Breathe in the news and interviews with NPR’s ‘Fresh Air’ podcast

Society & Culture October 12, 2021
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“My Fugitive” host Nina Gilden Seavey appeared on Podsauce Episode 4 to speak about her podcast and share her favorite shows. Nina said “Fresh Air” is at the top of her list for interview-based podcasts, which she enthusiastically recommends because they’re a joy to listen to.

NPR and WHYY produce “Fresh Air,” a daily news podcast. Hosted by Terry Gross, the show unpacks interesting topics and presents illuminating conversations to inform listeners. From politics to arts, society and culture, the topics vary from episode to episode. Listeners will hear from bright minds and learn about subjects that entice a vast audience.

A recent episode of “Fresh Air” explored Jane Mayer’s New Yorker article about Arizona’s continual search for voter fraud in the 2020 election. On the podcast, Jane speaks about the ‘dark money’ used to investigate President Biden’s win, saying it’s sourced from conservative, national organizations hoping to influence the 2024 election. Although President Biden was sworn into office, these organizations ride on Trump’s false claims. Multiple audits have been conducted, and no fraud has been found. Audit firms grasped at straws, looking at the ballot’s fibers to source their points of origin. They also examined the papers’ folds, to no avail. This episode also explains new voting laws enacted by states over the last several months.

Terry was recently joined by James Lapine in support of his new book, Putting It Together: How Stephen Sondheim And I Created ‘Sunday In The Park With George.‘ This episode went behind the scenes of Stephen and James’ epic collaborations. Broadway composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim scored the plays while James wrote the books for “Sunday In The Park With George,” “Into The Woods” and “Passion.” James directed the Pulitzer Prize-winning Broadway production of “Sunday In The Park With George,” among other notable works and achievements.

“Sunday In The Park With George” is a musical about a piece of artwork. This show’s conception began when James handed Stephen a postcard of George Seurat’s painting, “A Sunday Afternoon On The Island Of La Grande Jatte.” Two of the plays’ characters, both named George, are loosely based on the painter’s life. Seurat’s painting is a prime example of pointillism — an art technique where a picture is created through a series of colored dot patterns. Stephen was exceptionally inspired by the pointillist technique and translated this into his music.

James discussed how Gertrude Stein’s show, “Photograph,” informed his work. James and Steven began sharing more pictures and artwork to get ideas for the play. They spoke at length of crafting stories and music’s power as a storytelling agent.

Stephen would share and analyze the couplets of lyrics he was working on. James remarked it was “like being cross-examined by a lawyer.” James realizes that this read-aloud process was instrumental to Stephen’s process — a tool when figuring out character arcs in his mind and seeing James’ reaction before fully fleshing them out. James explains Stephen’s slow yet steady, perfectionist tendencies when completing a song to make sure it was intentional. Songs from the second act, “Children And Art” and “Lesson #8,” went through dozens of lyrical revisions before deciding on their final forms. James says this is because both songs were critical to the play’s themes.

“Children And Art” creates a pivotal moment. In this scene, George and his grandmother gaze into the painting. At surface value, the song is sung by his grandmother about the painting. But the lyrics are actually lessons relevant to George’s life. “Lesson 8” is similar. George sings the contents of a book found in his great-grandmother’s collection. And the lyrics point out what’s missing in his life and things he doesn’t yet understand.

If you’re interested in long-form interviews, be sure to check out new, daily episodes of “Fresh Air.”

Listen to ‘Fresh Air’

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