"Top Five" inauguration songs

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At noon Jan. 20, President-elect Barack Obama will officially be sworn in as the 44th president of the U.S. The official theme for the 2009 inauguration is “Renewing America’s Promise.” But slogans like this are a dime a dozen in a campaign, and they should be ignored. Instead, we should focus on the really important issues like what song will be played at the inauguration. There are rumors that horrible Paul Rodgers and Queen song will be played, but here are five better suggestions to get Obama’s first term in office started with a bang.

“Pick Up the Pieces” – Average White Band
Truly one of the greatest instrumentals of all time, this funky, bassline-driven, horn-laden romp is perfect for the inauguration ceremony. Not only is the title appropriate in relating to the shattered economy and tattered governmental structure the previous administration left, it is the perfect background music for any occasion. Not like Obama needs any “cool” points, but something as inane as a video of people doing laundry would be exciting with this song as the soundtrack.

“The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” – The Band
In reality, the song is a sad memory about the losses and heartbreak of the South’s fall in the Civil War. It’s a haunting and historical information-charged tune songwriter Robbie Robertson researched extensively before writing. “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” is eerily appropriate because a black man has finally triumphed and was elected to the nation’s highest office – a far cry from the days this song was written about (it’s about time). This would be the ultimate statement to those who are still racist bigots and white supremacists in disguise. Maybe we as a nation finally drove old dixie down. Plus, The Band is freakin’ awesome. Listen to The Band.

“Renegades of Funk” – Afrika Bambaataa & Soul Sonic Force
It’s likely the Rage Against the Machine version of this song has a much wider appeal, but as in most cases with covers, the original is the best. Plus, you have to give a nod to Afrika Bambaataa for dressing like “Macho Man”  Randy Savage with a futuristic pharaoh robe. In the song, Martin Luther King Jr., Chief Sitting Bull, Thomas Paine and others are tabbed “renegades” for their visionary nature and lyrics like “Now renegades are people with their own philosophy/They change the course of history/Everyday people like you and me/You know they have their secret notions/And time is endless motion” seem perfect for the inauguration of a candidate who embraces change.

“Won’t Get Fooled Again” – The Who
Pete Townshend has said he penned this song about a revolution that goes awry. In the beginning of the song, there is an uprising. In the middle, the powers-that-be are overthrown. But in the end, the new regime is just the same as the one that was overthrown. This is evidenced by the lyrics “Meet the new boss/Same as the old boss.” Though it would be unlikely Obama himself would choose this song, it seems appropriate. Will the change he speaks of take place? Time will tell, but sweeping change in a democracy is hard to achieve with strings pulling from both sides. Oh, and it’s a really cool song.

“Hold on Hope” – Guided By Voices
If John Mellencamp’s Chevy commercial version of “Americana” and small town values makes you wretch (and I hope it does), Guided By Voices exudes the realness of middle America because they’re all blue collar guys from Dayton, Ohio. Why Obama chose to play Mellencamp songs at campaign stops, I’ll never know, but if he’s looking for an appropriate soundtrack to what’s going on in America right now, look no further than this song. Though it was written more than 10 years ago, the lyrics “Where lies the chance we take to be/Always working/Reaching out for a hand that we can’t see/Everybody’s got a hold on hope/It’s the last thing that’s holding me,” are all too poignant.

Compiled by Jason Yurgartis.