THE EVERLY BROTHERS SONG, "WAKE UP LITTLE SUSIE")

GONYEA: The Everly Brothers are from a little town, I don't know, probably 150 miles back behind me as I drive here - Shenandoah, Iowa.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WAKE UP LITTLE SUSIE")

THE EVERLY BROTHERS: (Singing) Wake up, Little Susie, wake up. Wake up, Little Susie, wake up.

GONYEA: These two kids learned how to play guitar and became just these massive hit makers in the 1950s.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WAKE UP LITTLE SUSIE")

THE EVERLY BROTHERS: (Singing) What are we going to tell your pa?

GONYEA: And here's the thing, I mean, not every place can be Motown or Austin or Nashville, but every place has spawned great music.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WAKE UP LITTLE SUSIE")

THE EVERLY BROTHERS: (Singing) We got to go home.

GONYEA: Next up on my list, Greg Brown is an Iowa-based songwriter, put out an album called "The Iowa Waltz." And there's a song on there that captures early Saturday mornings in Iowa, and it's called "Counting Feedcaps."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "COUNTING FEEDCAPS")

GREG BROWN: (Singing) And there ain't that much to do. Let's go down to the cafe and count feedcaps.

GONYEA: Feedcaps are those baseball caps that farmers wear. And on the front, they have the logo of the feed company.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "COUNTING FEEDCAPS")

BROWN: (Singing) Red and blue and green over the coffee cups.

GONYEA: It really captures what could be that languid pace of this place sometimes.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "COUNTING FEEDCAPS")

BROWN: (Singing) Fading slow.

GONYEA: OK, the last song on my list features (laughter) that great group from Iowa, The Beatles.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "TILL THERE WAS YOU")

THE BEATLES: (Singing) There were bells on a hill, but I never heard them ringing. No, I never heard them at all till there was you.

GONYEA: "Till There Was You" is not a song written by the Beatles. It is from musical "The Music Man." And it was written by Meredith Willson, who is from Mason City, Iowa. And if you drive through Mason City, Iowa, as I have, there's no way you could miss the fact that this is Meredith Willson's hometown. You may not know who he is. Now you do. So that's my playlist. It reminds me where I am and it gives me a sense of place. Thanks for riding along.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "TILL THERE WAS YOU")

THE BEATLES: (Singing) There was music and wonderful roses. They tell me, in sweet...

SIMON: That's NPR's national political correspondent Don Gonyea. And this is NPR News.

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