Tracy Chapman NPR interview @ In Your Ear



Earlier this month, Tracy Chapman wrapped up her tour for her eighth album, “Our Bright Future.” Last week we played for you her thoughts on that music. Today we want to give you a taste of some of the music Chapman was listening to and thinking about while on the road for our segment called In Your Ear.

(Soundbite of song, “Solsbury Hill”)

Ms. TRACY CHAPMAN (Singer, Songwriter): Hi, this is Tracy Chapman, and we’ve been playing cover songs, at least one during the night, and trying to play a new one for every show. And recently, we played “Solsbury Hill” by Peter Gabriel, which has always been one of my favorite songs.

(Soundbite of song, “Solsbury Hill”)

Mr. PETER GABRIEL (Musician): (Singing) Climbing up on Solsbury Hill. I could see the city light.

Ms. CHAPMAN: It’s a song I was introduced to by my sister who is a, and still is a big fan of Peter Gabriel’s music. And it’s a song that is interesting and beautiful for so many reasons. One, it’s in an odd time signature, but I don’t think most people listening to the song can hear that. It’s mostly in seven with, I think, a bar of eight. And it has a beautiful guitar figure that was played by someone who was in my band at one point, Steve Hunter.

(Soundbite of song, “Solsbury Hill”)

Mr. GABRIEL: (Singing) Son, he said, grab your things, I’ve come to take you home.

Ms. CHAPMAN: And it’s just a song that’s always moved me. It uplifts you when you hear it, and that – it seems to me it’s a song about someone who’s struggling with a decision and who finally comes to make the decision and feels confident about it.

(Soundbite of song, “Sitting on Top of the World”)

Ms. CHAPMAN: The other song that I’ve been listening to, I’d say it’s, they’re a couple of songs, some blues songs by Howlin’ Wolf and there’s a song called “Sitting On Top Of The World.”

(Soundbite of song, “Sitting on Top of the World”)

Mr. HOWLIN’ WOLF (Musician): (Singing) One summer day, she went away. She gone and left me, she goin’ to stay. But now she’s gone, and I can’t worry, because I’m sitting on top of the world.

Ms. CHAPMAN: His vocal on that song is really powerful, you know, and everything that he sang, he has this huge voice. And it’s just a great blues song, and I love the melody of it, and love passion of that song.

And the third song is a song by Gillian Welch called “Orphan Girl.”

(Soundbite of song, “Orphan Girl”)

Ms. GILLIAN WELCH (Singer/songwriter): (Singing) I am an orphan on God’s highway…

Ms. CHAPMAN: It just has a beautiful sad lyric about someone who has lost her family and is trying to manage the loss.

(Soundbite of song, “Orphan Girl”)

Ms. WELCH: (Singing) I have no mother, no father, no sister, no brother. I am an orphan girl.

LUDDEN: That was singer/songwriter Tracy Chapman telling us about the music that’s been inspiring her these days. To hear past In Your Ear segments from other musicians and notable guests here in the program, check out the TELL ME MORE page at the new

(Soundbite of song, “Orphan Girl”)

Ms. WELCH: (Singing) …have not known them…

LUDDEN: That’s our program for today. I’m Jennifer Ludden and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Let’s talk more tomorrow.

Copyright © 2009 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR.

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