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Leonard Pitts On Memories Of Laundry And Nat King Cole

Aug 7, 2012
Originally published on August 8, 2012 3:04 pm

The Mom and Dad's Record Collection series on All Things Considered continues with a memory of music and family from the Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and author Leonard Pitts.

Pitts says his childhood mischief was set to the music of Nat King Cole, often courtesy of his mother's own voice. One afternoon, he remembers, she was singing "Don't Get Around Much Anymore" while he played out back.

"One of my best memories of my mom is her doing the laundry and putting clothes on the line in the backyard and just singing that song," he says. "I think I was digging up the yard at the time, flooding ant nests, which I had a fetish for doing when I was 10 years old."

Pitts wasn't Nat King Cole's biggest fan as a kid, but he says he's grown to love the songs he grew up with.

"I had the typical teen rebellion: You know, 'Mom's music is no good,' " he says. "She wasn't feeling much for The Temptations or Funkadelic or The O'Jays, either. But as I've gotten older, and especially with the advent of iTunes, I find myself going back — and Nat Cole, I got the box set years ago. and every once in a while I'll break it out and listen to it."

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

And, finally this hour, a memory of music and family for our series Mom and Dad's Record Collection. Leonard Pitts is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and author of the recent novel "Freeman." When I asked him about a song he remembered hearing with his parents, he instantly recalled this song, Nat King Cole singing "Don't Get Around Much Anymore."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DON'T GET AROUND MUCH ANYMORE")

NAT KING COLE: (Singing) Missed the Saturday dance.

LEONARD PITTS: One of my best memories of my mom is her putting out - doing the laundry and putting clothes on the line in the backyard and just singing that song and me hanging out with her. I think I was digging up the yard at the time, flooding ant nests, which I had a fetish for doing when I was 10 years old.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DON'T GET AROUND MUCH ANYMORE")

COLE: (Singing) Thought I'd visit the club, got as far as the door. They'd have asked me about you. Don't get around much anymore.

PITTS: But I also remember that as just being a very, you know, peaceful afternoon with her doing the laundry and singing "Don't Get Around Much Anymore" and me, you know, torturing the ants.

CORNISH: Was she a singer?

PITTS: No, no. She had a lovely voice. My father probably could have been a singer, but he never sang. She was a big Nat King Cole fan. She used to always tell us to listen to the way he enunciated.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DON'T GET AROUND MUCH ANYMORE")

COLE: (Singing) But nevertheless, why stir up memories? Been invited on dates.

PITTS: She liked the fact that he was very proper in his framing of the words and she just loved that about him.

CORNISH: As you grew older, did you return to that music?

PITTS: Actually, I did. I had the typical teen rebellion, you know, mom's music is no good and, you know - and she wasn't feeling much for The Temptations or Funkadelic or the OJs either, but as I've gotten older, and especially with the advent of iTunes, I find myself going back. And Nat Cole - I bought - I got the box set years ago and every once in a while I'll break it out and listen to it and, you know, just really enjoy, particularly that song, "Don't Get Around Much Anymore." It's a great song.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DON'T GET AROUND MUCH ANYMORE")

CORNISH: Writer Leonard Pitts for our series, Mom and Dad's Record Collection. We're still collecting your stories about one song you learned about from your parents. It doesn't matter whether you loved it or hated it, you just need a story to tell. You can write us by going to NPR.org. Please put Parents' Music in your subject line.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DON'T GET AROUND MUCH ANYMORE")

COLE: (Singing) Darling, I guess my mind's more at ease, but nevertheless, why stir up memories? Been invited on dates. Might have gone, but what for? Awfully different without you. Don't get around much anymore. Awfully different without you. Don't get around much anymore.

CORNISH: You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.