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

Son Little's new song "The River" is a favorite on WFUV. (Courtesy of the artist)

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

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Now let's hear some music in heavy rotation. Each month NPR Music asks public radio DJs and hosts to name a favorite new song. We feature these songs on MORNING EDITION and today, Rita Houston of WFUV in New York, where I used to work, tells us about a vocalist named Aaron Livingston. In the past, Livingston has collaborated with bands like The Roots. Now he's releasing his own music under the name Son Little. One of his new songs is called "The River."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE RIVER")

SON LITTLE: (Singing). Many a moon comes away at night.

RITA HOUSTON, BYLINE: Changing his name to Son Little really was the first step towards him developing his own sound. And it's soul music at its core.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE RIVER")

SON LITTLE: (Singing). Taking her clothes off, gonna to take off mine. Want it so bad it's like I'm out of time.

HOUSTON: Such simple drums and almost like, hand claps, you know, on the offbeat. But it just really pulls you right in because it's such an engaging rhythm.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE RIVER")

SON LITTLE: (Singing) Give me your love, baby. You've got mine. Now walk me through river, darling. Rock me in the river, darling.

HOUSTON: The sound of the song, it references the past, but it's not stuck in the past - it's so modern. And although there's clearly a blues influence here, the lyrics are so modern where, like - most of my friends have blown me off - Howlin' Wolf or Robert Johnson never would've used that lyric.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE RIVER")

SON LITTLE: (Singing) Most of my friends now, they've blown me off. Most of my friends gone and blown me off. Can't really blame 'em baby, I got lost. Can't even blame 'em baby, I fell off deep in the woods girl, where we get off. Deep in the woods, girl where we get lost.

HOUSTON: Son Little, he once described his sound as Wu-Tang sea shanty with The Beatles on background vocals. This is really pop music at its core, drawing from a bunch of different influences and not being afraid to be totally modern in ways that you wouldn't necessarily expect it, since it's primarily Roots-based music.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE RIVER")

SON LITTLE: (Singing) Come walk me to the river, darling.

INSKEEP: Sea shanty with The Beatles on background. That's Rita Houston of WFUV in New York, talking about "The River" by Son Little. For more heavy rotation picks, go to npr.org/music.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE RIVER")

SON LITTLE: (Singing) Twenty to seven baby, time to rise. Twenty to seven baby, time to rise. Heart is blazing blue electric fire. Heart is blazing blue electric fire.

INSKEEP: This is NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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