By Steve Kelman

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The Lectern: The music of the Democratic convention

I'm in Denver to comment on the Democratic convention (in Swedish) for Sweden's TV4, the nation's largest TV channel (and I will be in St. Paul for the Republican convention next week).


I keep this blog away from partisan politics, but I do have an observation on the music played at the convention yesterday. Readers of this blog with a good memory (or Facebook friends who've checked out the music interests section of my Facebook profile) might know that I retain a fondness for the 1960s music of my youth -- and that for a number of years Congressman Tom Davis and I have challenged teams of my Master's in Public Policy students to a sixties rock 'n roll trivia contest.


Well, admirers of the music of my generation had a lot to admire in the Democrats' choice of music on Wednesday. When Obama was nominated, the music played to accompany the roars of the crowd was "Love Train" by the O'Jays (okay, that is from 1973, but still part of the '60s era in message). Melissa Ethridge sang Bob Dylan ("The Times They Are A-Changin'") and John Lennon ("Give Peace a Chance"). The crowd rocked to a tape of Aretha Franklin's "Chain of Fools." When Bill Clinton spoke, he was of course accompanied by his signature melody, "Don't Stop Thinking about Tomorrow" (also mid-70s) by Fleetwood Mac.


Personally, I loved this. But it was a strange set of choices, I thought. Obama has reminded people he wasn't even 10 years old during the sixties, and stated that he can go beyond the divided politics of that generation that affect both Clinton (Bill and Hillary) and Bush, and the rancor of partisanship among both Clinton and Bush haters. Maybe displaying my generation's music isn't the best way to signal that message.

Posted by Steve Kelman on Aug 28, 2008 at 12:10 PM


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