January 15, 2009

Will Johnson (Centro-matic) sings an Obama love song


There hasn’t really been an indie rock smash hit song about U.S. presidencies since … well, ever as far as I know. The guys over at iGIF are nerds (nerds I love, at that) who have a series called History Mixery which always titillates me, but other than that no one’s covering this material, man.

No one that is except the trio of J. Matthew Gerken, Christian Kiefer, and Jefferson Pitcher. These songwriters decided to write one tune about each U.S. president in a concerted effort during February Album Writing Month in 2006, emerging from the history book stacks with piles of demos.

These songs had fantastic titles like, “John Adams (Armed with Only Wit and the Vigor of the U.S. Navy)” and my favorite “William Howard Taft (There Was No Longer Use to Hide the Fact That It Was Gout).”

Obama clearly needs his own song to add to this effort, so with the help of Will Johnson (of Centro-matic) they’ve added the following  — a truly lovely tune, but then again, I so adore Will’s marvelously aching voice:

Obama (Someone To Wake) – Will Johnson / Christian Kiefer

Of Great And Mortal Men (43 Songs for 43 U.S. Presidencies) is available via the Standard Recording Company. You can see the full tracklisting of the physical album here; it includes artists like These United States, Denison Witmer, Rosie Thomas, Mark Kozelek and Califone:

Andrew Jackson (Benevolence) – featuring Califone

And for those living in our nation’s capital during these exciting times, the new Will Johnson/Obama song will be unveiled live this Saturday the 17th at Washington DC’s Sixth and I Historic Synagogue in a big concert featuring many of the artists on the album, and more.

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  • Fuck. yes.

    Angora Holly Polo — January 15, 2009 @ 4:48 pm

  • I just heard a story about this on NPR tonight – the guy who wrote the songs is a history teacher in Sacramento!

    Kristy — January 15, 2009 @ 6:41 pm

  • Will Johnson = lovely. These United States = amazing, and some of the nicest rogues around. Wish I was in DC for the show…

    scott — January 15, 2009 @ 7:20 pm

  • Pleasant enough track, though all this Obama-worship is more than a little creepy. Eek!

    Justin — January 15, 2009 @ 10:55 pm

  • Has Pearl Jam released their 2008 Christmas single yet?

    James — January 16, 2009 @ 6:58 am

  • Well, I can’t say it was a smash, but Blue Mountain wrote “Jimmy Carter” which was then covered by Go To Blazes. (http://music.yahoo.com/release/49650439) That’s the first song I think of when I hear ‘presidential songs.’

    Love your blog!


    Barbara — January 16, 2009 @ 10:21 am

  • james – nope, not as far as i’ve heard!

    browneheather — January 16, 2009 @ 12:13 pm

  • Has everyone noticed the man hasn’t done anything worth while in his political career,yet he is treated as the new messiah. I hope for the countries sake that he governs well, but let his actions and not words speak.

    Christoff — January 20, 2009 @ 8:53 am

  • I have all the demos… they were THAT good during FAWM. I can’t wait to get a hold of the final cut. Glad to see that W and Obama now have songs, too. ;)

    Kristine Jones — January 21, 2009 @ 8:35 pm

  • bright eyes- when the president talks to god

    kebs — January 30, 2009 @ 4:59 pm

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Bio Pic Name: Heather Browne
Location: Colorado, originally by way of California
Giving context to the torrent since 2005.

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
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