After President Obama crooning Al Green's "Let's Stay Together" at a Harlem fundraiser became an unlikely iTunes sensation, even topping the ringtone chart, history is now repeating itself with his version of "Sweet Home Chicago" caught on an episode of PBS' In Performance at the White House Tuesday night.
Besides Syria, the clip was at the top of the news this morning. And really, what other president has a better reason to sing the blues? He's been nothing but attacked since taking the Oath of Office three years ago. The best part was UK paper The Daily Telegraph mistakenly posting the song as "Sweet Home Alabama" on its YouTube channel.
Bet that took some explaining.
Although Obama's vocal chops might cause some voters serious trepidation even if he entered the Big Easy's Wednesday-night open jam sessions, his usage of popular music - especially R&B and soul - could turn out to be the best campaign strategy he's got.
Rocks Off is not an especially political animal. We follow the news, and keep up with current events, but the last real opinion about a piece of public policy we had was about the proposed payroll tax hike that's been in the news lately. We weren't thrilled about it, but considering we've been recovering from a heart attack, we're so happy to still have a job we would have gladly kicked in a few extra dollars to Uncle Sam. But the tax eventually got cut, and we're happy about that too.
In our eyes, that makes us an ideal voter, at least for Obama: Someone whose opinion is more influenced when the president sings an old blues song than when he does something we don't like. Unluckily for him - if not for the rest of the country - Rocks Off can't vote because our home address is on commercial property.
Look at what we could be facing come November: A man who is on record, on the Internet, as an Al Green fan versus whoever the Republicans wind up running. Almost to a one, so far the GOP candidates' musical efforts on the campaign trail have been a big whiff - if they're not demonstrating their almost complete lack of melody and rhythm when they try to sing at a campaign rally, they're using songs like Survivor's "Eye of the Tiger" that the artists don't want them to.
Seriously, some of the Republican would-be nominees' singing is so bad, it's hard to imagine even some GOP voters pulling the lever for them.
Music is like politics: On some level it's reassuring to know that your president, your commander in chief, is at least a man with a clue. Rocks Off is not saying we'd like to see Obama tape an episode of Austin City Limits, but the fact that he knows the words to "Sweet Home Chicago" is enough for us to forgive him some of his other faults.
Although we also hear that Newt Gingrich is a big fan of ABBA's "Dancing Queen."
In Performance at the White House: Red, White & Blues, featuring Buddy Guy, B.B. King, Mick Jagger, Trombone Shorty and Barack Obama, airs 8 p.m. Monday, February 27, on KUHT (Channel 8).
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.