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American Routes Shortcuts: Guilty Pleasures

Guilty Pleasures
American Routes
Guilty Pleasures

This week on American Routes Shortcuts, the tables are turned as host Nick Spitzer appears as a guest on his own show, confessing his musical guilty pleasures to producer Betsy Shepherd and telling stories through his favorite songs.

Betsy Shepherd: When most people say guilty pleasures they’re referring to something they’re ashamed of, as in lowbrow entertainment. What do you mean by guilty pleasures?

Nick Spitzer: Well, there are a lot of things that I love musically out there in the world, but that doesn’t mean I play them on American Routes.

BS: Alicia Bridges’s “I Love the Night Life”… I never pegged you for a disco man, Nick.

NS: Well no, actually when disco came out I was upset because, for one thing, I like live bands in nightclubs but when that came out I had to admit I just liked the sort of zest of the song the way she sings that falsetto.

I just thought it was great. It took you there. It was not just disco; it was a song about disco. I like songs that are about places where people have fun.

BS: Tell me about some of your favorite segues.

NS: My favorite sequence is where the great jazz guitarist John McLaughlin is playing in a setting with Joe Farrell called “Follow Your Heart.” It’s a very meditative sort of bluesy guitar progression. And then it goes to Jimi Hendrix’s “Rainy Day Dream Away.” Of course Hendrix is a virtuosic guitarist in his own sort. The saxophones kind of overlap and they have this sort of dreamy mood. And then on the other end of Jimi Hendrix, we go to Ann Peebles, which takes the rain out of the dreamscape to a feeling of sadness and sorrow, love and loss. I like how the segues narrate that. It sort of has a literary quality to it even if the words aren’t always explicit. The sound helps drive it along and tell a story.

BS: You close out the show with Richie Haven’s cover of the Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun.” What does that song mean to you?

NS: I did go to Woodstock with a group of about seven other people crammed into a big old station wagon and it took us longer to get the last twenty miles than the first hundred miles to get there. And it started raining and it stayed raining. Richie Havens’ story at Woodstock was because there was a slowdown in bands getting there and difficulties with traffic that he ended up with a really long set and in it he did some Beatles tunes. In a way that lucky moment really helped build his career. About a year later he records “Here Comes the Sun.” I just think its one of those really upbeat things. We think of sunshine chasing away blues.

You just want to keep attentive to the mood of how the program progresses and guilty pleasures is a good way to go in a lot of different directions: happy, sad, painful, hopeful and finally smiling as the sun comes out.

To hear the full program, tune in Saturdays at 5 and Sundays at 6 on WWNO, or listen at americanroutes.org.