Being a dutiful son of two college-teaching Democrats, I skate to one song and one song only on the drive to work each morning: Morning Edition. As much as I love listening to music in the car, NPR has a choke hold on my early-morning airtime. OK, so I change the channel like 2 seconds into the semiannual fund drives. Everyone has a breaking point, alright? Point is that I spend a LOT of time with Steve Inskeep and Renée Montagne, and as far as morning routines go, I’m pretty happy with this one. But now that the election is over, and my at-times-unhealthy appetite for political coverage is sated, I’ve been doing some thinking… is this really the best soundtrack for my ride to work?
I firmly believe that NPR is the best news source around, and that they’ve done a good job sticking to their journalistic integrity guns at a time when media outlets are increasingly choosing sides and competing for listeners’ and viewers’ fickle favor. So kudos to them — they keep me informed without veering too far one way or the other. But what does hearing about war and political division 15 minutes after waking up do to my brain? Could it be damaging in some way? Take this past Wednesday, for example. While I was stopped at a red light, a white Honda sedan pulled up next to me and was blasting Ke$ha’s “We R Who We R.” BLASTING it. AT 8:20 IN THE MORNING. And you know what? I was jealous. It sounded like fun. I started to wonder what my workday would be like if I blasted Ke$ha on my morning commute. Would I be in a better mood? Would it feel freeing? Would I start sporting glitter and a nose ring?
The good news is that, just as I was sinking into these weighty questions, Morning Edition served me its own musical breakfast — a fantastic story about about the history of A&M Records, which was founded in part by Herb Alpert of Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass. While it was interesting to hear about which artists he decided to sign and the circumstances of the company’s buyout, the most compelling part was how familiar the Tijuana Brass tunes sounded. I’d never sought out Alpert’s music, so these melodies must have been kicking around the back of my consciousness at some point, because I couldn’t wait to go online and find the songs that accompanied the story. The one I was most excited to find turned out to be “A Taste Of Honey” — the lead single from their most popular release, Whipped Cream & Other Delights. Connecting all these dots was extremely satisfying. I’ve seen that iconic album cover in record stores a zillion times, and I can’t wait to find my own copy. (I think I saw one at Goodwill a few weeks back, but it wasn’t there when I went to retrieve it last night.)
OK, so maybe I wasn’t as adrenaline-addled as the girl listening to Ke$ha, the second half of my commute on Wednesday was filled with my own type of excitement and optimism, and I promise never to doubt Steve and Renée again. Check out “A Taste Of Honey” below, snag Whipped Cream & Other Delights on iTunes here, and click here to donate to your local public radio station.