Inauguration ’09: Rock ‘n Roll on the Mall

Great big lineup at the Lincoln Memorial this afternoon, rock ‘n roll stars rockin’ out for “We Are One: The Obama Inaugural Celebration,”  2 p.m. :

Beyonce, Mary J. Blige, Jon Bon Jovi, Garth Brooks, Sheryl Crow, Renee Fleming, Mstr. Sgt. Caleb Green, Josh Groban, Herbie Hancock, Heather Headley, Bettye Lavette, John Legend, Jennifer Nettles, John Mellencamp, Pete Seeger, Shakira, Bruce Springsteen, James Taylor, U2, Usher, and Stevie Wonder. For those too far from the stage, the show will be broadcast on giant video screens.

To those of us without cable, waiting for the DTV transition with a sense of inevitability, there’s still audio coverage of the event at NPR. In fact, NPR has exclusive rights for the live radio broadcast, and the concert will NOT be archived at NPR, so listen (and record) today. (Transparency request: Did NPR pay for the exclusive rights?)

President-elect Obama speaks at the end of the three-hour program.

Not wanting to spend the time for what surely will be a good show, we instead caught the “Songs for Presidents” performance at the Historic I Street Synagogue.  From Amazon: “Rock balladeers Christian Kiefer, Matthew Gerken, and Jefferson Pitcher have performed a remarkable feat. They have composed and recorded 43 songs, one for each of the past and current presidents of these United States.” Expected hipster hipness, performed by talented songwriters whose knowledge of history stops at Howard Zinn: Republicans who opposed FDR were like the fascists and the klan, and Andrew Jackson should be remembered for genocide. Got it.

Live in Washington, DC!Yesterday we noted that Lincoln is the only president to have filed a patent, but that Jefferson was also an inventor — hence the most interesting song of the evening, “Thomas Jefferson: The Mouldboard of Least Resistance,” honoring Jefferson’s contribution to agriculture and eventually huge agribusiness — the designing of a more effective plow that lifted and turned the soil.

Next time, more Nellie McKay, please. (Here’s the official record company website.)

Best hipster song ever about a President — They Might be Giants, “James K. Polk.

And to everyone on the Mall, enjoy yourself and stay warm!


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