Music

Jimmy Carter, Hipster

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Rolling Stone tells the history of the presidential record collection:

goodoldboysDuring the waning days of the Nixon administration, the RIAA, the record companies' trade group, decided the [White House] library should include sound recordings as well as books. In 1973, the organization donated close to 2,000 LPs…dominated by the likes of Pat Boone, the Carpenters and John Denver. In 1979, legendary producer John Hammond convened a new commission to update the list for the hipper Carter administration. "They felt they needed to redress some of the oversights that might have taken place the first time around," says Boston music critic and author Bob Blumenthal, who was put in charge of adding 200 rock records to the library.

At the commission's first meeting, Blumenthal brought up Randy Newman's thorny dissection of Southern culture, Good Old Boys, to determine what restrictions the panel might face. "That was exhibit A," Blumenthal says. "And I was told, 'Oh, the president loves that album! Go ahead!'" So Blumenthal and his advisers—including Paul Nelson, then Rolling Stone's reviews editor—compiled a list to reflect "diversity in what was going on in popular music." They picked the Kinks' Arthur for its "theme of empire," and Blumenthal snuck in favorites like David Bowie's Hunky Dory.

The Reagans exiled the albums to the White House basement, and Rolling Stone's writer takes the opportunity to imagine Obama rescuing the records and cueing up a Dylan LP. But wouldn't it stimulate the economy more if the president spent a few grand converting the collection to CDs, then buying an iPod and converting it all over again? I'm just trying to be constructive here.

Bonus listening: I'm finding it enjoyable to imagine Jimmy Carter in an enormous pair of 1979 headphones, rocking out to Randy Newman's "Rednecks."

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  1. isn’t randy newman prohibited under the new rules against torture?

  2. Carter? Hip?

    DOES NOT COMPUTE!

  3. I vaguely recall a Trivial Pursuit question suggesting that Carter liked Led Zeppelin.

  4. dhex

    QFT.

  5. Randy Newman, hip.

    Does not compute.

  6. Randy Fucking Newman? Are you kidding me? Untalented people have no reason to live.

  7. What if those untalented people are filthy rich? That’s not a bad reason.

  8. ed,

    Are you suggesting pulling an Octavian scenario? The man was broke so he conspired with Marc Antony to kill a lot of rich people and their families. No relatives meant their wealth was de facto donated to the state. Which meant Octavian’s and Antony’s pocket books as they were the state.

  9. Naga, references to the second triumvirate are unwarranted. Who fills these roles? Who is Lepidus?

  10. Episiarch,

    Clearly it is Buffet. Pairing analogies is one of my many not so talented skills. Also, I like making references to the classics. You should know that by now. (wink)

  11. ….. president spent a few grand converting the collection to CDs, then buying an iPod and converting it all over again?

    I’ve done that a few times myself. I’m done buying the same albums over and over again.

  12. Obama may be pleased to learn that at least a few of his favorite albums – Bob Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks, Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run

    White people will believe anything.

  13. I used to live with this blond chick that was pretty short. She despised Randy Newman and his song Short People. I mean she was insanely rabidly angry. Veins would pop out on her forehead…….

  14. TWC,

    She sounds fiesty. I like her.

  15. “Short People” is a funny song; Sail Away and Good Old Boys are great albums; many of you are Philistines.

  16. “Jimmy Carter in an enormous pair of 1979 headphones, rocking out to Randy Newman’s “Rednecks.” ”
    That’s a cheap shot at Carter, and I usually approve of cheap shots at Carter.

    Newman: the most famous Jewish celebrity from New Orleans, second only to Richard Simmons….was “Rednecks” on Sweatin’ To The Oldies?

  17. “Short People” is a funny song; Sail Away and Good Old Boys are great albums; many of you are Philistines.

    What happened to you, Jesse? You used to be cool.

  18. She sounds fiesty. I like her.

    She was feisty…the kind of chick that gets you into a fist fight in a parking lot because she mouthed off to the big guy in the 4WD for taking two parking places.

  19. Speaking of boogey piano, Billy Powell died last night.

  20. “”Short People” is a funny song; Sail Away and Good Old Boys are great albums; many of you are Philistines.”

    Goddamn right. Those are two certified classics.

  21. Sail Away and Good Old Boys are great albums

    As are 12 Songs, Little Criminals, and Born Again.

    many of you are Philistines.

    Obviously.

  22. Randy Newman didn’t know the difference his own @$$ and a hole in the ground, nor between a bigot and a redneck. Most of the rednecks I’ve know are like the ones described by Jeff Foxworthy. On the other hand, I’ve known a few liberal bigots. Newman’s a doofus.

    Besides, most of Randy Newman’s songs are actually folk songs. ‘Nuff said.

  23. Sail Away and Good Old Boys are great albums; many of you are Philistines.

    QFT

  24. Randy Newman didn’t know the difference his own @$$ and a hole in the ground, nor between a bigot and a redneck. Most of the rednecks I’ve know are like the ones described by Jeff Foxworthy. On the other hand, I’ve known a few liberal bigots. Newman’s a doofus.

    I think you missed the point of the song. Did you listen to the end?

  25. Randy Newman didn’t know the difference his own @$$ and a hole in the ground, nor between a bigot and a redneck. Most of the rednecks I’ve know are like the ones described by Jeff Foxworthy. On the other hand, I’ve known a few liberal bigots. Newman’s a doofus.

    If you think “Rednecks” or Good Old Boys were unmitigated slams on all Southern people, you missed the point.

    Lifelong Alabamian, and Good Old Boys is in my top 5 desert island albums.

  26. “”Short People” is a funny song; Sail Away and Good Old Boys are great albums; many of you are Philistines.”

    Damn straight.

    “Political Science”

    No one likes us-I don’t know why
    We may not be perfect, but heaven knows we try
    But all around, even our old friends put us down
    Let’s drop the big one and see what happens

    We give them money-but are they grateful?
    No, they’re spiteful and they’re hateful
    They don’t respect us-so let’s surprise them
    We’ll drop the big one and pulverize them

    Asia’s crowded and Europe’s too old
    Africa is far too hot
    And Canada’s too cold
    And South America stole our name
    Let’s drop the big one
    There’ll be no one left to blame us

    We’ll save Australia
    Don’t wanna hurt no kangaroo
    We’ll build an All American amusement park there
    They got surfin’, too

    Boom goes London and boom Paris
    More room for you and more room for me
    And every city the whole world round
    Will just be another American town
    Oh, how peaceful it will be
    We’ll set everybody free
    You’ll wear a Japanese kimono
    And there’ll be Italian shoes for me

    They all hate us anyhow
    So let’s drop the big one now
    Let’s drop the big one now

  27. Not only are the older albums Jesse mentions awesome, his newer work is also pretty awesome. I haven’t heard Harps and Angels yet, but Bad Love has several songs (like My Country, Shame, I Miss You, and I Want Everyone To Like Me) that I think hold up pretty well against his best older stuff. And the Randy Newman Songbook has some really amazing reworkings of older songs (although it was lame that he raised the age of the girl in It’s Money That I Love from 16 to 19).

  28. Lifelong Alabamian, and Good Old Boys is in my top 5 desert island albums.

    Lifelong Texan, here. Good Old Boys is very cool.

  29. “Short People” is a funny song; Sail Away and Good Old Boys are great albums; many of you are Philistines.

    Jesse Walker wins Hit ‘n’ Run.

  30. Almost all of Newman’s work from the late 60s through the late 70s is great or near-great. Certainly Sail Away and Good Old Boys are in the former category.

    That is one great record collection. Wish we had a President worthy of it sometime….

  31. ed,

    Are you suggesting pulling an Octavian scenario? The man was broke so he conspired with Marc Antony to kill a lot of rich people and their families. No relatives meant their wealth was de facto donated to the state. Which meant Octavian’s and Antony’s pocket books as they were the state.

    I must strenuously object to your description of this as an Octavian scenario. The tactic of proscribing the rich and confiscating their wealth was practiced by yours truly long before that young whelp was even born.

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