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My Signature Song: 'This Must Be The Place'


Sometimes there's a song that you know will stick with you forever. For Jerrica Vowels of Louisville, Ky, it's "This Must Be The Place" by Talking Heads.


TALKING HEADS: (Singing) Home is where I want to be. Pick me up and turn me round.

JERRICA VOWELS: I guess the best way for me to describe it is it feels like I've heard it before. It gives me this kind of nostalgia. And it's obviously a love song but just the weirdest one you've ever heard.

SIMON: And it would become her signature song, as it helped her navigate an intense and perplexing time in her life.

VOWELS: I said, I was going to have a baby. I tried. I got pregnant. And so I guess there was just this nagging fear, like that it - since it was so easy, something was going to go wrong.

SIMON: Jerrica Vowels was terrified. She entered a kind of state of denial. She didn't talk about expecting a child. She stopped using the name that she and her husband had chosen for the child. She began to pretend that she wasn't pregnant.

VOWELS: So, you know, if I lost her, I felt like I - the grief wouldn't be the same for me.

SIMON: As her pregnancy and anxiety progressed, Jerrica Vowels listened to a lot of music. "This Must Be The Place" was often on repeat.

VOWELS: I had read that playing music when they're in the womb is good for them. And so I would sit in my room. And I would take the speakers, and I would put them up against my tummy. And I would blast the song.


TALKING HEADS: (Singing) The less we say about it, the better. We'll make it up as we go along. Feet on the ground. Head in the sky. It's OK. I know nothing's wrong.

VOWELS: Even though I wasn't trying to have a connection with her, in those moments, it was like, I'm doing something for you. I'm letting myself have this with you.

SIMON: Her daughter Clementine was born in April of 2016 - a little over seven pounds, a happy, healthy baby. But in the hospital, Jerrica Vowels found that she was still on a kind of emotional autopilot.

VOWELS: I guess all those months of just keeping that disconnect, I still had it on. But I can remember a couple of days after coming home, and I'm sitting on the sofa with her. And I - it just hit me like a ton of bricks. I had never loved anything as much as I love this human being. And it was painful. It was like a physical pain. And I started crying. And I just - I knew what everybody was talking about now.

SIMON: The next few months were trying. She began to care for her newborn daughter. But she and her husband separated and would soon divorce. She says it felt like her life had imploded. Then one day, when Clementine was about a year and a half old...

VOWELS: I was driving in my car on my way to work. I was going to drop her off at her daddy's house. And "This Must Be The Place" comes on the radio. I'm at the stoplight. And I turn around. And I look at her in her car seat. And she's just got this look on her face and the biggest smile. And she says, I like this song. I love you.


TALKING HEADS: (Singing) Hi-yeah...

VOWELS: And it made me feel like, you know, all the things I had done and all the disconnect that we had had, that the moments that I did sit in that room, the speakers up against my belly, that little connection that I allowed myself to have, it was enough because it really felt like she remembered.


TALKING HEADS: (Singing) There was a time before we were born. If someone asks, this is where I'll be, where I'll be.

SIMON: Jerrica Vowels of Louisville sharing her signature song, "This Must Be The Place" by Talking Heads.


TALKING HEADS: (Singing) Hi-yeah, sing into my mouth. Out of all those... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.