Four decades ago, when your parents placed a needle on the vinyl grooves that sounded out the chords of Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together” at a basement blue light party, it was unlikely that anyone dancing to the song in an applejack hat or platform boots would have imagined that this same tune would be sung by a black president.
Here we are in 2012 and Barack Obama gave a two-second cover that sounded so smoothly close to Green’s version that not only did it make us nostalgic, it was good enough to be a campaign theme. But why stop there? Obama’s not just our first black president; he’s also clearly our first soul president. So he should have soul themes with which to campaign. And since we seem to live our lives by downloads and playlists, here are five songs Obama could use to garner attention from the body politic.
“Let’s Stay Together” by Al Green
In 2008, Obama won as he touted the familiar “Yes We Can” slogan all over the nation and everyone’s email. Now, he needs a new catchphrase to bring cynical voters back. Green’s “Let’s Stay Together” (even though it’s essentially a marriage proposal) is the perfect tune to remind people that despite a horrendous recession, a foreclosure crisis and high unemployment (14 percent among African Americans), what a family does is stay the course, and its members pledge they’ll be “lovin’ you whether, whether/times are good or bad, happy or sad.”
“Second Time Around” by Shalamar
Of course Obama’s looking for a second chance to place America on the right course. There’s no shortage of “one more chance” songs out there, but in 1979, Shalamar promised the “Second Time Around” would be better than the first. And if Howard Hewett’s crooning is right, then maybe getting rid of Osama bin Laden, ending the Iraq War and unemployment dropping to 8.3 percent is a clue that another chance will be worth it because “the second time is so much better, baby/and I’ll make it better than the first time” (as long as the POTUS doesn’t wear a sequined disco outfit).