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by Kyle Sanders
And so it begins. Inauguration Day, an eagerly anticipated day filled with hope and promise, has been reduced to apocalyptic despair thanks to a turbulent election year that left many Americans feeling polarized and defeated. Today, Donald Trump will become the forty-fifth president of the United States, and there's nothing we can do about it.
Or is there?
Barely stepping foot in the Oval Office, Trump's choices for his administration have already baffled citizens and politicians alike, such as the recent confirmation hearing of Secretary of Education nominee Betsy DeVos. It doesn't look too promising elsewhere, but with a little luck and a whole lot of lip biting and finger crossing, our country will remain intact through November 2020, just enough time to change things around (unless of course we are treated to a triumphant impeachment trial in the oh-so-near future!). In the meantime, here's a top ten list of songs to help us get through the next four years:
Front woman Florence Welch describes this track as a "hangover cure," which makes it a perfect song to relieve the hangover of last year. Welch's vocals over a swelling, gothic organ and pounding drums certainly inspire one to shake the devil off their back, so let us all bury "that horse" (aka 2016) in the ground. As the song goes, "it's always darkest before the dawn..."
Lead vocalist Craig Finn's vocals on the title track of the band's fourth studio album scream out lyrics about holding on to the ideals of your youth even as you get older, and at a moment in our history where we face an unpredictable future, the song's theme is a sobering reminder to "stay positive." "There's gonna come a time where our true scene leaders, forget where they differ, and get the big picture" he proclaims, and it's certainly a valid point to hope for.
From their debut album, "Wake Up" starts with a quiet, somber electric guitar riff and builds to an operatic climax, with Win Butler's wounded vocals reflecting on growing up, learning about heartache and experience: "We're just a million little god's causin' rain storms turnin' every good thing to rust/I guess we'll just have to adjust..." Fun bit of trivia, this song was used during the cold opening sketch on Saturday Night Live prior to Election Day, playing over clips of Kate McKinnon and Alec Baldwin dressed as Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump hugging strangers in the middle of Times Square.
"Well we know where we're going, but we don't know where we've been" begins this Talking Heads track that lead singer David Byrne described as "a joyful look at doom." As we venture into 2017 with an unqualified president, it's hard to find anything joyful to look forward to, but as Byrne suggests, "give us time to work it out."
Accept no edited substitutes of Mayfield's nine minute opus! This groovy soul song features an extended instrumental break that'll find you dancing out your fear, rage, and worry during the Trump administration, as Mayfield's smooth vocals suggest "Just move on up, to a greater day/With just a little faith, if you put your mind to it you can surely do it."
Ah, the Clinton administration. It's no wonder the nostalgic nineties are in style these days as we seem to remember a greater decade of a booming economy and lesser fears. And it all started with this this Christine McVie-penned tune that jump started his first campaign for president. A track she wrote after her separation with bassist John McVie, Christine recruits guitarist Lindsey Buckingham to share lyrics about looking on the bright side with the positive reflection that "yesterday's gone." Thanks to Clinton, he managed to get the then-disbanded group back together to perform it during his inauguration, which eventually led to the successful The Dance tour and subsequent reunions.
This song from Dylan's Slow Train Coming album seems to resonate well with our current situation. As we all know, Donald Trump is a "bit" of a blo-hard, bragging about the things he's accomplished and created. But as Dylan sings "You may be a businessman or some high degree thief/They may call you doctor, they may call you chief/But you're gonna have to serve somebody." We shall see just how great he makes America. Yes, indeed.
I feel like this song is an all inclusive anthem for just about anyone. With the fears of losing many of the freedoms that we have fought so hard for, this song off of Petty's first solo album, Full Moon Fever, comes to mind. Petty's southern attitude spouting off lines like "You can stand me up at the gates of Hell, but I won't back down," seems to send every sense of oppression, every emotional frustration or difficulty rise up and boil right out of the pores.
As I stated earlier, Trump's campaign polarized a lot of Americans. Since his electoral win, a great deal of social tensions have bubbled up throughout the country, causing many to sight similarities with Adolf Hitler's rise to power. But if there's one thing that we as a nation must hold on to, it's the power of empathy. To understand one another is the greatest skill we can learn, and it's certainly reiterated in this classic song about peace and equality: "I am no better and neither are you, We are the same whatever we do/You love me you hate me you know me and then/You can't figure out the bag I'm in..." The meaning behind this song is timeless, and definitely relevant to the state of our society.
I'll never get old of this song. From the opening drum beat to the inspiring lyrics, Smith's song from her Dream of Life album is one of her best and brightest compositions. I was lucky enough to see Eddie Vedder perform an acoustic version of this song with the Chicago Children's Choir right before President Obama delivered his farewell address, and it was certainly the perfect song to encapsulate the hope and change that his two terms provided to so many Americans. The song suggests that when people come together as one, they can achieve anything. The have "the power to dream, to rule, to wrestle the earth from fools." After today, our country might evolve into something we never could have imagined, but we have the power to change it all, and we can certainly wrestle it away from a certain "fool" that's now in charge.
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