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Other Presidents Of The USA Favorite Music


Lauren Bacall And President Truman

With news of President Obama’s recent Spotify Summer Playlist still ringing round the world, I wondered what other Presidents might have been listening to. Thanks to a mix of temperament (I can’t imagine Reagan listening to Gangsta Rap, can you?), and age and history and, well, just plain ol’ fashion imagination, I got half way through this and thought… wait a second, why not google it? So I started from the top…

Herbert Hoover –  March 4, 1929–March 4, 1933: The man who presided over the Great Depression and couldn’t get us over it to save his life, would’ve been on a steady diet of feel good novelty songs of the age and, of course, George Gershwin. Add some swing and you have it. Oh, and, somewhat surprisingly, he was a country fan.

Franklin D. Roosevelt March 4, 1933  –  April 12, 1945: His Campaign song was “Happy Days Are Here Again” -a feel good depression era wishful thinker, and he awarded George M. Cohan the the Congressional Gold Medal on May 1, 1940. In Yankee Doodle Dandy, James Cagney portrayed Cohan portraying FDR while he was still President. Personally I bet there would be boatloads of Opera on the New York liberals playlist. I was right.  Apparently, he liked country as well…

Harry Truman – April 12, 1945 – January 20, 1953 – Truman was a very good piano player, who stopped at the age of 15 after realizing he wasn’t good enough. According to the “Harry S. Truman Library And Museum”: “His favorite composers were Mozart, Beethoven and Chopin, and he liked the music of Florodora, Strauss waltzes, Gershwin and Debussy.In October, 1945, at a county fair in Caruthersville, Missouri, Truman played the piano for a group of Methodist Women and winked at them as he said, “When I played this, Stalin signed the Potsdam Agreement.””

Dwight D. Eisenhower – January 20, 1953 – January 20, 1961 – Old soldiers don’t die they just become POTUS… here is a real treat pop pickers, Eisenhower’s favorite songs! Put together by his staff in 1954, the first real Spotify Playlist:

• America the Beautiful
• Annie Laurie
• Army Blue
• Battle Hymn of the Republic
• Deep River
• Dixie
• Drigo’s Serenade
• From Greenland’s Icy Mountains
• Goin’ Home
• God Bless America
• I’ll Take You Home Again, Kathleen
• In the Evening by the Moonlight
• In the Gloaming
• It’s the Army
• Jeannie with the Light Brown Hair
• Juanita
• Kiss Me Again
• Last Round-up
• Listen to the Mocking Bird
• The Lord’s Prayer
• Merry Widow Waltz
• My Maryland
• My Old Kentucky Home
• My Blue Heaven
• O Susannah
• Over There
• Old Man River
• Rosary
• Roses of Picardy
• Swanee River
• Smoke Gets in Your Eyes
• Swing Low, Sweet Chariot
• Tenting Tonight
• Tramp, Tramp, Tramp…The Boys are Marching
• There’s Something About a Soldier
• Wagon Wheels

John F. Kennedy – January 20, 1961 – November 22, 1963 – Well I coulda toldja that: JFK’s favorite song was written by one Irving Berlin and he preferred it as sung by gumba Frank Sinatra, “Blue Skies”. Is it worth mentioning how the distance between what it sounds like and what it says couldn’t be further? Also, he liked showtunes a great deal, “September Song” at the top of the list. More? Here is a Huffington post.

Lyndon B. Johnson – November 22, 1963 – January 20, 1969 – Yeah, if ever anybody should have been on a steady diet of the Western side of country and western it shoulda been this guy and yes, it was  But as compiled by the LBJ Library staff his favorite music also included waltzes and foxtrots and here is his favorite songs… yee haw…

-Battle Hymn of the Republic
-Onward Christian Soldiers
-America The Beautiful
-Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head
-Carolina Moon
-Stormy Weather
-Wagon Wheels
-Don’t Fence Me In
-High Noon
-Navajo Trail
-Hills of Home
-Songs from: “Oklahoma”, “Hello Dolly”, and the “The Sound of Music”

Richard Nixon – January 20, 1969 – August 9, 1974 – I got this off Billboard: “While his accordion skills were far from hidden, Nixon was also quite the accomplished pianist. He wrote his own concerto, aptly titled “Richard Nixon Piano Concerto #1,” which he played on primetime TV’s “Jack Paar Program” in 1963. Nixon also showcased his piano chops at various events including playing “God Bless America” on the Grand Ole Opry stage and accompanying singer Pearl Bailey in a performance at the White House.” But favorite music: Tchaikovsky and John Phillip Sousa.

Gerald Ford – August 9, 1974 – January 20, 1977 – You’d think with three 20 something sons and a daughter while he was in the White House (remember when Steven Ford met David Bowie in 1975), his taste might have been more varied, however the football playing lunkhead (actually, he was the sort of moderate Republican who would be a Democrat today)  was a jazz and swing guy. One more song, off a blog called “Serene Musings” (here) “A Boy Scout and later captain of his high school football team, Ford attended the University of Michigan, where he became a star defensive lineman and won two national championships in the 1930’s. He would later specifically request the Michigan fight song to be played at his funeral.”

Jimmy Carter – January 20, 1977 – January 20, 1981 – Yeah, we all knew about Dylan, right? I thought it would be a mix of spirituals and country but, here ya go: “Likes a wide variety of classical, bluegrass, country, and folk music, including favorites Bob Dylan, Allman Brothers, Paul Simon, and the Marshall Tucker Band. Regularly attends ballet, opera, and symphonic concerts. Favorite Hymns: “Amazing Grace,” “Blest Be the Tie That Binds,” and “The Navy Hymn.”

Ronald Reagan – January 20, 1981 – January 20, 1989 – Yeah, right. I have no doubt Dutch’s favorite music was a steady diet of the Rat Pack, but this is what he ‘fessed to:

Concerto #1, Tchaikovsky
Lara’s Theme (from Doctor Zhivago)
Firebird Suite, Stravinsky
Grand Canyon Suite, Ferde Grofe
Porgy and Bess, Gershwin


Christmas Carol: Silent Night
Hymn: Battle Hymn of the Republic
Movie Soundtrack: The Sound of Music (1965)
Song: Nancy With the Laughing Face

Finally, a big Merle Haggard and Oak Ridge Boys… but probably not the Beach Boys if memory serves (hahahahahaaaa)

George H. W. Bush – January 20, 1989 – January 20, 1993 – Not much here, but apparently he is a country music guy.

Bill Clinton – January 20, 1993 – January 20, 2001 – The sax playing budget balancing Prez didn’t include “Don’t Stop” by Fleetwood Mac here but otherwise? Coltane in the membrane.

Mickey Magnum – “In The Presence Of Jehovah”
Miles Davis – “My Funny Valentine”
Nina Simone – “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free”
John Coltrane & Johnny Hartman – “My One And Only Love”
Zoot Sims – “Summertime”
Mahalia Jackson – “Take My Hand, Precious Lord”
Igor Butman – “Nostalgie”
Judy Collins – “Chelsea Morning”
David Sanborn – “Harlem Nocturne”
Phil Coulter – “The Town I Loved So Well”
Van Morrison – “Brown Eyed Girl”
Carly Simon – “I Get Along Without You Very Well”
Stan Getz with Bahai – “Charlie Byrd”
Simon & Garfunkel – “Bridge Over Troubled Water”
Sarah McLachlan – “Angel”
Elton John – “Philadelphia Freedom”
Willie Nelson – “A Song For You”
Joan Baez – “Winds Of The Old Days”
John Williams – “Concierto de Aranjuez”
Art Tatum – “There Will Never Be Another You”
The President’s Own U.S. Marine Band – “Crown Imperial”
North Texas Wind Symphony – “English Folk Song Suite”

George W. Bush – January 20, 2001 – January 20, 2009 – Dubya’s campaign song was ” We the People,” sung by a group of country stars including Waylon Jennings, John Anderson, and Billy Ray Cyrus. The song wasn’t specifically written for the Bush campaign, but it seemed a good match, said Bush media adviser Mark McKinnon.” according to ABC News. Also, CNN took a look at Bush’s Ipod and found (here) “much country music, but also songs by Joni Mitchell, Van Morrison and the Knack.”. Yes, folks, The Knack.

Barack Obama – Assumed office January 20, 2009 – I reviewed Obama’s Ipod back in 2009 (here) and here is the Spotify Playlist (which I still plan to review in greater detail one of these days):

1. “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” – The Temptations
2. “Live It Up” – Isley Brothers
3. “Memories Live” – Talib Kweli & Hi Tek
4. “Tombstone Blues” – Bob Dylan
5. “So Much Trouble in the World” – Bob Marley
6. “Paradise” – Coldplay
7. “Tengo Un Trato (Remix)” – Mala Rodriguez
8. “Wang Dang Doodle” – Howlin Wolf
9. “Another Star” – Stevie Wonder
10. “Hot Fun in the Summertime” – Sly & the Family Stone
11. “Boozophilia” – Low Cut Connie
12. “Wherever Is Your Heart” – Brandi Carlile
13. “Good Day” – Nappy Roots
14. “Green Light” – John Legend
15. “Gimme Shelter” – Rolling Stones
16. “Rock Steady” – Aretha Franklin
17. “Down Down the Deep River” – Okkervil River
18. “Pusher Love Girl” – Justin Timberlake
19. “Shake It Out” – Florence + The Machine
20. “La Salsa La Traigo Yo” – Sonora Carruseles

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