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Play It Back

Author: John Asante

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Everyone has at least one favorite song, but which ones have changed your life? Host John Asante talks with musicians, creators, and music lovers about their most cherished music memories -- and how discovering the perfect tune at the right time can make a world of difference.

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14 Episodes
As a Black kid growing up in a tumultuous home environment in 1970s Hollywood, singer-songwriter The Reverend Shawn Amos faced an identity complex. But when a friend introduced him to The Who's 1973 rock opera "Quadrophenia," he connected with one particular song about rebellion on a personal level. "Cut My Hair" helped Shawn find clarity, and eventually, his true love: playing the blues.Listen to "Cut My Hair" and all the songs featured on the show on our Spotify playlist. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. See for privacy and opt-out information.
Play It Back is *finally* back in action -- Season 2 drops this October! Check out this trailer for a taste of what's coming up. Get ready for a bunch of new stories about powerful songs from groups like The Who, Geto Boys, Radiohead, and Dixie Chicks that have changed the lives of music lovers far and wide.In the meantime, revisit episodes from Season 1, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.  See for privacy and opt-out information.
Music producer Benjamin de Menil's earliest music memory was hearing “Yellow Bird” played by a steel drum band in Jamaica. The experience was a formative one, kindling a raging love affair with Caribbean arts that would lead to his eventual career as a label owner, producer, and academy founder specializing in bachata, the popular traditional music of the Dominican Republic. See for privacy and opt-out information.
In grade school, the moment storyteller Marc Abbott fell in love with a particular Culture Club song, he just had to put it on a mixtape to impress a lucky girl. He was willing to go great lengths to record it at just the right time -- even if it meant messing with his father’s sacred music collection. See for privacy and opt-out information.
Musician, chanteuse, book lover, and performer extraordinaire Susan Hwang helps us celebrate our one year anniversary by sharing personal stories about her dad, Ray Charles, and the American dream. See for privacy and opt-out information.
At the age of 5, writer Jamie Brickhouse became obsessed with Peggy Lee and her song about escapism by means of “breaking out the booze and having a ball.” The song served as Jamie’s guide to several nights of debauchery while living in New York City. But things changed dramatically the night he drunk dialed the dazzling pop icon. See for privacy and opt-out information.
Native Kentuckian storyteller, choreographer, and live performer Mark Lamb counts the ways that he’s flown on the tails of Dolly Parton’s “Coat of Many Colors.” In his warm ‘n’ buttery voice, Mark waxes reminiscent about his brave journey from being a faux fur-sporting third grader, to a fully actualized performance artist and creative soul out and about in NYC today. See for privacy and opt-out information.
7 | Holiday Special

7 | Holiday Special


In this extra special episode of Play It Back, co-hosts John Asante and Jia H. Jung revel in the holiday spirit by rapping about their favorite (and most loathed) songs of the season. Add your choice picks to the official Play It Back Holiday Playlist Spectacular on Spotify ( just in the nick of time for Christmas, Chanukah, and the shiny New Year! (Photo: John Asante rockin' the sweater vest/peacoat combo, looking for that special girl to give that flower back in 1991.) See for privacy and opt-out information.
When London-based actor Laura Killeen worked at a florist as a teenager, she was introduced to a spacey, operatic pop tune from ELO that would serve as comfort and motivation when she needed it most. See for privacy and opt-out information.
NBC Documentary producer and host of "The Soundtrack Series" podcast creator Dana Rossi reflects upon how a terrible recent tragedy brought her back to a song that she first heard in 1994 and found applicable as a salve to any trouble in high school...and beyond. See for privacy and opt-out information.
When independent radio producer Todd Whitney first discovered Lil B, he couldn't quite pin the quirky Bay Area rapper down. Were his songs serious, or was it all an act? On this episode of Play It Back, Todd explains why he gave Lil B another shot, and somehow became a preacher of the gospel of "The Based God." See for privacy and opt-out information.
Storyteller Jia H. Jung takes time to mourn the departure and celebrate the life of one of the most immortal music makers of all time. She recalls her first encounter with The Purple One at age 5 in 1986 -- at 30,000 feet in the air, somewhere between Boston and Seoul. The voice of God, if you will... See for privacy and opt-out information.
Writer, filmmaker, and former financial trader Adam Linn shares how a whole different shade of Tina Turner guided him like a guardian angel in a rollicking (literal) blind drive over San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, during a dark time in his youth during the 1990s. See for privacy and opt-out information.
For the very first episode of Play it Back, we talk with writer Katie Shepherd about the power of Tina Turner's monster hit from 1984 -- and how it strengthened the relationship with her mother as she fought a life-threatening illness. See for privacy and opt-out information.
Comments (2)

Anastasia Doherty

I heard you.

Feb 12th

Lauren Drabble

my first episode...loving it! great job!

Aug 26th
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