Friday, January 23, 2009

FRIDAY MORNING JUKEBOX : The Triple-Shot Of Hope Edition!

As the euphoria recedes just a little and we as a country and a collection of cultures set out on what we hope will be a more positive direction for ourselves and the land around us, we wanted to serve up just a few final bits of the afterglow to help you get through the weekend.

The scene above is from Madison Square Garden this past New Year's Eve, where My Morning Jacket rang in '09 with a cover of, of all things, "Celebration" by Kool And The Gang. Not that I doubt Jim James' affinity for '70s funk, but to see the crowd embrace the moment so joyfully hints, perhaps, at where so many of us were coming from mentally, and how much more of a release the clock striking midnight, and the official end of the past 365 days, was for us.

Our second clip was one of the few bright spots in Tuesday's Neighborhood Inaugural Ball that didn't directly involve the new President and First Lady. While Beyonce's joyous cover of "At Last" has gotten the bulk of the attention coming out of the event, I thought Alicia Keys surging rendition of "No One" might have been the best overall performance that night. While "At Last" framed a perfect moment for the Obamas, Keys managed to give the crowd a moment of its' own to take home.

Watching Keys' performance that night, I found myself wishing the crowd well. Wishing they felt like I did the last time words like hope and change were bandied about with so many smiles: Inauguration Night 1993, when my generation came together behind a seemingly so-young President from Arkansas and his hyper-intelligent progressive First Lady. As the Cross Colours 1990s were beginning to hit their stride, and we hoped we'd seen the last of the trickle-down disaster and Rambo culture of the previous decade, it was Natalie Merchant and Michael Stipe who seemed to usher this brave new world in for us with "To Sir With Love":

As Merchant later sang, those were days: When peace wasn't confused with cowardice; when diversity was desirable, not divisive; when cynicism seemingly wasn't necessary to get through the damn day. Hope might spring eternal, but it seemed to take eight years to become viable this time around. Here's to ... well, hoping it sticks around a bit longer.

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