Monday, October 4, 2010

The Definitive Obama Playlist

Last week I noticed a blurb online about an interview that Barack Obama recently did with Rolling Stone magazine. In that article, he apparently discussed his musical preferences. Jackpot- my next blog post was practically going to write itself! All I had to do was wait for my next issue of Rolling Stone to be delivered, which occurred about two days later. After arriving home from work on Thursday, I sifted through the junk mail and there it was in all its glossy glory.


I probably should have heard an alarm bell sounding that the cover of the magazine read “Obama Fights Back” and not “Obama Spends 8 Pages Discussing Music.” To be honest, I didn’t really give much thought to the content of the article at all, assuming it would contain plenty of material for me. Over the weekend, I found a quiet hour to curl up with the article I had been savoring. I skipped over the boring pages leading up to it and quickly noted that it appeared to be a very long article- perfect! Things got off to a rocky start when the opening questions related to Obama’s feelings toward Republicans, followed quickly thereafter with a question about the Tea Party. Matters did not improve when the topic turned to healthcare (yawn). Dejected, I quit reading and started scanning only the questions until I got to one (on the last page of the interview, I might add) about what is on Obama’s iPod. There we go, finally something interesting. The answer: lots of Bob Dylan, Stevie Wonder and Rolling Stones. What??? Those artists are fine, and I don’t want to suggest we shouldn’t listen to the music of yesteryear, but I am always concerned when that is all people listen to because it means they’re missing out on all the good new music. Okay, I thought The Obama Playlist was going to present itself to me, but it was looking like I was going to have do some work on it. I’m sure Obama has a couple other things on his mind than keeping his iPod current, and I’m happy to do the heavy lifting. I consider it my gift to our country.

Fortunately, Obama’s aid, Reggie Love, must have concerns similar to mine because he has helped at least bring his boss into this century by putting some music by Jay-Z, Nas and Lil Wayne on Obama’s iPod. At least those artists gave me something to work with, although I really didn’t want to make a playlist of music Reggie Love would like. My goal was to create a playlist that capitalized on the type of music that Obama already knows he likes while bringing him a little more up to date and possibly stretching him a little. I’m quite certain he’ll want to load these gems onto his iPod pronto (or have Reggie do it, more likely).

Being a study of human nature, I wanted to kick things off with songs that Obama would recognize so he wouldn’t be scared off. Next, I insist that his playlist include something from John Legend & The Roots’ new album, “Wake Up!” since it was inspired by Obama’s 2008 run for president- that’s just good manners. Beyond that, I tried to look for songs that would feel a little like the sounds that are tried and true for Obama. He seems to be in touch with his soulful side, so the playlist is a bit heavy in that area, which suits me fine since I am an aspiring R&B artist myself (modest fantasy). I am particularly hoping he tries Raphael Saadiq since the album “The Way I See It” has songs featuring duets with both Stevie Wonder and Jay-Z (I also think that everyone should have “The Way I See It” on their iPods, incidentally). I threw in a protest song by Bruce Springsteen because I know he and Obama have a mutual love for each other. Jakob Dylan will at least bring Obama to the next generation of Dylans. As you can see, this was quite scientific and I therefore present to you with a high degree of confidence (drumroll) The Obama Playlist:

  • "Made You Look" – Nas
  • "Empire State of Mind" – Jay-Z, feat. Alicia Keys
  • "Nothing But the Whole Wide World" – Jakob Dylan
  • "Work That" – Mary J. Blige
  • "Killing Me Softly With His Song" – Fugees
  • "Air Force Ones" – Nelly
  • "Impossible Germany" – Wilco
  • "Wake Up Everybody" - John Legend & The Roots, feat. Common & Melanie Fiona
  • "Yes I Will" – Michael Franti & Spearhead
  • "Never Give You Up" – Raphael Saadiq, feat. Stevie Wonder and CJ
  • "Save Some Time to Dream" – John Mellencamp
  • "We Shall Overcome" – Bruce Springsteen with The Sessions Band (live in Dublin)

I’ll let you know when I hear back from Obama about which songs were hits and which didn’t quite make the mark. In case he is too busy to happen across this post on his own, I think I’ll also send it to Reggie Love just to be safe.

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