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Music Interviews
10:49 am
Mon January 23, 2012

Winter Songs: Tap Dancing To 'Sixteen Tons' On The Hood

For the past few months, All Things Considered has asked for your memories of music that reminds you of winter.

For listener Veronica Horton of Vermillion, S.D., "Tennessee" Ernie Ford's "Sixteen Tons" reminds her of dancing in the back of a barn in Minnesota.

"When I connected with that song, I was living in a little town called Forest Lake, Minn. We lived in the country," Horton says in an interview with All Things Considered host Melissa Block. "My mom and dad were hard-working people, and you made fun with what you had. Come a weekend, my mom would have the radio playing and she'd always be singing along with it. I remember us kids always snapping our fingers and going along with Ernie Ford.

"It takes me back to Thanksgiving weekend, 1963. The country was in turmoil and it had only been a week since the president had been assassinated. I can remember going outside and just feeling safe. My parents always made us feel safe at home.

"We had ponies. They were out in the field and they had their winter coats, you know, they're all fuzzy and woolly-looking. We had an old car that kinda bit the dust, and my dad parked it out back of the barn, and that's where it was laid to rest," Horton says, laughing. "I just remember being bundled up. We hadn't had any snow, yet, and it was so cold. It was almost like you could feel it trying to snow, but it just wouldn't.

"I went outside; I had my Western boots on, and I climbed up on the roof of that car and I tap-danced out 'Sixteen Tons.' [It was] totally uninhibited and it was wonderful and my horses looked at me like, 'What is she doing?' And, you know, nothing can beat the feeling of dancing on the hood of an old car. You can't get a video game that does that to you."

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

And finally this hour, another Winter Song story. Over the past few months, we've asked for your memories of music that reminds you of winter. And, today, we bring you one listener's memory about dancing on a cold day in Minnesota to music sung by a man nicknamed Tennessee.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SIXTEEN TONS")

ERNIE FORD: (Singing) Some people say a man is made out of mud.

VERONICA HORTON: My name is Veronica Horton and my winter song is by Ernie Ford and it's "Sixteen Tons" and what do you get?

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

BLOCK: What do you get?

HORTON: (Singing) You get another day older and deeper in debt.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SIXTEEN TONS")

FORD: (Singing) Saint Peter, don't you call me because I can't go. I owe my soul to the company store.

HORTON: When I connected with that song, I was living in a little town called Forest Lake, Minnesota and we lived in the country. And my mom and dad were hard working people, and you made fun with what you had. And come a weekend, my mom would have the radio playing and she's always be singing along with it and I remember us kids always snapping our fingers and going along with Ernie Ford.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SIXTEEN TONS")

FORD: (Singing) If you see me coming, better step aside. A lot of men didn't. A lot of men died. One fist of iron, the other of steel. If the right one don't get you, then the left one will. You load 16 tons and what do you get?

HORTON: It takes me back to Thanksgiving weekend, 1963. You know, the country was in turmoil and it'd only been a week since the president had been assassinated. And I can remember going outside and just feeling safe. You know, my parents always made us feel safe at home.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SIXTEEN TONS")

FORD: (Singing) I was born one morning. It was drizzling rain.

HORTON: We had ponies. They were out in the field and they had their winter coats. You know, they were all fuzzy and wooly looking and we had an old car that kind of bit the dust and my dad parked it out back of the barn and that's where it was laid to rest.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

HORTON: So, you know, I just remember being bundled up. We hadn't had any snow yet and it was so cold. It was like almost like you could feel it trying to snow, but it just wouldn't.

I went outside and I had my western boots on and I climbed up on the roof of that car and I tap danced out "Sixteen Tons" and totally uninhibited and it was wonderful. My horses looked at me like, what is she doing? You know.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SIXTEEN TONS")

FORD: (Singing) You load 16 tons. What do you get? Another day older and deeper in debt.

BLOCK: How old were you, Veronica?

HORTON: I was 12. Yeah. And, you know, nothing can beat the feeling of dancing on the hood of an old car. You can't get a video game that does that to you.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

BLOCK: Well, Veronica Horton, thanks for talking to us about "Sixteen Tons" and your Winter Song and dance memory.

HORTON: Oh, my pleasure. My pleasure, Melissa.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SIXTEEN TONS")

FORD: (Singing) If you see me coming, better step aside. A lot of men didn't. A lot of men died. One fist of iron, the other of steel. If the right one don't get you, then the left one will. You load 16 tons. What do you get? Another day older and deeper in debt. Saint Peter, don't you call me 'cause I can't go. I owe my soul to the company store.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.