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Heavy Rotation: 10 Songs Public Radio Can't Stop Playing

Heavy Rotation is a monthly sampler of public radio hosts' favorite songs. Check out past editions here.

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LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

Time now for our music project Heavy Rotation, when NPR Music asks public radio music writers to pick a new tune. Today, we hear from Ally Schweitzer of bandwidth.fm from member station WAMU in Washington. She picked the song "Brother, Do You Know The Road."

ALLY SCHWEITZER: Hiss Golden Messenger is the name used by a songwriter, M.C. Taylor or Michael Taylor, who's based in Durham, North Carolina. And he plays as a duo and he plays also as a band. He's known for this sort of soulful take on country music.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BROTHER, DO YOU KNOW THE ROAD?")

HISS GOLDEN MESSENGER: (Singing) Oh, hey there brother don't you know the road? Yes my brother, I know. Oh hey there brother, don't you know the road?

SCHWEITZER: He wrote this song during a painful chapter in his life. This song deals with the idea of an enduring sadness that persists much longer than the actual event that has caused you to feel so miserable. It's the idea that sadness lasts much, much longer than the event itself.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BROTHER, DO YOU KNOW THE ROAD?")

HISS GOLDEN MESSENGER: (Singing) And a big black dog laid beside my door. Yes my brother, I know.

SCHWEITZER: The call and response structure of this song sort of deepens the misery that he's expressing in his lyrics. It's over and over again this relentless repetition.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BROTHER, DO YOU KNOW THE ROAD?")

HISS GOLDEN MESSENGER: (Singing) So I poke that old fiddle with my hands. Yes my brother, I know.

SCHWEITZER: It's a song for contemplation and for a time when you might be feeling the sort of heaviness, but at the same time you're sort of existing outside of it and you're able to sort of observe what you're feeling. (SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BROTHER, DO YOU KNOW THE ROAD?")

HISS GOLDEN MESSENGER: (Singing) Oh, it took a long time and the...

SCHWEITZER: I love this song because it is so profoundly miserable, but in a way that feels something close to redemptive.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BROTHER, DO YOU KNOW THE ROAD?")

WERTHEIMER: That's Hiss Golden Messenger's song "Brother, Do You Know The Road." Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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