This summer, All Things Considered has been asking musicians and writers about their favorite songs to hear in the warmer months. Listeners have been sending in their favorites, so Melissa Block asked two of them to tell the stories behind their choices.
'Jambalaya (On The Bayou)' By Hank Williams
Gwen Roland lives in Georgia now, but she grew up in Louisiana north of Baton Rouge, in rural central Louisiana.
"This song takes me back to a night on a screen porch, probably around 1953," she says. "I would've been about 5.
"We lived on a little gravel road way out in the middle of nowhere, and the only light you could see for miles around was the single light bulb that was hanging over the ironing board where my mom was ironing. It was very late at night and very hot, which is probably why she was ironing on the porch.
"There really wasn't much room for anything except the ironing board, so that's probably why I was sitting under it, pretending to play piano on this heavy wire that ran from one wooden leg of the ironing board to the other."
While Roland beat her hands against the wire in time to the music, she says her mother was "boogie-ing up a storm to Hank Williams and to my piano-playing."
The song "Jambalaya," Roland says, "brings back a sense of peace, the security of being in that circle of light with a caring parent."
'Summer Breeze' By Seals And Crofts
Scott Anderson, from Lincoln, Neb., teaches trombone and the history of rock 'n' roll music at the University of Nebraska. He says that in August, hearing Seals and Crofts' "Summer Breeze" takes him right back to Stanhope, Iowa, the town of 500 where he grew up, in 1972.
He says he had to ride his bike about five miles to get into town, so he'd strap an AM radio onto the handlebars of his 10-speed. He heard everything, but he says some songs really stuck with him.
"The recollection is so precise: I can see downtown Stanhope, Iowa, in 1972," he says. "I'd look up at those apartment [buildings], having never lived in an apartment. I couldn't imagine anything more romantic than that."
"Summer Breeze" may be the rock 'n' roll history teacher's favorite summer song, but he says he's still embarrassed to admit it.
"It's a guilty pleasure," he says.