President Obama’s Greatest Musical Moments
By Jaime Lees
Tue, Jan 10, 2017
When Barack Hussein Obama was elected President of the United States, it seemed like anything was possible. The fabled American Dream was alive and thriving. We voted for hope and change and we got them both balanced on the shoulders of a man who seemed capable of expertly executing the job.
Now, with only days left on the clock until our country comes under the power of a known psychopath, we mourn what we’re losing and look to the future with appropriate horror. It seems entirely possible that President Obama might go down in history as not just the first African-American president but also the last great American president. Ever. He wasn’t perfect, of course. Like all politicians, he could be hugely disappointing and his public silence and inaction on some matters felt brutal. But it seems safe to say that very (very) soon we will look back on President Obama’s time in office as a golden era.
Not only was he an accomplished, charismatic and dignified leader, he was personable in a style that we’ve never before experienced. And one of the most effective and consistent ways that he connected with the American people was through music.
President Obama used music to showcase his personality and his compassion. He was never shy about expressing how deeply a song or a musician moved him. We knew his opinions on popular artists and it made him more relatable. We also knew that our president sometimes felt compelled to sing or to do a little shimmy. We even knew what he listened to on Spotify. And we loved it all.
Below is a collection of President Obama’s greatest musical moments. Thanks for the great work and the excellent music, Mr. President. We’d love another spin.
This should’ve been our first indication that President Obama was going to be bumping. Here he is as a candidate, dancing his way onto The Ellen DeGeneres Show, as is the tradition:
Here’s Chi-town’s own Barry O joining Mick Jagger, Buddy Guy and BB King at the White House for a few lines of “Sweet Home Chicago”:
Check out President Panty Dropper singing Al Green. That little bite of the lip! He really puts the “O” in Oval Office. It was kind of nice to have a President that was attractive and virile. (There’s no chance of that with the next guy.):
The White House hosted a tribute to Ray Charles, giving our main man another opportunity to showcase his pipes:
Many were charmed when Obama spontaneously sang “Purple Rain” to a kid dressed as Prince last Halloween:
He and Michelle also did an endearing little dance to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”:
President Obama invited Kendrick Lamar to perform at the White House on the 4th of July. Yeah, let that one sink in for a minute:
He awarded Bruce Springsteen the Presidential Medal of Freedom saying, in part, “I am the President; he is the Boss”:
He also awarded Bob Dylan the Presidential Medal of Freedom and then later gave us a peek into how the whole experience went down with Mr. Freewheelin’:
Let’s take a minute to appreciate that we had a black President who frequently celebrated music made by black artists while he was living in the Whitest of Houses. About damn time, right? Over the years President Obama has served as host for a wide range of African-American artists including Alicia Keys, Aretha Franklin, Beyoncé, Common, Janelle Monáe, Jay-Z, Jill Scott, John Legend, Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, Usher and the Roots. Here’s Obama singing “Jingle Bells” with Chance the Rapper at the most recent Christmas tree lighting ceremony. (Chance’s dad was Obama’s state director back in his Illinois days.):
In this clip the Obamas dance as a pre-Lemonade Beyonce sings the timeless 1941 classic “At Last,” made famous by Etta James in 1960:
Barack and Michelle danced a lot, actually. Dancing is where their passions meet, as it combines Barack’s passion for music with Michelle’s passion for getting active. In this video they’re trying the tango, but President Obama was known for dancing all across the world, from Alaska to Kenya:
And here they are having an impromptu boogie to “Uptown Funk” with R2D2 and a stormtrooper. They always seemed to have fun:
President Obama somehow even managed to make Jimmy Fallon’s moronic show tolerable for a few short minutes when he showed up to slow-jam the news:
Here’s a recent video from Usher of the President dancing to “Hotline Bling.” #Lit:
The President was also down with the kids, happily hosting his own festival called South By South Lawn on the grounds of the White House:
And here’s our boyfriend trying not to sing along with Aretha Franklin during Carole King’s Kennedy Center Honors ceremony. Was that a tear? And yes, even the President must stand when Aretha takes off her fur:
We saved the best for last. In this video, President Obama paused to sing “Amazing Grace” while presenting the eulogy for Reverend Clementa Pinckney after Pinckney and his fellow church members were executed in a racially motivated mass shooting in North Carolina. The universally moving song was adopted by southern gospel culture decades ago and it was the perfect expression of President Obama’s humanity and a grieving nation:
Until next time, Obama.
link: Riverfront Times
Interview Outtakes: Henry Rollins Talks Politics
Thu Oct 30, 2008 at 03:09:04 PM
Jaime Lees: I was wondering how it’s all been changing since you started [the tour] with the election getting closer? Because it’s mostly political, this tour, right?
Henry Rollins: In a way, it all is [political], in that if you’re kind of alive and living in the world at this point. But I don’t go and opine about George W. Bush all night. You have your opinion of him by now, after seven years and some months, and you don’t need me to tell you what you know, or what you think or need to think.
You’re a big person now and you can draw your own conclusions. But this election has been interesting in a lot of ways. For all of the obvious ones: the first time a woman has gotten this far with Hillary, and having an African-American, Barack, it’s made it very interesting. The debates, those things are never all that much to write home about. It’s been interesting watching kind of the body language and mannerisms of McCain. That’s been interesting for me.
Oh, especially that last time.
Yeah, I don’t think he came off all that well just on a human level. Where Barack, who I thought was going to be kind of a letdown in the debates, has surprised me by being way better and more together than I thought he was going to be. I thought he was going to be a big more stammering, but I think he really presented himself very well. I also think that people are kind of freaking out on Sarah Palin. She is really… [laughs]… she is somethin’ else.
That’s a nice way to put it.
Yeah, I’m trying to be generous. I don’t know much about her mayorial [terms] or careers as governor, but apparently she left Wasilla fairly bankrupt, and I have no idea what will be as far as this thing will go. Weeks and weeks ago I thought it was going to be McCain, and now I’m not so sure.
That’s the same thing I was feeling.
Yeah, I mean, I thought McCain was going to ratchet up the fear, which he tries to do. And I thought Barack was not going to be able to bring what he’s been bringing to the whole thing. And he’s surprised me, and I think the Wall Street thing was kind of a perfect storm moment for Barack.
It’s a bad situation, but it’s kind of looking better if you’re a Democrat in all of that because no matter what McCain says or who he tries to assign blame to, the Republicans and conservatives have a lot to answer for with the deregulation that brought us to that place. Of course there’s always people who will tell you that it’s the New Deal that brought us all to all of this, so that’s always going to be contested.
Do you feel like the audience is changing as the election is getting closer? Are you feeling different vibes off of them?
I’m not getting much of a feeling from the audience, though they’re showing up in wonderful numbers. It’s post-show when I talk to people outside you hear the concern. You know, how a lot of that stuff is really resonating with them. And a lot of people will be voting. I think at least one of the upsides of the Bush administration has perhaps polarized a lot of people in America, or perhaps polarized America, but it has gotten a lot of young people kind of off their asses to vote, which I think is a great thing.
I’ve never seen that happen in my time until now.
Yeah, and it took this. Well, since all of this is in the past now, as far as the two Bush terms. And we can’t undo it, it is nice to look for some good parts of it. And I think it got a lot of young people to realize [that] this is their country, this is their planet, this is their time and they really gotta weigh in. They can’t sleep on this. And that’s not bad, I’ll take that. ‘Cause there’s so much awful stuff to catalog the last several years and the more you look, actually, the more bad stuff there is to note. Like, a lot of non-congressional appointments that a president is allowed to make. When you see who is in some of these positions, it’s enough to make you howl.
No lie. I’m just now getting to where I feel like I understand the hippies a little better. Like, I’m starting to get what was happening in the 60s. I’m starting to feel it, with everyone talking about it all the time.
Yeah, absolutely. You see, uh, a lot of similarities in the protests and the rhetoric from both sides when you hear people talk about the invasion and occupation of Iraq. When you hear your Pat Buchanans and your Bret Humes and all of these conservatives, the rhetoric is the same. And there was so many people questioning and protesting the Vietnam War, you know, very vigorously [there were] a lot of cracked heads, you know, and you’re seeing the same kind of things being said now. You know, where presidents are getting the hard eye from the proletariat, and it’s interesting to see the same thing happening now. None of this is new. It goes in cycles, and at the end of the day people are people, you know, they protest and it’s interesting to be an American and have at least the Vietnam War as some perspective, and you know, hated presidents, like Nixon, to kind of run similarities between.
Yeah, no one can shut up about it and it feels good.
Yeah. You know, without a doubt, that you’re in the middle of something extremely important. You are part of it, you’re going to make a difference. I don’t think about how it will be judged later ’cause I’m too busy being in the present. But we are really cursed with interesting times at this moment.
When you’re reading all this news do you read something and think “Oh, I can’t wait to talk about that tonight”?
Sure! Yeah, there was some interesting moments in those [presidential] debates [that made me] so happy I had a gig that night. Or there was a night off during the vice presidential debates and I was in a gym on a treadmill listening to the debate with great interest. And I was making notes in my head the whole time I was listening and when it was over, I was like “Oh, I can’t wait for tomorrow.”