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Long before Jules Shear hosted the first Unplugged episode, independent radio stations were a proving ground for the concept, hosting specialty programs, which always included a live performance, of knowledgeable disc jockeys playing “progressive” music. Vin Scelsa at New York’s WXRK and David Dye at Philadelphia’s WIOQ spawned countless jocks who cop their shtick; the newbies, though, are much better at jabbering during song breaks than engaging in meaningful conversation. The second volume of In Their Own Words, a 16-song offering by a traveling circle of songwriters, hosted by Scelsa and Dye and recorded live at the Bottom Line, is proof that the format is better left to the masters. Each song is introduced by an interview with its writer. Conducting the bulk of them, Scelsa concludes each with a kindly “Would you play it for us?” Of course, the artists are much obliged. John Cale, Patty Smyth, and Suzanne Vega play their classics (“Paris 1919,” “Sometimes Love Just Ain’t Enough,” and “Luka,” respectively) and discuss the songs’ inspirations (Cale’s ghost sightings, Smyth’s daughter, and Vega’s neighbor). Sir Mack Rice and Felix Cavaliere tell the tale of “Mustang Sally,” a story populated by Rice’s well-known friends Della Reece and Aretha Franklin. All these tales prove that the craft of writing a song is a magical moment, sublime when described and demonstrated in the raw. Granted, most listeners won’t be inclined to play the talk tracks each time, but those are indeed the gems of the record, and stand up to repetition like a favorite bedtime story.—Tina Plottel