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k.d. lang Looks Homeward on 'Hymns'

CD Cover of 'Hymns of the 49th Parallel.'
CD Cover of 'Hymns of the 49th Parallel.'

At The Hit Factory in New York, singer k.d. lang talks with NPR's Scott Simon about her new CD, Hymns of the 49th Parallel, her tribute to the great songwriters of Canada. She was inspired by her work with Tony Bennett, which produced the 2002 CD A Wonderful World.

She said during her tour and recording sessions with Bennett, he would always praise the great American songbook -- standards he grew up hearing and still loves to sing. Canada, lang realized, had a similar musical tradition, built on the songs of artists both familiar and unfamiliar south of the border.

"The geography seeps through the lyrics and through the melodies," lang says. "I just think that the environment and the vastness of the Canadian landscape is just so much a part of these songs."

Hymns of the 49th Parallel includes songs by Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Ron Sexsmith, Bruce Cockburn and Jane Siberry -- plus a new track by lang herself. During the interview, she performs Young's "Helpless," Cohen's "Bird on a Wire," and her song "Simple."

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Scott Simon
Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.
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