Top 20 Presidential Songs
In honor of Election Day tomorrow, here is a list of the top 20 songs written about United States presidents. Scroll to the bottom for a link to listen, and don’t forget: Go Vote!
1. Super Furry Animals – Presidential Suite
You may argue this is a little crude, but, um, it’s right, right?
Monica and naughty Billy
Got together something silly now
Holy wars out of lusty minutes
Another Cuban cigar crisis
Do we need to know if he really came inside her mouth?
How will all this affect me
Now and later
2. Sufjan Stevens – Jacksonville
It’s about slavery in Illinois. Who knew there was a Jacksonville, Illinois?
Education, ask the nation
You gave us our sight and the hearing is fine
Andrew Jackson all I’m asking
Give us the wheel and give us the wine
3. They Might Be Giants – James K. Polk
Suitable for use in any high school US History class.
In 1844, the Democrats were split
The three nominees for the presidential candidate
Were Martin Van Buren, a former president and an abolitionist
James Buchanan, a moderate
Louis Cass, a general and expansionist
From Nashville came a dark horse riding up
He was James K. Polk, Napoleon of the Stump
4. Stars – He Lied About Death
It is totally f-ed up to think of September 11th as getting lucky, but in the context of talking to George W., I’ll let it slide.
What gives you the right?
To fuck with our lives?
A devil born in paradise
A liar loves to lie
Keep watching your back
Killers always have killers on their track
Keep watching the sky
‘Cause you might get lucky again
I hope your drunken daughters are gay!
5. “Puttin’ People On The Moon” Drive-By Truckers
One of my favorite Truckers songs. Such a bleak look at the disparity between the politicians and the poor.
Every week down at the Ford Plant but now they say they’re shutting down
God damned Reagan in the White House and no one there gives a damn
Double Digit unemployment, TVA be shutting soon
While over there in Huntsville, They puttin’ people on the moon
6. Lou Reed – The Day John Kennedy Died
You never forget the details of your life at certain exact moments in history, this being a major one for an entire generation.
I dreamed that I could do the job, that others hadn’t done
I dreamed that I was uncorrupt and fair to everyone
I dreamed I wasn’t gross or base, a criminal on the take
And most of all I dreamed I forgot the day John Kennedy died
7. Randy Newman – Louisiana 1927
Reminiscent of Katrina, and now, Sandy.
President Coolidge came down in a railroad train
With a little fat man with a note pad in his hand
The President say, ‘Little fat man isn’t it a shame what the river has done
To this poor crackers land.’
8. Pink – Dear Mr. President
Another one for George W. It features the Indigo Girls on harmonies. Really beautiful anger.
What kind of father would take his own daughter’s rights away?
And what kind of father might hate his own daughter if she were gay?
I can only imagine what the first lady has to say
You’ve come a long way from whiskey and cocaine
9. Elvis Costello – Eisenhower Blues
Only things for sure are Death and Taxes.
Taking all my money to pay the tax
I’m telling you people the natural facts
I’m telling you people, in my belief
I am headed straight on relief
Oh I got the Eisenhower Blues
Thinking about me and you and what on earth are we gonna do?
10. John Prine – Grandpa Was A Carpenter
Republicans gonna be a Republican.
Grandpa was a carpenter
He built houses stores and banks
Chain smoked Camel cigarettes
And hammered nails in planks
He was level on the level
And shaved even every door
And voted for Eisenhower
‘Cause Lincoln won the war.
11. Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young – Ohio
Tin soldiers and Nixon coming,
We’re finally on our own.
This summer I hear the drumming,
Four dead in Ohio
12. The Postal Service – Sleeping In
Another one from the list of tons of songs out there about the death of JFK. Not so many about his actual presidency, though.
Last week I had the strangest dream
where everything was exactly how it seemed
where there was never any mystery
of who shot John F Kennedy
It was just a man with something to prove,
slightly bored and severely confused
He steadied his rifle with his target in the center
and became famous on that day in November
13. Prince – Ronnie, Talk to Russia
Um, how did I not know this song existed before making this mix? It is amazing(ly awful).
Ronnie talk to Russia before its too late
Before its too late
Before its too late
Ronnie talk to Russia before its too late
Before they blow up the world
You go to the zoo, but you can’t feed guerrillas
Can’t feed guerrillas
You can go to the zoo, but you can’t feed guerrillas
Who want to blow up the world
14. Bright Eyes – When the President Talks to God
All good questions, Conor Oberst. My dad thinks this song is “maybe a little over the top.” I reminded him he lived through the 60s with their extreme folk music, and he noted that if you remember the 60s, you didn’t really live through them. Touche.
When the President talks to God,
Are the conversations brief or long?
Does he ask to to rape our women’s rights?
And send poor farm kids off to die?
Does God suggest an oil hike?
When the President talks to God?
15. Okkervil River – The President’s Dead
A riff on the murder of JFK and our need to turn everything into a media frenzy.
In the media tent where they spin and they slant,
They just foam the mouth and they champ at the bit,
Those bloodsuckers can wait until those vulture’s cool in,
The newscaster said, “The President’s dead.”
16. Stevie Wonder – You Haven’t Done Nothin’
Singing to Nixon (with the help of The Jackson 5, no less) but really could be singing to any politician.
We are amazed but not amused
By all the things you say that you’ll do
Though much concerned but not involved
With decisions that are made by you
But we are sick and tired of hearing your song
Telling how you are gonna change right from wrong
‘Cause if you really want to hear our views
“You haven’t done nothing”!
17. Nas, “Black President”
Samples Tupac’s lyric “And though it seems heaven sent, we ain’t ready to have a black President,” but still questions his leadership potential.
But on a positive side,
I think Obama provides Hope, and challenges minds
Of all races and colors to erase the hate
And try and love one another, so many political snakes
We in need of a break
I’m thinkin’ I can trust this brother
But will he keep it way real?
18. Neil Young – Let’s Impeach The President
Uses George W.’s own sound clips to indict him. Flip! Flop!
Let’s impeach the President for spyin’
On citizens inside their own homes
Breaking every law in the country
Tapping our computers and telephones
What if Al Qaeda blew up the levees
Would New Orleans have been safer that way
Sheltered by our government’s protection
Or was someone just not home that day?
19. Jay Z – My President is Black (remix)
One of the few positive songs about a president. Ever.
My President is black, in fact he’s half white
So even in a racist mind he’s half right
If you have a racist mind you’ll be aight
My President is black but his house is all white
Rosa Parks sat so Martin Luther could walk
Martin Luther walked so Barack Obama could run
Barack Obama ran so all the children could fly
Ima spread my wings you can meet me in the sky
20. The Legendary K.O., “George Bush Don’t Like Black People”
This remix of Kanye West’s Gold Digger came out in the days following Katrina. The title samples West’s line during the telethon. I couldn’t find just the audio, but it was worth a listen, so here is the video.
Hurricane came through, f-ked us up round here
Government acting like it’s bad luck down here
All I know is that you better bring some trucks round here
Wonder why I got my middle finger up round here
Listen to this mix on Rdio or stream it here: