We hear Billie Holliday, Keely Smith and Leo Reisman (with Anita Boyer) asking the musical question, "What Is This Thing Called Love?" And, reporter Sean Cole talks about love with Joe and Helen Garland, who fell in love during World War II, but married other people. Thirty years later they met again, felt the same love they felt when they were young, divorced their respective spouses, and finally married each other.
Sarah Vowell tells "The Greatest Love Story of the 20th Century," Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash.
Sarah Vowell tells the lost story behind a patriotic song, "The Battle Hymn of the Republic." An early version of the song celebrated an American terrorist. She's accompanied by Jon Langford and the band.
Why is it that karaoke machines only have songs on them? If what they do is take a version of a public performance and allow the rest of us to give our own interpretations of the material, why aren't there other options, like the "you talkin to me?" scene from Taxi Driver, or Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech. Jonathan Goldstein and producer Starlee Kine find out why when they go to a karaoke club that has, along with all the songs, comedy routines for people to perform.
Sometimes in the classified ads one person will be seeking something that another person will be offering. This is especially true of the musicians section of the classifieds, where there might be a drummer seeking a band, and on the same page, a band seeking a drummer.
An 18-year-old named Tito talks about how he didn't have a choice about certain things in his life, especially his feelings and dreams...and his feelings about Eminem.
One way to measure the faith—the good old-fashioned faith—that people put in celebrities is to examine what people ask of them. Ann Hepperman has a story that gives a rare and vivid glimpse of what people want from celebrities...or anyway, what they want from country legend Willie Nelson.
A mortgage broker named David Philp discovers that his old punk band from the 1970s is hot in Japan. He decides to leave corporate life and revisit his teenage years by going back on tour, playing music for the first time in two decades.
We listen in on a ritual that happens in millions of families every week: kids getting dropped off at the babysitters. Six-year-old Dylan and nine-year-old Sarah explain what they can and can't get away with when they have a babysitter.After that, host Ira Glass has a few words about Mary Poppins, who is the Gold Standard of all fictional babysitters.
Ira talks with producer Blue Chevigny about how a prank caller taught her that when it comes to pursuing happiness, Carole King, the world of independent cinema and the New York City Police Department have a lot more in common than she ever imagined. He also talks with MIT Professor Pauline Maier, author of the book American Scripture: Making the Declaration of Independence.
Beau O'Reilly and his mother Winifred, who had 14 children, discuss her secret feelings about Johnny Cash and other matters on Mother's Day.
This is another story of a young person making a huge, life-changing decision about his own fate while still very young. Hillary Frank tells the story, about her own little brother—and his trumpet.
Sarah Vowell explains why so many popular songs portray Santa as a ladies man.
This American Life host Ira Glass and producer Susan Burton spent a week in August recording a suburban Chicago youth group at every stage of their very first mission trip. The teenagers were from Covenant Presbyterian Church in Chicago.
The true story of how a multinational chicken company turned a white man into a black man. The man they did it to? An old time Kentucky Colonel who liked to dress up as a Southern plantation owner in string tie and goatee, who happened to be their own spokesman.
Writer/Comedian Amanda Marks shares the story of a couple that didn't fall in love, didn't get together, didn't form a future. Then coincidence and fate kick in...confusingly.
If part of the impulse behind the Tiananmen Square uprising was the pure desire to feel like life had possibility, that the future had potential...that impulse was behind another movement. This one among young people in Eastern Europe back before the Berlin Wall fell.
A man in Amsterdam and a woman in Cuba fall in love, even though their governments don't want them to live together. This story was produced by Chris Brookes and Michele Ernsting for the World Views series of first person narratives, from Homeland Productions.
Host Ira Glass with jazz musician Ed Ryder, who was in prison in Pennsylvania for twenty years for a murder it was later proven he did not commit. Ryder played jazz in the pen and out of the pen.
Then Chicago-radio-listener and writer Alex Blumberg (he's now one of our producers) tells the story of encountering a corporation on its first day. It made all the human errors anyone does on a first day: exhibiting false confidence, pretending it wasn't the first day, trying too hard.
Writer Greil Marcus explains what rock fans use dead rock stars for.
Durrell was a professional musician. He toured Asia, Brazil, Canada, gigs in Paris.
A case study of how children are asked to live the unlived lives of their parents. Author David Sedaris had a father who loved jazz but played no instrument himself.
As a teenager, Sarah Vowell was not casual about music lessons — music became her life. She was in marching band, jazz band, Band One, symphony band, pep band and the Bozeman Recorder Ensemble.