MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:
I bumped into Don Gonyea, our national political correspondent, in the NPR cafeteria the other day, which is not something I get the chance to do very often because for most of this past year Don has been on the road, out chatting with voters and reporting from the campaign trail. But when I did bump into him, Don reminded me that while he's logging all those miles, he comes up with election playlists, songs with some connection to the place he's visiting. And Don is with us now to give us a preview of his latest. Don, I'm going to christen this the homestretch playlist.
DON GONYEA, BYLINE: That works for me. Thanks for having me, too.
KELLY: (Laughter) You've been looking forward to having the homestretch in your sights I'm guessing.
GONYEA: (Laughter) Yes, yes.
KELLY: So I have to start by asking you - we just said you logged a lot of miles. How many rental cars do you think you've been in this year?
GONYEA: If there is a nondescript, four-door, silver sedan in a rental car lot in America, I have driven it this year.
KELLY: You've driven it.
KELLY: All right. So lay it on me. What is the first track on the homestretch?
GONYEA: OK. Again, the key is to make me feel good. And I always like to start with something uptempo. And for this homestretch playlist, I start with the great Ella - there's only one Ella - Ella Fitzgerald and the Chick Webb band singing "Vote For Mr. Rhythm."
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "VOTE FOR MR. RHYTHM")
ELLA FITZGERALD: (Singing) Vote for Mr. Rhythm. Raise up your voice, and vote for Mr. Rhythm, the people's choice.
GONYEA: She sings at one point you'll be happy with 'im (ph). Take my advice. Vote for Mr. Rhythm. I'm voting twice.
KELLY: So that's number one, all right. Track two - where are we going next?
GONYEA: Kind of a different mood and a song from my youth growing up in Detroit, and I think it sums up this political year in ways that it hadn't even attended (ph) - The Temptations, "Ball Of Confusion."
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BALL OF CONFUSION")
THE TEMPTATIONS: (Singing) Demonstration, integration, aggravation, humiliation, obligation to our nation. Ball of confusion, that's the world is today.
KELLY: Now, we mentioned that you picked songs to try to give some sort of sense of location of the spot that you're showing up in to report on. So where do you have your sights on for these last three weeks and counting?
GONYEA: I'm focused on the battleground states. Two of the big ones that I'm sure I will be going to are Ohio and Florida. So there are these guys from Athens, Ohio, who had a band in the late '70s and '80s called Devo. Does everybody know Devo?
KELLY: (Laughter) Oh, yeah.
GONYEA: They wore their hazmat suits and they wore those hats that looked like upside down plastic flower pots.
KELLY: And they whipped it.
GONYEA: And they whipped it. And I just - I just love that song. And since I find myself in that rental car passing through Akron, Ohio, I always think of Devo when I do. And that's why they're on the list.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WHIP IT")
DEVO: (Singing) You must whip it. Now whip it into shape. Shape it up. Get straight. Go forward.
KELLY: Now, we mentioned you've been making these playlists all through the campaign season. You came on the show and told us about your playlist for Iowa, your playlist for New Hampshire. And we should mention one more milestone to get through is the last presidential debate, which is coming up on Wednesday night. Is there a song that speaks to you with the debate in sight?
GONYEA: You can find anything on these music services (laughter) online, and there is this group called The Gregory Brothers. They're from Virginia, which kind of happens to be a battleground state. And they took the 2012 debates, edited them down and autotuned them. So we have Barack Obama, the president, we have the Republican nominee, Mitt Romney and they are singing the debate back and forth to one another. And it's just kind of stupid and kind of fun.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
MITT ROMNEY: As president, I will sit down, day one, sit down with leaders for a couple hours, talk about the issues, talk about challenges.
PRES BARACK OBAMA: Part of being a leader is not just saying I'll sit down.
GONYEA: We knew Obama could sing. He sings Motown on the stump, right? But who knew Mitt Romney could sing? (Laughter) So there you have it.
KELLY: There you have it. OK, after a year on the road, I have to ask, are you already plotting what you will play that glorious morning that will dawn November 9, Wednesday, the day after the election?
GONYEA: I polled my fellow reporters and correspondents on the NPR election desk, and it's not that this is any of our favorite song, but we think it is going to be the perfect song to play to both kind of get us through and to carry us right on to November 8. And I'm not going to introduce it. We're just going to hear the chorus.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I WILL SURVIVE")
GLORIA GAYNOR: (Singing) Do you think I'd crumble? Did you think I'd lay down and die? Oh, no, not I. I will survive.
KELLY: Well, that seems like a good place to end it. NPR's road warrior and political correspondent Don Gonyea, thank you very much.
GONYEA: All right, as always, Play it loud.
KELLY: We will play it loud, and you can check out his whole playlist. We've got it up. It's at npr.org.
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