On unfogged last weekend there was a call for inauguration themed mixes. I ended up taking more than the allotted time to post my entry, and it has its flaws, but I’m happy enough with it that I wanted to post some longer notes here.
I took, as my theme, songs that are, in some way, historical in their perspective. This was a challenging starting point. I had a conversation with RS several years ago that has stuck with me in which he remarked about how rare it was to find pop songs that had a definite sense of place (it is this, in part, that makes me love “Famous Blue Raincoat” — “New York is cold, but I like where I’m living / There’s music on Clinton Street all through the evening. . . .”) Most pop songs have no sense of at place at all, and many more have a purely abstract sense of “city” or “country.” Similarly there aren’t many pop songs that deal with specific historical themes. There are folk / blues / bluegrass songs that are explicitly historical, but I didn’t want those genres to dominate the mix.
I also quickly realized that most songs with a historical bent are unhappy because nobody bothers to write songs about incidents of peace and comfort. So I decided to add to the theme songs about music and culture as a unifying and uplifting force. That is, to be clear, not necessarily songs that are in themselves uplifting, but ones that deal with the relationship between audience / citizen and art.
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