Today was an important day for American policy (prepare to be amazed as I connect this back to music). Barack Obama was re-elected for another four-year term, multiple states legalized gay marriage20 women took seats in the 113th Congress, and the 170 Million Americans for Public Broadcasting initiative and other NPR lovers celebrated the anniversary of the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967 (BAM it took less than a sentence for the music connection). While public broadcasting features more than just music, songwriting is still an imperative tool in the media.
Back in 2008 before Obama was even elected, he spoke at a Town Hall meeting at my high school. As a 17-year-old taking an AP Government class and watching some of my friends vote for the first time, I was very impressed by his speech…but also by the music selection for this event. I distinctly remember the unique string intro of raspy Ben Harper’s “Better Way” pumping up the crowd and thinking, “being President of the United States cool and all, but DJing this event would be the greatest job ever.”
Fast forward to this year’s election coverage. Last night, after hearing Beyonce’s “Get Me Bodied” and watching Obama’s headquarters in Chicago, these were the thoughts running through my head: 1) amiBeyonceyet? 2) Who wouldn’t be playing Beyonce right now 3) “being President of the United States cool and all, but DJing this event would be the greatest job ever” See a comparison?
That being said, I’m appointing myself as the DJ for this exciting election news. Some of the songs on this playlist were actually featured in Obama’s 2012 campaign, while others pay homage to great folk, political activists: Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, and Joni Mitchell. These singer/songwriters paved the way for future folk artists (Ben Sollee anyone?), and songs written in the 1960s are still just as relevant- I experienced this firsthand while seeing the Hard Rain exhibit at the Edinburgh Royal Botanical Garden last spring. It featured the work of enviornmental photographer Mark Edwards, looping Bob Dylan’s song “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” and “Times They are A-Changin'” from outdoor speakers. Very poignant, beautiful, and sad. Dylan and his cohorts still highlight important issues and encourage collaboration to find this “better way.” Obama and Al Green actually summed it up perfectly saying,”Let’s stay together.”