on this page, are links to numerous "Obama
songs", but after watching him become the President on Jan. 20, two other
songs stuck in my mind:
"Bourgeois Blues" Odetta's take (video
on the song written in 1937 by Leadbelly about his experiences in Washington
when he and his wife couldn't find a place they were allowed to eat. The
problem is that they were with Alan Lomax (who was recording Leadbelly for
the Library of Congress) and his wife. Neither white nor black restaurants
would accept the mixed group.
Odetta -- one of the great civil rights
icons -- sadly died last Dec. 2. Last fall, seriously ill in hospital,
she had a poster
of Obama put up in her hospital room to inspire her. She was determined to
perform at his inauguration. I believe her spirit
was in Washington yesterday.
"Only In America". Written by Jerry Leiber,
Mike Stoller, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil in 1963, the original version,
written for the Drifters, included the lyrics:
Only in America
Land of opportunity
Can they save a seat in the back of the bus just for me
Where they preach the Golden Rule
Will they start to march when
my kids want to go to school.
That didn't last. Atlantic's Jerry Wexler
said "Are you guys nuts? They'll lynch us!". The new, more upbeat version,
the writers felt would still work as ironic commentary, having a black group sing
lyrics that were obviously not true:
Only in America
Can a kid without a cent
Get a break and maybe grow up to be President
once again turned it down, and it ended up being performed -- quite
un-ironically -- by the white group, Jay and the Americans.
The story of "Only in America" is
here. Jay & the Americans perform it on
video (with a patriotic American introduction by Canadian Paul Anka).
April 2007, Willie finished the song, "A Peaceful Solution", something his
daughter Amy had dreamt she had heard him sing many years before. He's now
recorded five different versions of the song, and has made it available to
anyone to record or set to video. His slogan: "Share the dream. Share the
This is Willie's own "jazz
version".Click the button on the right to hear dozens of other versions,
or see this page for the
this year, Toronto (and Cameroonian-born) singer
Fojeba (Jean Baptiste
Foaleng) recorded what is still one of my favourite "Obama songs": "Fired
Up, Ready to Go".
But he's also passionate about what he sees
happening in his own adopted country; after observing the recent political
("The stakes are too high", he sings) the night after the nation
witnessed saw politically divided rallies across the country, he recorded a
new song, "Divided We Fall, United We Stand", and set it to a video.
Listening to Fojeba, seeing the images in his
video brings to mind Buffalo Springfield's classic -- and sadly, still
timely -- 1966 song, "For
What It's Worth"
There's battle lines bein' drawn Nobody's right if everybody's wrong...
What a field day for the heat A thousand people in the street Singin' songs and carryin' signs Mostly sayin', "Hooray for our side."
It's time we Stop, hey, what's that
sound? Everybody look - what's goin' down?
"Playing for Change" is a movement to
connect the world through music. A documentary, Playing for Change: Peace
Through Music will be released in 2009. A Variety review of the
film's showing at a Tribeca film festival began, "Wanting a movie to end
so you can run out and buy the soundtrack may not seem like huge
endorsement, but in this case it is".
"It's been a long
time coming But I know A change is gonna come"
More than 40 years ago, Sam Cooke
sang, "A Change
is Gonna Come". Now, change has come. The musical
world has been celebrating -- in anticipation -- for months before the election.
Here are a few goodies:
"Transpacific Sound Paradise"
(WFMU in NYC) features a 3-hour, all-Obama world music soundtrack
complete with playlist and some videos.
Not enough? Check
YouTube: over 1000 Obama music videos! Here are a few of my favourites:
has just recorded his tribute, "H.E. President Barack Obama". He says, "I
have been playing this song for a long time. I didn't want to record
it, or perform live till the elections were over and victory was
declared". Listen here.
Finally, Obama's own pick. The U.S. bookstore, Borders, had asked
various public figures for their top 5 book, music & film choices.
Obama's list included one CD: Kulanjan, the
classic 1999 recording featuring Toumani Diabate, Taj Mahal,
Kassemady Diabate, Bassekou Kouyate, Ballake Sissoko and others.
A couple of essays about the Obama
victory with a musical orientation both on the No Depression
ND editor Grant Alden
Election Day column about Mavis Staples and the
significance of Obama's election
Don McLeese in a
year end-column discusses it in the context of Sam
Cooke's "A Change Is Gonna Come" and other inspirational