Yesterday’s inaugural concert spurred all sorts of memories from me. When I was a child, we went a number of times to the Clearwater Revival Festival and other folk festivals where Pete Seeger was a headline. He is just ten years older than my Dad, and though my parents were not among those who became famous, they were hanging around the Village and my Dad was doing activist things at the same time. James Taylor’s “Shower the People” was a favorite when I was in junior high school. There was a boy from camp who played the guitar who I remember saying that “a little James Taylor goes a long way [towards getting a girl’s attention].” Bruce Springsteen, John Cougar Mellenkamp, U2, Bob Marley, Aaron Copeland, and the great oldies (played at the concert and listed as Obama’s top ten ipod songs), are part of the music of my high school, college, and law school years.
Not needing music or advertising to help me decide to vote, I didn’t pay much attention to how music was being used in the campaign. But here was the music, and it was mostly my music, too. The concert was very clever, designed to appeal to black and white, young and old, and populist — they were careful to have the performers whose oevre might not appeal to an older or younger crowd stick to songs with mass appeal.
Interestingly, it gave me an insight to those conservative guys from the middle of the country who said they liked W because he was the kind of guy they could hang with and have a beer. The concert was a concert I might have attended when I was in high school or college or law school. I had an insight about what it feels like to feel comfortable with the education and background of the President, but only up to a point. I enjoyed this trip down memory lane, but it did not impact my politics or how I would view the Presidency. There is a fine line between relating and agreeing, appreciating and accepting without question.