So ... Janet Reno wants to rock. I guess issuing dull, dry legal opinions and scaring young children doesn't have the allure it used to for the former U.S. Attorney General.
Well, she'll learn quickly that politics is a lot more forgiving than rock 'n' roll. I mean, the music business eats its young. If you make a mistake in Washington, you do some sort of penance and get a high-paying job as a lobbyist. It's pretty easy to bounce back.
But, what if you make a stinker of an album? You might wind up living under a bridge or something, that's what!
Actually, Reno isn't actually recording or playing in a band or anything (thank God!). What she's done is help put together a three-CD set of songs titled Song of America that serves as a sort of history lesson for those that never passed high-school civics.
Among those contributing tracks are the Blind Boys of Alabama, Devandra Banhart (photo at left by Galen Pehrson), the Black Crowes, Andrew Bird, Danielson, Jim Lauderdale and John Mellencamp. Due out Sept. 18 as a joint (she never inhaled!) release between Split Rock Records and 31 Tigers (through RED Distribution), the collection aims to take listeners on a journey through time from 1492 to the new millennium.
Running the gamut of folk, rock, R&B, country, classical, blues and even hip-hop, the set is the brainchild of Reno herself, who enlisted her niece's husband, blues-punk phenom Ed Pettersen (for a review of his new album, check out http://www.goldminemag.com/Default.aspx?tabid=825&articleid=6367&articlemid=
4972#4972Articles), for assistance.
"The historical detail of the songs fascinated me and I suggested that Ed (Pettersen) record a whole album of songs focusing on key periods in American history, in order to tell our story to young people who might find joy in learning history through music," says Reno, in a press release.
Now, I sincerely hope that it works out for Reno and that the collection does lead children to a greater understanding of history, but really ... are kids going to sit still long enough to listen to John Wesley Harding doing "God Save The King?"
The complete track listing for Song of America is as follows:
Lakota Dream Song Earl Bullhead
Once More Our God Vouchsafe to Shine Julie Lee
Let Us Break Bread Together Blind Boys of Alabama
God Save The King John Wesley Harding
Young Ladies In Town Elizabeth Foster
The Old Woman Taught Wisdom Malcom Holcombe
The Liberty Song Ed Pettersen
Yankee Doodle Harper Simon
Jefferson & Liberty The Wilders
Hail Columbia Steven Kowalczyk-Santoro
Star Spangled Banner Take 6
Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child Beth Nielsen Chapman
Peg and Awl Freedy Johnston
Sweet Betsy From Pike BR549
Trail of Tears Will Hill and Jehnean Day Washington
Declaration Of Sentiments Minton Sparks and Pat Flynn
Go Down Moses Fisk Jubilee Singers
Dixie's Land Mavericks featuring Thad Cockrell
John Brown's Body Marah
Battle Hymn of the Republic Joanna Smith
Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye Janis Ian
Thousands Are Sailing to Amerikay &nbs
p; Tim O'Brien
The Farmer Is The Man Otis Gibbs
Home On The Range Joni Harms
Stars & Stripes Forever Jake Shimabukuro
Over There Jen Chapin
How You Gonna Keep 'Em Down On The Farm Andrew Bird
Lift Every Voice And Sing Karen Parks
Happy Days Are Here Again Danielson
Brother Can You Spare A Dime? Andy Bey
Seven Cent Cotton and Forty Cent Meat Jim Lauderdale
Deportee Old Crow Medicine Show
Rosie The Riveter Suzy Bogguss
Reuben James Folk Family Robinson
Apache Tears Scott Kempner
The Great Atomic Power Elizabeth Cook and The Grascals
Little Boxes Devandra Banhart
The Times They Are A Changin' The Del McCoury Band
Get Together Kim Richey
Say It Loud, I'm Black and I'm Proud The Dynamites/Charles Walker
Ohio Ben Taylor
What's Going On Anthony David
I Am Woman Martha Wainwright
Youngstown Matthew Ryan
Streets Of Philadelphia Bettye LaVette
Wave Gary Heffern/Chris Eckman
The Message Shortee
Sleep, My Child (Schlof Mayn Kind) Judith Edelman/Neilson Hubbard
Where Were You When The World The Wrights
This Land Is Your Land John Mellencamp