Two Sundays ago at the Jersey Shore, despite the fact that two close friends were visiting on a beautiful beach day, (close enough to be very understanding) I took three hours to go through my iPod -- my most frequently-played stuff -- and sitting there with my laptop, I put together a detailed playlist for our "Taking the Hill: Inside Congress" special, which aired last night. I'm afraid I'm a little particular about my music. Many notations said things like "upbeat vamp, big drums, good for walking or tracking shot, use :07-:17..." and so on. I submitted the list to the teams of video editors who were going to be "catching" what our producers and crews on the Hill were shooting. They had time to listen to it all and match music to my words, to the pictures, and to the mood. They made beautiful use of it. To me, the music became the heart and soul of the special. I knew that on songs like the great "Get Some" by Lykke Li, we'd be right up against some dicey lyrics. I also knew that one of my favorite old-time songs, "Big Bad John" (the great, epic story of a mythic coal miner) would find a home where the Speaker of the House is concerned. The song is the work of the late great Jimmy Dean. In his honor, I just this morning enjoyed his namesake microwave breakfast sandwich on Amtrak en route to Washington. I hope Congress isn't offended that Coolio's classic "Gangsta's Paradise" made for the perfect way to cover a shot of the Capitol. Moby had a good night with four appearances, Mark Knopfler swept with seven. They were embedded nods to my home State of Jersey from the talented "Little Silver" and the First Lady of Jersey, Patti Scialfa.
I worked hard on that hour of television. But here's something you must know: everyone else on the team worked harder. There were multiple all-nighters (we still don't know who left the muffins in Edit Room One, or who was sleeping under a cammo blanket on the couch near the elevator), some excellent Virgil's Barbecue catering, no fights, lots of smiles and a great job by a great team. I know they are proud of what they produced. I am proud to work with them.
Onward. Amtrak has again brought me to Washington. The heat of the Philippines, the politics of Italy (actually, that's not fair to Italy) and the unshakable feeling of Groundhog Day. We hope you can join us for tonight's broadcast.