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Matt Berninger's First Solo Album Was Inspired By Willie Nelson's 'Stardust'

Matt Berninger
Chantal Anderson
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Courtesy of the artst
Matt Berninger

You might know Matt Berninger as the lead singer of The National, a band that I've often described as "sounding like an overcast day." I mean that in a good way, but the point is, his music, along with his distinctive baritone voice, has a melancholy quality to it. But Berninger himself? He's not depressing at all. In fact, during this episode, he was warm, friendly, and very funny.

For his first solo album, he's said he wanted to create something warm and welcoming, partly inspired by Willie Nelson's 1978 album Stardust. One way he did that was by teaming up with the producer of Stardust (and many, many other albums by artists like Bill Withers and Otis Redding) Booker T. Jones.

In this interview, Berninger and I chat about Willie Nelson, Booker T., and how he's been dealing with 2020's dread and depression.
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Raina Douris, an award-winning radio personality from Toronto, Ontario, comes to World Cafe from the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation), where she was host and writer for the daily live, national morning program Mornings on CBC Music. She was also involved with Canada's highest music honors: hosting the Polaris Music Prize Gala from 2017 to 2019, as well as serving on the jury for both that award and the Juno Awards. Douris has also served as guest host and interviewer for various CBC Music and CBC Radio programs, and red carpet host and interviewer for the Juno Awards and Canadian Country Music Association Awards, as well as a panelist for such renowned CBC programs as Metro Morning, q and CBC News.
Since 2017, John Myers has been the producer of NPR's World Cafe, which is produced by WXPN at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Previously he spent about eight years working on the other side of Philly at WHYY as a producer on the staff of Fresh Air with Terry Gross. John was also a member of the team of public radio veterans recruited to develop original programming for Audible and has worked extensively as a freelance producer. His portfolio includes work for the Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site, The Association for Public Art and the radio documentary, Going Black: The Legacy of Philly Soul Radio. He's taught radio production to preschoolers and college students and, in the late 90's, spent a couple of years traveling around the country as a roadie for the rock band Huffamoose.