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Maurice Ruffin: What Are You Listening To?

Maurice Ruffin of New Orleans
Maurice Ruffin of New Orleans

Each month All Things Considered looks to its listeners for musical inspiration. We've met a teacher, an animator, a construction worker, and a psychiatrist, to name a few -- all passionate about the music they love. Maurice Ruffin is a lawyer in New Orleans, the home of jazz. But he's decided not to choose any jazz selections for us.

His first pick is the song "I Am I Be" by hiphop group De La Soul from their album Buhloone Mind State. De La Soul is known for going beyond the tough guy posturing of many rap artists; Ruffin identifies with their real world stance and appreciates their storytelling. He also likes this track for its innovative use of samples and the live horn section featuring Maceo Parker.

Next comes a choice from the world of rock. It's "Ride a Black Swan" by Zwan off their Mary Star of the Sea album. This song features sparkling layered guitars and a driving drumbeat, but more importantly to Ruffin, it tells the tale of one man's spiritual awakening and new found appreciation of love. Singer Billy Corrigan is lauded for his poetic lyrics, but they are often depressing and dark; not in this song.

Finally, Ruffin chooses Mercury Rev's "Holes" from the album Deserter's Songs. The combination of symphonic elements layered with rock appeals to Ruffin; he spent some of his high school years playing in the orchestra when he wasn't on the football field. He learned to appreciate classical composers like Wagner and Ravel, and wondered why people didn't use these techniques in modern music. He some of that mix in The Beach Boys album Pet Sounds, but says Mercury Rev takes it one step further. Ruffin finds a positive message in all three songs.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Jennifer Ludden helps edit energy and environment stories for NPR's National Desk, working with NPR staffers and a team of public radio reporters across the country. They track the shift to clean energy, state and federal policy moves, and how people and communities are coping with the mounting impacts of climate change.