Songs About Obama

22 10 2008

So, ’bout a month and a half ago someone points me to the Svarten blog, a site run from Uppsala, Sweden, that in one post provides what they describe as “the most comprehensive playlist on the internet with songs for Barack Obama.” It’s staggering because it’s got lots of great songs about Obama from around the world.  When I got there about a month and a half ago I think the number of songs was somewhere in the 150s. Now we look to be at 190.

Standouts for me include Might Sparrow’s “Barack the Magnificent” (Trinidad), “Obama for Change” by Kenge Kenge (Kenya), “Go With Obama” by Dr. Phoebe Abe (London, originally from Uganda), “We Got the Mo” by the Rockabelles (US), “Barack Obama” by Papa Michigan (Jamaica), “Aloha Mama” by Ukes for Obama (NYC), “Shalom Obama” by the Hip Hop Hoodios, “Viva Obama” by Norteno Version (accordion madness, people) and “Obama Nous Croyons” by Zaragu, Shae Fontaine, Michael K and Siyaya (NYC maybe?).  My favorite, though, is reggae artist Cocoa Tea’s “Barack Obama” (and not just because I heard that my friend Carter sang back-up).

But this list is hardly complete and we want more.  Yesterday, Jon of NYMIA fame came across this text contrafacta of “Over the Rainbow” by Clare & the Reasons on MySpace.  Yeah, it’s in my head and has been haunting my dreams. Then today, my friend Jordan’s mom sent me a YouTube video of  Jose Conde y Ola Fresca’s recording “Respondele a Obama,” a FABULOUS pro-Obama song.

ADDED Thursday Oct. 23: a NICE zydeco song, “Oui, On Peut” by Dirk Powell (YouTube link, thanks, SEM listserv!); Amigos de Obama has links (some of which we’ve heard before, but who cares?) to reggaeton, mariachi and norteño Obama songs; Mahalo America (The Barack Obama Song).

ADDED Wednesday Oct 29; Old Time Musicians from Virginia for Obama (the whole thing’s great, but make sure you keep on watching until the dancer comes in, he’s great):

Here at the archive, we really, really love these Obama songs.  If you, or anyone you know, knows of any that you think we will want to hear, let us know by posting in comments.  Ask around for us, willya?


ps. Dave, the world is waiting for your Obama Dub. Make it happen.

Happy 105th Birthday “Whistling Girl”

1 10 2008

Today, the stars aligned while I was alphabetizing the “J” section of the ARChive’s collection of 78 rpm records – a small collection here of about 8,000.  Tucked in between the Harry James and the James Johnson was a runty nine-inch record on Zon-O-Phone.  I pulled it out to take a closer look.  The cut: George W. Johnson’s “Whistling Girl,” Zon-O-Phone, C 5852.  More intriguing, however, was this sticker on the back dates the record to this day in 1903.  That’s 105 years ago boys and girls!

We’re not sure if this is the date the record was released or the date Victor bought Zon-O-Phone’s assets (probably the latter), but maybe more interesting that the synchronicity of the find is that George W. Johnson was one of the first African-American recording artists and was cutting records back when that meant singing the same song over and over into a horn. Unfortunately, however, his recorded legacy was relatively limited. He’s most famous for two songs, “The Laughing Coon” and “The Whistling Coon.”  “Whistling Girl” was another opportunity for him to show off his fantastic whistling skills.  (These last two link to recordings of Johnson’s songs by S.H. Dudley, the recording alias of Victor Records employee Samuel H. Rous who simply seems to be riding on Johnson’s coattails.)

There’s lots more on George W. Johnson in Tim Brooks and Richard Spottswoods history of African-Americans and the birth of the recording industry, Lost Sounds: Blacks and the Birth of the Recording Industry, 1890-1919.

Jessica Thompson

PS: Today is her last day for a while, folks, and we’re all sad — DTN

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