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What Are You Listening To?

Chris Harbaugh, a mail carrier from Chantilly, Va.
Susan Stone, NPR News /
Chris Harbaugh, a mail carrier from Chantilly, Va.

Every few weeks All Things Considered tries to find out what you're listening to. Most of the artists selected may not make the cover of People magazine. Their latest release may not be as newsworthy as Madonna's latest makeover. You might not even find their music on the radio. But All Things Considered find it in the CD players, computers, cassettes decks and on the turntables of people all across the country.

NPR'S Steve Inskeep talks to Chris Harbaugh, a mail carrier from Chantilly, Va., about his own picks. Harbaugh changed his musical taste a few years ago when he was working in a record store.

He liked Genesis, Yes and other "progressive rock" bands -- but the store owner really thought he should be listening to The Clash instead. Chris agreed, and still finds London Calling to be a great record. He's selected "Wrong 'em Boyo," off that album, as his first selection. It starts out sounding Bob Dylan-esque, then evolves into a ska beat.

Speaking of Dylan, Harbaugh's second selection is "Romance in Durango" off of the recently released album The Rolling Thunder Revue. The live album was originally recorded in 1975, and features Bob Dylan performing with Emmy Lou Harris, Roger McGuinn of the Byrds, Ramblin' Jack Elliott and others.

Finally, Harbaugh chooses the song "Sleep Alright" by the band Gingersol, a group from Los Angeles with some alt-country influences. Harbaugh says Gingersol's album The Train Wreck is Behind You is an example of great music that just doesn't get played on the radio.

What ties all these artists together for Chris Harbaugh? He says it's good songwriting -- less focus on guitar solos or bare navels, and more emphasis on the lyrics and the mood of the music itself.

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Steve Inskeep is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.
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