Recommended Reading: Presidential Campaign Songs, Reviewed

Paul Constant, the books editor of Seattle alt-weekly The Stranger, is taking on presidential campaign songs on Line Out, The Stranger’s music blog. It’s good stuff. For example, on James Madison:

Any song with Huzzah in the title should be a balls-to-the-walls party through and through. “Huzzah for Madison” fails at that. It feels perfunctory. It’s the first presidential campaign song that’s a total disappointment.

And on Martin Van Buren:

Crazy! It calls the opposing party a bunch of drunks, and their candidate a scaredy-cat alcoholic who can’t even drink alcohol that is uncontaminated. At the end, they say “Vote for our guy, because he’s a wizard.” You’ve got to admire the pluck and playfulness of these lyrics—that past tense of “swig” is genius—but it’s kind of an off-putting campaign song, in that it insults half the population of the United States.

You get little tidbits of history — the kind of stuff you either forgot or never heard in high school — next to some pretty solid criticism. Constant is planning on reviewing songs in roughly chronological order, and the series appears to be ongoing. Read the series here. My two favorite posts so far: Jefferson and Monroe.