November 14th, 2016
With the election just over, I thought I’d call to mind some songs about U.S. presidents and elections — songs that either celebrate or poke a little fun at being POTUS. We can all use a little levity about now, right?
The first is “Tell Me Why You Like Roosevelt” by Otis Jackson. Jackson first recorded this tribute song in 1946, a year after Roosevelt’s death, and re-recorded it many times after. A book called Roosevelt’s Blues: African-American Blues and Gospel Songs on FDR by Guido van Rijn talks about this song as well as dozens of other blues and gospel songs that celebrated FDR, who was an important figure for the African American community. The video below is for part one of Jackson’s song, but there is a part two as well. I found it on a great album called Hot Gospel (Get Right with God) 1947-1953.
The second song is by the great bluesman Percy Mayfield with Johnny “Guitar” Watsonfrom 1974 called, “I Don’t Want to Be President.” It’s a fun and timely song by Billy Vera’s favorite singer-songwriter. I found it on an Atlantic Records two-LP set from the 1980’s called Atlantic Blues:Vocalists.
Finally, Ry Cooder wrote “Cold Cold Feeling” about presidential blues on his albumElection Special. The 2012 CD, released before Obama’s second term, also included the sad lament about Mitt Romney’s poor canine,”Mutt Romney Blues“.
Tom Schnabel, M.A.