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The Music is the Message
November 2, 2008 1:02 PM   Subscribe

The Soul is in the Soundtrack . . . Barack Obama's soundtrack, that is . . .

Margaret Talev writing for McClatchy, quoting Duke U's Mark Anthony Neal: "The music "really harkens back to the initial moments of the creation of that possibility, young white folks listening to those artists, dancing to that music, the beginning of school integration," he said. "The music is really a soundtrack to that. It stirs a nostalgia about when folks had hopes that we'd see a kind of society where we can elect a black president." Gavin Hewitt, writing for BBC, also explores the Obama campaign's use of musical messaging. Can a singer's opinion change your vote? Can one candidate use another's signature song and re-inflect it? And Carrie Brownsetein wonders "do you hear what I hear?" Rolling Stone wants to know what the candidate hears in his earbuds.

Oh, and Springsteen endorses (scroll down). Ralph Stanley too. If you want a taste of it, plus Springsteen's warm-up, tune in to Barack Obama's Cleveland rally starting soon (program slated to begin at 3:34PM EST). Live stream should be up soon on barackobama.com or CNN.com (No direct CNN video link yet; will post in comments when it comes online.)

Meanwhile, Axl Rose tells us it doesn't matter, because we're gonna get Chinese Democracy either way. (YT)
posted by fourcheesemac (41 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
Ack, 3:45, not 3:34, but no sign of starting yet and it's 4:07 EST now.
posted by fourcheesemac at 1:07 PM on November 2, 2008


The songs seem carefully chosen for their sound, tone and message. There's Curtis Mayfield's "Move on Up" and the O'Jays' "Give the People What They Want." There's the anthemic "Ain't No Stopping Us Now," and Earth, Wind & Fire, a band from Obama's town, Chicago, singing "Shining Star."...Stevie Wonder is one of Obama's favorite artists, and he's performed live at some campaign events this year. Wonder's 1970s hit "Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I'm Yours)" is played at every rally.

I cannot express how utterly awesome this is.

I watched the Minneapolis Super Tuesday rally online; when they started playing the O'Jays over the loudspeakers, I knew there was something special in the future.
posted by gimonca at 1:11 PM on November 2, 2008


Bonus Obama audio clips from the Rolling Stone interview.
posted by fourcheesemac at 1:15 PM on November 2, 2008


What about Parliament's "Chocolate City":

And when they come to march on ya
Tell 'em to make sure they got their James Brown pass
And don't be surprised if Ali is in the White House
Reverend Ike, Secretary of the Treasury
Richard Pryor, Minister of Education
Stevie Wonder, Secretary of fine arts
And Miss Aretha Franklin, the First Lady
Are you out there, CC?
A chocolate city is no dream
It's my piece of the rock and I dig you, CC
God bless Chocolate City and its (gainin' on ya!) vanilla suburbs
Can y'all get to that?
posted by Frank Grimes at 1:22 PM on November 2, 2008 [3 favorites]


Hurray! More titles to add to my homemade Obama victory freakout playlist!!
posted by brain cloud at 1:24 PM on November 2, 2008


Obama's twitter feed usually gives a heads-up when he has a rally (and a link to the live feed). Haven't seen anything today.
posted by desjardins at 1:27 PM on November 2, 2008


Obama's Twitter would make a great band name. or cartoon character. I'm not sure which.
posted by jonmc at 1:35 PM on November 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


I got the email today, hmm. He's already appeared earlier in Columbus (around 1 -- 60K people!) and is due on sometime in the near future in Cleveland, before finishing up in Cincinnati at 9 tonight. There may be some legal issues in streaming the Springsteen performance before the Cleveland rally. But keep your browser refreshed, because it's coming on sometime in the next hour, I'd guess.
posted by fourcheesemac at 1:37 PM on November 2, 2008


Tattooed Redneck Jason Hill is known as Cupcake to his friends and would appear to be an unlikely Barack Obama supporter. BBC video and transcript.
posted by fourcheesemac at 1:49 PM on November 2, 2008 [6 favorites]


What's really awesome is knowing that, in college, Obama was heavily into artsy "pop" stuff like the Flying Lizards and the first B-52's album. A friend also told me that Obama mentioned, long before he entered the national arena, that he had a pretty great appreciation for the Buzzcocks.

Gotta love that!
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 1:59 PM on November 2, 2008 [2 favorites]


Looks like the live feed is about to start. It's in standby mode.
posted by desjardins at 2:05 PM on November 2, 2008


btw, they picked the worst picture of Obama for the slideshow. "Look up my nose!"
posted by desjardins at 2:06 PM on November 2, 2008


Springsteen singing Thunder Road now CNN stream direct link:

http://www.cnn.com/video/live/live_asx.html?stream=stream2
posted by fourcheesemac at 2:09 PM on November 2, 2008


Sorry, live link:

http://www.cnn.com/video/live/live_asx.html?stream=stream2
posted by fourcheesemac at 2:09 PM on November 2, 2008


Also on MSNBC tv with really nice audio.
posted by fourcheesemac at 2:10 PM on November 2, 2008


And you want to listen. It's the most gorgeous thunder road i've ever heard.
posted by fourcheesemac at 2:12 PM on November 2, 2008


oh FFS I'm going to start crying again.
posted by desjardins at 2:23 PM on November 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


I swear to God, Obama must be funded by the Kleenex Corporation.
posted by desjardins at 2:23 PM on November 2, 2008 [6 favorites]


Bruce's speech was amazing, no?
posted by fourcheesemac at 2:30 PM on November 2, 2008


“And I have probably 30 Dylan songs on my iPod.” Though he’s partial to 1975’s Blood on the Tracks, “Maggie’s Farm” is “one of my favorites during the political season,” says Obama. “It speaks to me as I listen to some of the political rhetoric.”

Wow, what a perfect summation of the past eight years.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:34 PM on November 2, 2008


Maggie's Farm is on Bringing It All Back Home.
posted by jonmc at 2:53 PM on November 2, 2008


Maybe he meant "Idiot Wind"?
posted by fourcheesemac at 3:33 PM on November 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


SONGS FROM "YES WE CAN":

3. "Waiting on the World to Change," John Mayer
13. "Out of Our Heads," Sheryl Crow
14. "Promised Land," [...] Adam Levine of Maroon 5


I changed my mind, I don't think I can vote for Obama. As a white person, the incredibly funky and edgy artists he's chosen for his CD are just too scary to me.
posted by drjimmy11 at 3:42 PM on November 2, 2008 [2 favorites]


I love Dylan and I love song lyrics, but I have never for the life of me understood what "Maggie's Farm" is supposed to be about. Segregation? just having a shitty job?

Wikipedia says:

Maggie's Farm is best read as Dylan's declaration of independence from the protest folk movement[1]. Punning on Silas McGee's Farm, where he had performed "Only a Pawn in Their Game" at a civil rights protest in 1963 (featured in the film Don't Look Back), Maggie's Farm recasts Dylan as the pawn and the folk music scene as the oppressor. The middle stanzas ridicule various types in the folk scene, the promoter who tries to control your art (fining you when you slam the door), the paranoid militant (whose window is bricked over), and the condescending activist who is more uptight than she claims ("She's 68 but she says she's 54"). The first and last stanzas detail how Dylan feels straight-jacketed by the expectations of the folk scene ("It's a shame the way she makes me scrub the floor" and "they say sing while you slave"), needing room to express his "head full of ideas," and to be "just like I am" rather than "just like them."

I'm kind of at a loss for what this song has to say about our current politics. Personally, i would have gone with "the time's they are a changin'" Pretty mainstream by this point but still radical. Probably still too radical, actually.
posted by drjimmy11 at 3:46 PM on November 2, 2008


dr. jimmy: the latter. or simply about the frustration of living your life based on other people's expectations.
posted by jonmc at 3:49 PM on November 2, 2008


Actually I would go with this as a campaign theme song, if it was me.
posted by drjimmy11 at 3:50 PM on November 2, 2008


As this seems to be an Obama-filter post and I can't see it posted above, I'm going to mention the Obama's utterly excellent “There's Nothing We Can't Do” campaign video which is something seriously special and even sent shivers down the spine of this bitter and twisted cynic.
posted by HaloMan at 3:56 PM on November 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


So is Subterranean Homesick Blues on McCain's soundtrack?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:02 PM on November 2, 2008


Queen's "We Will Rock You," and the Rolling Stones' "Start Me Up" are sometimes played to get a McCain crowd fired up. Whitesnakes's "Here I Go Again" is a campaign standard, played several times a day.

jonmccain's soundtrack, obviously.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:20 PM on November 2, 2008


So is Subterranean Homesick Blues on McCain's soundtrack?

Yeah, it's on Side B of the mixtape he has in his Walkman.
posted by o0o0o at 4:24 PM on November 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


Whitesnakes's "Here I Go Again" is a campaign standard, played several times a day.

jonmccain's soundtrack, obviously.


Only when I'm humping a car.
posted by jonmc at 4:28 PM on November 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


Paul Simon has just released a pro-Obama ad for Progressive Future, "American Tune." I'm not the biggest PS fan, but it's pretty damn effective at tugging the heartstrings. (YT)

BTW, "Maggie's Farm" was an anthem for the anti-Thatcher left in the UK in the 80s. Many an early punk band covered it. There were all kinds of roman a clef-style readings of its lyrics that drew analogies to the indignities and brutalities of Maggie's Tory Farm. Bad times, bad times.
posted by fourcheesemac at 4:51 PM on November 2, 2008


Obama in Cincinnati coming up at (or shortly after) 9PM. Same link as above.
posted by fourcheesemac at 5:49 PM on November 2, 2008


I mean, even the dude's music choices are awesome. Can't we just anoint him now?
posted by Mental Wimp at 8:07 PM on November 2, 2008


I'm waiting for someone to set this to music.
posted by maudlin at 8:18 PM on November 2, 2008


(Err, site name linked above NSFW.)
posted by maudlin at 8:19 PM on November 2, 2008


Can't we just anoint him now?

Tomorrow. By voting.
posted by fourcheesemac at 3:15 AM on November 3, 2008


Complete Springsteen performance from last night is online at clipser.

Even if you are a McCain voter, and for some reason still a Springsteen fan, this was a *great* performance (and I've been a Springsteen nut since I was a kid, seen him live several times). Electric and beautiful. The Nebraska-style version of "Thunder Road" is a classic, as is the long responsorial "This Land." 100,000 people in the palm of his hand.

But I guess since he's from New Jersey he isn't a real American.
posted by fourcheesemac at 7:22 AM on November 3, 2008


A friend also told me that Obama mentioned, long before he entered the national arena, that he had a pretty great appreciation for the Buzzcocks.

*blink*

Okay. Hang on.

Sam & Dave, Stevie Wonder, the B-52s, the Buzzcocks, U2, and "Thunder Road"?

Jesus. At this point I'm thinking that even if you set aside the other reasons I'm voting for him, I'd want to give him my vote because the talent lineup for that inaugural ball would be one of THE MOST INCREDIBLY KICK-ASS CONCERTS IN THE HISTORY OF EVER.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:28 AM on November 3, 2008


@ Dee Xtrovert,(and MentalWimp, EmpressCallipygos): The Flying Lizards! I love this geek.
posted by queensissy at 11:21 AM on November 3, 2008


Egregious Les Misbarack.
posted by Miko at 9:06 PM on November 3, 2008


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