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Former President Bill Clinton launches podcast, talks with musician Marsalis

by Jerry McLeod | February 4, 2021 at 3:13 p.m.
In this image from video, former President Bill Clinton speaks during the second night of the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. (Democratic National Convention via AP)

Former President Bill Clinton has brought his well-known gift of gab to a medium where that gift is highly regarded, with Thursday’s launch of his podcast, “Why Am I Telling You This?”

Clinton’s first show, available now at iHeart.com or wherever you get your podcasts, is titled “Wynton Marsalis: How Jazz Explains Democracy.” Clinton — who gave his first presidential campaign a boost by tooting his own horn (a saxophone) on “The Arsenio Hall Show,” playing “Heartbreak Hotel” — chose a famous trumpet player as his first guest.

Here’s the reasoning, from the podcast’s notes: “After a year in which we were all forced to improvise, and some of the most fundamental ideas and foundations of our society have been challenged, there may be no better art form to help us understand these times than jazz. In many ways, jazz is the music of democracy at its best, and shows how we can find harmony with one another and work together to become a more inclusive, kinder, and equitable nation.

“In the premier episode of his podcast, President Clinton sits downs with one of the world’s most influential jazz artists, Wynton Marsalis, to hear powerful stories about Wynton’s life, how his recent works ‘The Ever Fonky Lowdown’ and ‘The Democracy! Suite’ are blueprints to help us decode and overcome the forces that divide us, and what he learned from his father, whom he lost to covid-19 early in the pandemic.”

The title of the podcast was first used on the podcast Clinton and daughter Chelsea started in 2019 through the Clinton Foundation. The podcast’s rebirth was teased in 2020, at around the time that his wife, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, launched her podcast, “You and Me Both.” That podcast also is published through iHeartMedia. Her latest episode dropped Jan. 18 and featured House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

There was no word on when the former president’s next episode will come out, but typically episodes drop weekly and on the same day of the week.

“Growing up in Arkansas just after World War II in a family that didn’t have a lot of money, most of our entertainment revolved around storytelling. Listening to my relatives and neighbors tell stories showed me that everyone has a story, and that everyone’s story has value,” Clinton said in a widely published statement announcing the launch. “I always thought that the main point of my work was to give people a chance to have better stories. Once you’ve heard a person’s hopes and fears, where they’ve been and where they want to go, your differences slip away — you become people first. Now more than ever, we need those kinds of connections.”

Listen to the trailer and the first episode here: arkansasonline.com/24clinton/.

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