Mike Huckabee's Musical Education

Jun 5, 2012
Originally published on June 5, 2012 6:53 pm

All Things Considered continues its "Mom and Dad's Record Collection" series with former Arkansas governor and presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. The politician currently hosts a TV show on Fox News and plays bass guitar in his rock band, Capitol Offense. His musical tastes are similarly multifaceted: Huckabee says he grew up listening to big-band jazz.

"One of the songs that I listened to over and over — and at the time not necessarily because I wanted to — was 'In the Mood' by Glenn Miller," Huckabee tells All Things Considered host Audie Cornish.

Although you wouldn't see a jazz standard on one of his band's set lists, Huckabee says he's come to embrace the sounds of the big-band era.

"It's pure America," he says.

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Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

You've known him as a governor and a presidential candidate.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

MIKE HUCKABEE: Man, we can fix anything in the South with WD-40 and duct tape except the tax code of the United States of America. It needs a total overhaul.

CORNISH: You might also know him as a TV and radio personality.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE HUCKABEE REPORT")

HUCKABEE: This is "The Huckabee Report." I'm Mike Huckabee from New York.

CORNISH: Maybe you've even heard about his rock band, Capitol Offense.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

HUCKABEE: You need to understand if you've ever been to a concert with Lynyrd Skynyrd, I'm sure you've heard it before. We're going to do for all of you in New Hampshire "Free Bird."

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: "Free Bird," yeah.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: "Free Bird."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "FREE BIRD")

CORNISH: Well, we invited Mike Huckabee to join us for our series Mom and Dad's Record Collection. We're asking people to tell us about one song their parents exposed them to and how it shaped them.

HUCKABEE: One of the songs that I've listened to over and over and at the time not necessarily because I wanted to was "In the Mood" by Glenn Miller.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "IN THE MOOD")

CORNISH: When they first played this song for you, was this something they sort of played in the living room or danced to? I mean, how did you first encounter it?

HUCKABEE: Well, I think it would be unfair to say they played it for me. They played it for themselves. They knew that I would have preferred anything rock 'n' roll, but we had a little record player, and my mother particularly loved music even though she didn't play an instrument. And she was especially fond of Glenn Miller. And, of course, I grew up, like so many teenagers in that era, doing everything I could to have disdain for anything that wasn't filled with a back beat and pure rock 'n' roll.

So, you know, it wasn't that I appreciated the music at the time, although I could certainly recognize, you know, that it was a very unique kind of sound. And to this day, one of the things that appeals to me is the signature sound of the Glenn Miller orchestra.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "IN THE MOOD")

HUCKABEE: He was the first to combine woodwinds as the primary instrument - in his case, a clarinet, the tenor saxophone playing the same melody line. The moment you hear a Glenn Miller tune, you know exactly whose orchestra that is playing it because of that Miller sound.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "IN THE MOOD")

CORNISH: It's interesting because I've seen you perform. You're, obviously, a bassist in your own band, Capitol Offense.

HUCKABEE: Uh-huh.

CORNISH: I remember seeing you perform in Iowa, and the set list was nothing like Glenn Miller at all.

(LAUGHTER)

HUCKABEE: No. But, you know, I embrace so much now the sound of the big band era because it was unique, and it's listenable. It's pure America, and I think that's one of the things that that I'm now very attracted to when I hear Glenn Miller music.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "IN THE MOOD")

CORNISH: Governor Huckabee, thank you so much for sharing this memory with us. I know you're a rock 'n' roll guy, so I'm sure your parents will be happy to know you've finally come around.

HUCKABEE: Glad to do it. Thank you, Audie.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "IN THE MOOD")

CORNISH: Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, a bass guitar player, who now has his own show on the ABC Radio Network and a TV show on Fox News. We're also collecting your stories for our series Mom and Dad's Record Collection. Write us about one song introduced to you by a parent and tell us a story that goes with it. Write us at npr.org. Click on Contact Us at the bottom of the page and put parents' music in your subject line.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "IN THE MOOD")

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And an update of the big story tonight: the historic recall election in Wisconsin. That race no longer that's quite so close. CNN had reported an exit poll with the two candidates tied at 50 percent. At this hour, they have adjusted those numbers to show incumbent Republican Governor Scott Walker leading with 52 percent. You can follow that story at npr.org, on our newscast and, of course, on MORNING EDITION.

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