We took our country back today. As people from all over the country celebrate a new government and history being made, musicians helped to make this day special. Between today and the days leading up to today, it really was a who’s who in the music world participating in the celebration. Yo Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman, Wil.I.Am, Sheryl Crow, Herbie Hancock, Stevie Wonder and so many more helped to make these last few history making days memorable. From classical musicians to rock stars, it was a day made complete through the artful expression of sound.
But if you could pick one song that signifies today, what would it be? What should it be? As I sit watching the inaugural ball coverage, it was moving to hear Beyonce sing her interpretation of Etta James‘ At Last. It was emotional to hear Aretha Franklin sing just before Obama was sworn in. Somehow, it seems impossible to think about a song that signifies today. I don’t really think fondly of Mariah Carey these days, but hearing her sing Hero seemed just a bit different tonight. Naturally, John Philip Sousa comes to mind during patriotic moments like today.
Regardless of what song should mark the moment, or what song should signify the day, I wonder what musicians like Bessie Smith, Louis Armstrong, Nat King Cole, Jimi Hendrix and so many others that had to struggle and fight racisim would think about today. So I can’t help but feel compelled to honor them for a moment. Just as today belongs to those of us who sought change, I want to pay homage to people that helped pave the way. These folks had to endure something that I can never fully understand.
So here is Jimi Hendrix performing the National Anthem, following by Ray Charles singing America the Beautiful.
It just seems appropriate to end with Louis Armstrong’s It’s A Wonderful World. It just feels like a wonderful, or at least a better world is upon us. Granted, time will tell just how this tale ends, but I want to savor the moment and what it represents.
That said, what song or songs do you think reflects today?