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On Being with Krista Tippett is a public radio project delving into the human side of news stories + issues. Curated + edited by senior editor Trent Gilliss.

We publish guest contributions. We edit long; we scrapbook. We do big ideas + deep meaning. We answer questions.

We've even won a couple of Webbys + a Peabody Award.

Tuesday Evening Melody: “Plain Gold Ring” by Kimbra

by Chris Heagle, producer

Kimbra’s refreshing cover of Plain Gold Ring is a love letter to Nina Simone and her classic song. Built up from loops of her own voice created live in studio (watch the mic on the left), this mellow groove is instantly infectious. Don’t be fooled though, the her powerful voice takes us along to the stratosphere before floating back to earth. And, now, the music of New Zealand’s up-and-coming, 21-year-old chanteuse is finally available in the U.S.

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Tuesday Evening Melody: “Seven Year Ache” by Rosanne Cash

by Trent Gilliss, senior editor

When I was in my tweens, Rosanne Cash was a staple in our station wagon and in our vans (yeah, my dad loved his Ford Econolines), on our icy trips to school in North Dakota or on our mountainous climbs up the Rockies during summer vacation. It was pure torture.

You see, I was a man of sophisticated rock and alt pop tastes. Give me Devo and let me hold on to dear life as KISS disbanded and made those awful solo albums. I used to squeeze my ears, longing to hear anything but Rosanne Cash with Jon Munson Rosanne Cash or her daddy, much less the Statler Brothers or any other country music my mom used to blast through those tinny speakers.

But 30 years later, the songs I remember most are many of my mother’s favorites. And I was reminded of her victory earlier this year at a performance of Wits, when Ms. Cash made a guest appearance. The first song she performed — the one I still sing to myself on the commute to work or when my baby boys would cry at night — was, yes, her 1981 crossover hit, "Seven Year Ache."

The version you’re hearing and seeing is actually a second take performed after the show was over, which is unfortunate. Although she forgot a few of the words the first time, the moment was part of the pure delight of being at a live show. She endeared herself to the audience, and dare I say the host John Moe and Sandra Bernhard, with her professional embarrassment and quiet humility. Nevertheless, this version is absolutely enchanting and we’re excited to be interviewing her on November 17th before her performance at Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis.

Funny thing is, now, three decades later, Rosanne Cash is still a staple in my life — my online life. Her witty tweets and conversant replies are a part of my daily reading. Who would’ve thought… the hub caps never fell off.

Photos by Eamon Coyne/MPR

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Esperanza Spalding Dazzles the Tiny Desk

by Trent Gilliss, senior editor

I’ve been holding on to this performance for a few days now, keeping it in reserve specifically for a Friday morning or afternoon. And what better way to kick off the back stretch to the weekend than with the delightful intensity of jazz musician Esperanza Spalding. In this video, she captivates the room at National Public Radio with her intimate Tiny Desk Concert.

I particularly enjoyed the way Patrick Jarenwattananon paints a lush scene of her commanding presence, including when she doffs her cap to reveal her magnificent shock of hair. But, I best like his rundown of her set list:

"Chamber Music Society" by Esperanza Spalding"…she mostly called original tunes from Chamber Music Society, her new album pairing a jazz rhythm section with a three-piece string trio. The two tunes bookending her set alternated the gossamer with the rich and darkly hued: the album opener “Little Fly,” her setting of a William Blake poem, and “Apple Blossom,” featuring her regular guitarist, Ricardo Vogt.”

Listening to this performance made it easy to buy her album. I’ve been listening to it non-stop. It’s perfect.

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