Even if you've never heard of Billy Edd Wheeler, you might recognize "Jackson," a song he wrote with the help of songwriting heavyweights Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller back in 1963. It was a Top 20 pop hit for Lee Hazelwood and Nancy Sinatra in 1967, and got to No. 2 on the country charts that same year in a version by Johnny Cash and June Carter.
" 'Jackson' is a fun song," Wheeler says. "It's been my most famous and most lucrative song. It helped build our house."
The Uptown Vocal Jazz Quartet has been serenading audiences in its native Washington, D.C., across the country and even as far as France for more than two decades. But its members are finding ways to bring something new to their performances. Bandleader and co-founder Ginny Carr says she wrote the words and music to all 10 songs on the quartet's new album, Hustlin' for a Gig — a relative rarity in a jazz world defined by time-tested standards.
All summer, All Things Considered has been digging into Mom and Dad's record collection, asking listeners and guests to name one song that inspired them, changed them or taught them something about their parents.
Imagine being able to rock a piano so well that Aerosmith wants you as its touring keyboardist. That's what happened to Russ Irwin, and he's been sharing the stage with Steven Tyler and Joe Perry for 15 years.
"I'm staring at their backsides," he tells NPR's David Greene. "It's an interesting place to be."