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TMM Editor: Esperanza Spalding's 'I Know You Know' Is My Theme Song


Finally today it's time for the feature we call In Your Ear. Throughout our years on the air we've been asking some of our guests to share the music that inspires them. And in our final weeks on the air we thought it would be nice to hear about the songs members of our staff are listening to. Editor Tanya Ballard Brown advises us on All Things Digital but we wanted to hear what's on her playlist.

TANYA BALLARD BROWN, BYLINE: I'm Tanya Ballard Brown an editor with npr.org, and this is what's playing in my ear.


BALLARD BROWN: Whenever I hear the opening beats of "I Know You Know" by Esperanza Spalding, I feel like that is my theme song because it's so kind of funky.


ESPERANZA SPALDING: (Singing) The way you look at me when you think I'm not looking, tells me your hearts a sleeping giant worn out by someone you loved before me. I see you're scared, unconvinced by what I've tried to say.

BALLARD BROWN: And I can envision myself, like, entering a room and this music is playing and the door is flung open and every one looks up, you know, because I'm dramatic like that. So "I Know You Know" the very beginning of it, the very beginning of it - Esperanza Spalding she did it with that song.


THE JACKSONS: (Singing) In this world there's so much confusion. And I've tasted the city life and it's not for me.

BALLARD BROWN: When I hear "Destiny" by The Jacksons - I've loved this song since I was a kid. I was introduced to it by my cousin Chris who is just a little bit older than me and used to drill me like Joe Jackson on all The Jackson songs and I had to know who was playing what what instrument, I had to know every hehe.


THE JACKSONS: (Singing) I want destiny, destiny. It's the place for me. Yeah, yeah. Give me the simple life. I'm getting away from here. Let me be me, come on let me feel free.

BALLARD BROWN: Every beat, every song, every note in this particular song, I don't know, it spoke to me even then because it was so soulful and at the time I was growing in my Michael Jackson fandom. I hadn't flowered completely as I have now.


THE JACKSONS: (Singing) I'm going to search this world until I find my destiny. If it's the rich life, I don't want it. Happiness ain't always material things.

BALLARD BROWN: Michael sings a song about, you know - if it's the rich life I don't want it, happiness ain't always material things. And that has stuck with me for a long time. It always - whenever he had his troubles, that song was pop into my mind about, you know, is this really the life that he had intended for himself and "Destiny" sort of pops into my mind. And I also think a lot about my destiny and what I am meant to do and meant to be.


STING: (Singing) How, like the fall she'll be gone in a day. Just as the leaves had turned gold. I was drawn to a sound that the wind carried down from an open window pane. And oh...

BALLARD BROWN: "Dienda" by Sting is just a beautiful song that reminds me of a really happy and a little bit sad time in my life. And I hope that everyone else loves it as much as I do.


STING: (Singing) And the harmony rings with the promise of spring on a Brooklyn street.

MARTIN: That was TELL ME MORE editor Tanya Ballard Brown telling us what's playing in her ear. That's our program for today. I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Let's talk more tomorrow.


STING: (Singing) To linger long after it's gone. Let the harmony ring with the promise of spring on that Brooklyn street. A Brooklyn street. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Tanya Ballard Brown is an editor for NPR. She joined the organization in 2008.
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