Monday, January 19, 2009

Inaugural Celebration Concert

A friend's comments on the Inaugural Celebration Concert yesterday:
I watched the concert as I cleaned and made dinner, though I got choked up a few times.  The actors reading quotes and tributes to America's great principles and Lincoln, the Roosevelts, and Kennedy were alternately stirring and flat.
But the musical performances, though not always musically great, were very moving.

Bruce Springsteen doing "The Rising" (with a gospel choir, fantastic), and at the end with Pete Seeger and Seeger's grandson doing "This Land is My Land".  Amazing to think all of what Seeger has seen in this country.
Beyoncé singing "America The Beautiful"
John Mellencamp doing "Pink Houses" with the big choir, also very moving when you think about the ambivalence in the song, the way Mellencamp cites some of the Everyman ironies of life here but embraces it all anyway.

Mary J Blige doing "Lean on Me" - yes, Bill Withers, the Obama of music?

Betty LaVette doing "A Change is Gonna Come".... And Jon Bon Jovi ?!?!?!? doing somewhat tortured duet with her. She still kept it wonderful.
Garth Brooks: "Shout" = so-so. "american pie" = better. Never loved his music, but infectiously fun fellow.

U2 – doing Pride, and City of Blinding Lights — wasn't the best musically, Bono's voice didn't quite his his old highs, but was still beautiful.
Bono took a moment to shout that the dream of "In the name of love!" included Israelis and, pointedly, Palestinians. A nice gesture, just to acknowledge what's gone on, and say their name from that stage (the Lincoln Memorail) is meaningful, without being divisive or making it too political.  Somehow I was hoping for some other rock star moment from him to signify the moment but the words and music were enough.

James Taylor  ("Shower the people you love with love") and Stevie Wonder ("Higher Ground") were probably the best musically, both had guest singers. Shakira was a strange choice for Stevie, and she didn't fit in well vocally. But he is so solid it didn't matter.

I was never the bggest James Taylor fan, but it's a beautiful song and worked beautifully with the guest singers (John Legend...).

You can skip the Marisa Tomei intro, but this is a gorgeous moment. Watch it in 'high quality'
Here are some other links I found on YouTube to performances at the concert:


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