Songs for Presidents | Hideout | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader

Songs for Presidents Recommended Soundboard

When: Fri., July 3, 9 p.m. 2009

This project had its genesis in 2006, during February Album Writing Month (FAWM.org), a yearly online songwriting challenge that asks participants to write 14 songs in 28 days. Christian Kiefer, J. Matthew Gerken, and Jefferson Pitcher chose 14 former U.S. presidents apiece and wrote a song about each one; after the month was done, they called in friends like Califone, Bill Calahan, Mark Kozelek, and Alan Sparhawk to polish and expand their demos into last year’s Of Great and Mortal Men (Standard Recording), a book and three-CD set covering all 43 presidents, George W. Bush included. (After the 2008 election, they added a tune about Obama on the project’s Web site.) The music varies from melancholy gospel to jubilant country-rock; the lyrics are sometimes merely unmemorably verbose, but there are real gems too, like Pitcher’s sublimely spacey contemplation of William Howard Taft’s medical troubles. Local guests including Jon Langford, Anna Fermin, and Tim Kinsella will round out the band for two local performances, one at the Hideout and the other at Taste of Chicago. —Bill Meyer

Price: $12

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