Archive for the Billy Bragg and Wilco Category

Vacation: Cooperstown

Posted in Billy Bragg and Wilco, Chuck Brodsky on July 21, 2009 by AmericanaPulse

Quick update from the road today…

My wife and I are vacationing in our nation’s capitol this week, but we took a little side trip up to Cooperstown, NY on Sunday to the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

Personal highlights for me at the HOF included seeing the Cincinnati Reds’ 1976 World Series Trophy, a Reds’ World Series ring from 1990, and the shoes Pete Rose wore when he got hit number 4,192 to break Ty Cobb’s all-time hits record. I’m a die hard Cincinnati fan, if you can’t tell.

We also saw a replica of Joe Dimaggio’s locker and a copy of a letter written to the Major League office by the umpire who made the famous out call when Fred Merkle failed to touch second base and cost the Giants the pennant in 1908. Here are songs about both of those players.

Billy Bragg & Wilco: Joe Dimaggio Done it Again (Buy Album)
Chuck Brodsky: Bonehead Merkle (Buy Album)

If a Song Could Be President

Posted in Adrienne Young, Billy Bragg and Wilco, Bruce Robison, Emmylou Harris, James McMurtry, John Prine, Neil Young, Over the Rhine, Scott Miller, Steve Earle, Willie Nelson on August 11, 2008 by AmericanaPulse

In case you hadn’t noticed, there’s a Presidential election this November. As we get closer and closer to election day, we’ll hear more and more bile and vitriol directed from one party and one pundit to another until most of us are ready for the whole thing to just go away. On the path to election day, and likely on the day itself, television news channels will be filled with talking heads screaming at each other over how the opposing candidate will lead our country to ruin. It will be anything but melodic.

But what if things were different? What if we could hum on election day and vote for a melody? These are the questions asked by Over the Rhine in their song “If a Song Could be President” from their 2007 release The Trumpet Child.

Over the Rhine – If a Song Could Be President (Buy Album)

“If a song could be President,
We’d hum on election day.
The gospel choir would start to sway,
And we’d all have a part to play.
The First Lady would free her hips.
Pull a microphone to her lips.
Break our hearts with rhythm and blues.
Steve Earle would anchor the news.”

I’ve been thinking about this song quite a bit lately. Not so much about a song becoming President… more about what it would sound like if Steve Earle actually anchored the news. Earle is known to be very opinionated and outspoken when it comes to politics. Would he be able to stay objective behind the anchors desk? Would he expose the stories that other news outlets avoid? A few of Earle’s songs already sound like newscasts….

Steve Earle – Amerika v. 6.0 (The Best We Can Do) (Buy Album)
Steve Earle – The Revolution Starts Now (Buy Album)

In addition to Steve Earle, “If a Song Could be President” also name drops a few other prominent Americana figures and casts them in various government positions.

“We’d make Neil Young a Senator…
Even though he came from Canada.
Emmylou would be ambassador.
World leaders would listen to her.
They would show us where our country went wrong.
Strum their guitars on the White House lawn.
John Prine would run the FBI.
All the criminals would laugh and cry.
If a song could be President.”

Again… this has me wondering what it would actually be like if these artists actually held these positions. Neil Young, like Steve Earle, would fight as a Senator to expose the wrongs he sees around him and work to bring those wrongs, such as the massacre at Kent State in 1970, to light. As ambassador, Emmylou would use her voice and her grace to ask world leaders for assistance when needed. John Prine running the FBI is a more curious choice. He could always disarm the criminals with story or a song, but he’d no longer be able to wear his “Illegal Smile.”

Neil Young – Ohio (Buy Album)
Emmylou Harris – If I Needed You (Buy Album)
John Prine – Illegal Smile (Buy Album)

I’ve also been thinking about other aritsts that might do well in certain government positions. We could appoint Adrienne Young to run the Environmental Protection Agency. Adrienne is a strong supporter of several “green” initiatives including sustainable agriculture. He debut album even came with a packet of seeds so the listener could start his or her own garden after buying the CD… and her boyfriend makes his own biofuel.

Adrienne Young & Little Sadie – Hills & Hollers (Buy Album)

James McMurtry might make a pretty good choice for Secretary of Labor. He has shown a great sympathy for the working man with songs like “We Can’t Make it Here.”

James McMurtry – We Can’t Make it Here (Buy Album)

Scott Miller would be Secretary of Education. Miller has degrees in American History and Russian and Soviet Studies from William & Mary. His background in history seeps into several of his songs including this one about an Allied truck convoy from WWII.

Scott Miller – Red Ball Express (Buy Album)

Just for fun… let’s have Willie Nelson run the IRS. I don’t see what harm it could do.

Bruce Robison – What Would Willie Do? (Buy Album)

Or we could forget all of this and follow the advice of this last song. Words by Woody Guthrie… music by Billy Bragg and Wilco.

Billy Bragg & Wilco – Christ for President (Buy Album)