Obama brings optimism to music biz

Jeff Yerger

As the winter rolls on, our country is still dealing with its own crises, whether under the ceilings of Wall Street or on the frontlines of the war in Iraq.

Barack Obama is now America’s symbol of hope.

After the historic events of last week, there is much to be optimistic and proud about in America.

Throughout the past eight years, music has remained a constant in the lives of many people. And Obama’s recent inauguration has inspired musicians.

The music industry in general did not exactly agree with the Bush administration.

Many events, mistakes and misinformed decisions struck the worst chords in the minds of musicians.

The activist within many artists was revealed, and many musicians lashed out against the former president in the only way they could – with near-anarchic anthems.

The start of the new millennium brought on a whole slew of protest songs – the most we’ve seen since the 1960s.

Our country’s musical tastes went from the happy-go-lucky vibe of boy bands and bubblegum pop to the more mature, more political messages of Green Day, who dismissed its punk-pop roots with the release of “American Idiot” – an obvious nod against the government.

Even artists like Incubus, the Dixie Chicks and Kanye West had their say. If you went to any Pearl Jam, U2 or Bruce Springsteen concert, you would certainly have been bombarded with anti-war or anti-Bush propaganda.

Yes, musicians had minds of their own, and throughout these past eight years, they let you know it.

Now, a new era has come upon us. Last week, many musicians including the likes of James Taylor, Beyonce, U2, Mary J. Blige, Stevie Wonder and others, performed at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., to celebrate the inauguration of our new president.

“Let freedom ring,” Bono of U2 proclaimed. “On this spot where we’re standing 46 years ago, Dr. King had a dream. On Tuesday, that dream comes to pass.”

Of course, the always-outspoken Bono did not stop there, declaring that the election of our new president is “not just an American dream but also an Irish dream, a European dream, an African dream, an Israeli dream and also a Palestinian dream.”

To musicians everywhere, Obama represents something that has been missing for a while in our country: culture.

“B-Rock,” as Vibe has called him, is a hip, young president who listens to Stevie Wonder, Elton John, Earth Wind and Fire, the Rolling Stones and jazz (which is now going to be a staple in the White House).

Obama still has the time to discuss politics with the likes of Ludacris, Jay-Z, Will.i.am. and Usher.

He is a new breed of president that makes our country seem … well … cool.

Obama is a guy that many musicians can relate to and agree with, which is probably why he has so many supporters in the music biz already.

With optimism flowing out of every nook and cranny in America, musicians have something to be happy about again, as was evident on the night of the inauguration.

Musicians came together to celebrate our new president in joyous concerts.

This chance to start fresh and bring change to America has given artists everywhere something to sing and dance about.

There is no more room for songs like “Let’s Impeach the President” by Neil Young or “Holiday” by Green Day – for the time being anyway.

There are great expectations and great hope for Obama – why not celebrate it while we can?

Sure, the economy is lagging and there is still a war we have to settle, but the time is right for popular music to embrace this dawn out of the darkness.

Music has always had the power to influence people in many ways, and now it has the potential to lift the spirits of every American, just as Obama has.

Music and politics should go hand-in-hand, instead of this battle we have seen for nearly a decade.

New music in 2009 may be more cheerful and buoyant than in the past.

As Sting sang in the Inauguration celebration party with Stevie Wonder by his side, “The river’s wide, we’ll swim across / Started up a brand new day.”