Talk of the Nation
When Americans want to be a part of the national conversation, they turn to Talk of the Nation, NPR's live, midday news-talk program. Host Neal Conan leads a productive exchange of ideas and opinions on the issues that dominate the news landscape. From breaking news, science, and education to religion and the arts, Talk of the Nation offers listeners the opportunity to join enlightening discussions with decision-makers, authors, academicians, and artists from around the world. For two hours each Monday through Thursday, Talk of the Nation listeners weigh-in, share their thoughts and ask questions by calling, emailing, messaging through social media. On Fridays the conversation turns to the topics of science, with Talk of the Nation: Science Friday with Ira Flatow, focusing on news and issues about the world of science and technology. A long-time NPR journalist, Conan has been a reporter, editor, and anchor for NPR live events coverage. Conan played a major role in anchoring continuous live coverage of developments during the terrorist attacks and aftermath of September 11, 2001. His broadcasts are marked by their clarity, accuracy and eloquence.
In the final broadcast of TOTN, NPR senior Washington editor Ron Elving, senior business editor Marilyn Geewax and science correspondent Richard Harris discuss the big stories they're covering. Callers talk about the issues that have their communities and social circles abuzz.

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Mavis Staples has been performing for more than six decades. One True Vine i...
The gospel legend, whose new album is titled One True Vine, has a career spanning more than 60 years. She says of the record, made in collaboration with Wilco's Jeff Tweedy, "I've gone from the strictly gospel to folk to country, and here I am right back at home where I began."

From small country churches to the stages of the civil rights movement to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Mavis Staples' career has spanned more than 60 years.

The gospel legend has shown no interest in retirement. Her new album, One True Vine, is her second collaboration with Wilco's Jeff Tweedy.

"It's a totally different CD," Staples tells NPR's Neal Conan. "It's a return to my beginning. As far as I'm concerned, it's brought me full circle. I've gone from the strictly gospel to folk to country, and here I am right back at home where I began."

Staples began singing with her family band The Staple Singers when she was 13. She says her latest album reminds her of singing with her family, and that she always tries to sing at least one song written by her father, Roebuck "Pops" Staples, who died in 2000. One True Vine includes "I Like the Things About Me," a song in which her dad used to sing the lead.

Staples says it was a challenge to sing his part: "Pops, he was a singer's singer. I loved to hear my father sing. He just was so laid-back and cool. I always wished I could sing like Pops."

She says her father taught her to just sing from her heart and let it flow. "Just be Mavis," he used to say.

Staples still sings with her sister Yvonne. "When Pops passed," Staples says, "Yvonne tried to tell me to go on and sing, and she would take care of my business."

Staples says she got on the stage about three times, but something was missing.

"I didn't have any of the family on stage with me," she says. "I got off that stage and I said, 'Listen, Yvonne, you have to sing. I need to hear at least one Staples voice on that stage.' "

Yvonne still sings backup for her sister, along with two other singers.

Collaborating With Jeff Tweedy

Producer Jeff Tweedy wrote three songs for the album: "Every Step," "Jesus Wept" and the title track, "One True Vine." She says that on the songs Tweedy wrote, there were a couple of times when they lovingly clashed in opinions on style and delivery.

"He was lucky he was in the engineering room and I couldn't get to him to shake him," Staples says. "But I went on and did it his way, and I tell you I'm grateful. I learned something new."

Next, Staples says she hopes to make a country album, as well as a tribute to Bob Dylan: "I'm always trying to find new things to do," she says. "I don't know which way I'm going. My next CD might be country, might be Dylan, might be Mick Jagger. I don't know. I love a challenge."

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In a 5-4 decision in U.S. v. Windsor, the Supreme Court ruled the federal Defense Of Marriage Act unconstitutional. The court rules that supporters of California's Proposition 8 case did not have standing to bring the case to court, which means same-sex marriages in California may resume.

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