A presidential playlist

by Linda J.

I celebrate Presidents’ Day with gusto ever since I heard Dina Martina sing “The Presidents’ Day Song” during one of her December holiday shows in Seattle. It seemed like an excellent idea for a party and a playlist, so a few years ago I brought cherry pies (to perpetuate the wrongheaded notion that George Washington could not tell a lie about cutting down a fruit tree), some beverages and my Presidential Playlist to work on the Friday before the three-day weekend. My goal was to stay relatively upbeat – and also to see if anyone would notice the theme of the background music playing in our staff breakroom. Here’s what I still have on my iPod for impromptu presidential celebrations:

  • James. K. Polk by They Might Be Giants (perhaps the greatest presidential song ever written, and as they themselves have said, they “take the most boring information possible and force you to remember it.” Take a look at this video).
  • Campaigner by Neil Young (also Let’s Impeach the President, for historical context of a bygone era, of course).
  • Abraham, Martin and John by Dion.
  • Happy Birthday Mr. President, sung by Marilyn Monroe to JFK (I have it; you can borrow it if you’d like).
  • Solid by Ashford and Simpson (some crowd participation needed here to substitute “Solid as Barack” for “Solid as a rock …”).
  • Snoopy for President by The Royal Guardsmen (the Library doesn’t have that particular one, but who could forget Snoopy versus The Red Baron?).
  • Peaches by the Presidents of the United States of America.
  • The President’s Day Song by Dina Martina. (For local fans, you may recall the part where she calls out the names of her favorite presidents … George Washington, Abraham Lincoln … Winston Churchill, Franklin Eleanor Roosevelt … George Jefferson. Here are the lyrics in case you want to sing along with me.)

There’s also a Presidential Campaign Songs (1789-1996) CD for those seeking history, and of course Hail to the Chief (although that makes the playlist just a bit too obvious). And then there’s you, waiting to tell me about the songs I’ve missed and/or omitted. So tell me, what should I add to my Presidential Playlist?

This entry was posted in CULTURE, MUSIC and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to A presidential playlist

  1. Barry says:

    You should add Jonathan Coulton’s “The Presidents” to your list.

    http://www.jonathancoulton.com/wiki/index.php/The_Presidents/Lyrics

    Barry

  2. David W says:

    Great post: I think you pretty much HAVE to add the music from BLOODY ANDREW JACKSON (http://goo.gl/VRQmX), the rock musical about the founding of the Democratic party – the library has the original cast album: http://goo.gl/emOXM . (Sadly, we no longer seem to have a recording of Stephen Sondheim’s musical “Assassins,” which features among other things a duet between Squeaky Fromme and John Hinkley called “Unworthy of Your Love.”)

    My nephew will love this post – he knows TONS of presidential campaign songs throughout history. Here’s an interesting online exhibit from the Library of Congress on this: http://goo.gl/v3E9C

  3. Rebecca Bush says:

    “Funky President (People It’s Bad) by James Brown!

  4. Natasha says:

    We sang “Rap of the Presidents” by Teresa Jennings in elementary school, and there’s an Animaniacs presidents song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vvy0wRLD5s8

  5. David W says:

    …and I stray to books, but lest we forget Millard Fillmore, as we are in constant danger of doing: http://shelftalk.spl.org/2008/02/18/his-time-has-finally-come/

  6. David W says:

    Oh, I almost forgot my favorite: http://tinyurl.com/6dmd93m Jimmy Carter Says YES! (oh, and a FINE cover: http://tinyurl.com/ybo4wbb ) Both this and a FINE Richard Nixon song are on the wonderful American Song Poem Anthology, in the Library collection: http://tinyurl.com/68htygb

  7. Misha S. says:

    Here’s the first one I heard after Obama’s presidential win–Brother Ali’s “Mr. President (You’re the Man)”

  8. Bob T says:

    Randy Newman’s “Mr President (Have Pity on the Working Man)” should not be missed! http://seattle.bibliocommons.com/item/show/2180157030_good_old_boys

  9. broo says:

    Any song by the great jazz saxophonist Lester Young (whose nickname was “Prez”!)

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