Bernie Sanders is having a pretty great summer. The crotchety senator from Vermont is not only riding a wave of popularity unmatched by anything in his career thusfar, but according to recent polls, his presidential campaign is, amazingly, improbably, starting to close within striking distance of Democratic dauphin, Hilary Clinton, herself. While some might attribute Sanders’ newfound political relevance to his thoughtful, nuanced, policy positions, or his grassroots efforts to appeal to a wide, untapped liberal base. I have another theory.
America loves a folk musician.
Oh, you didn’t know? Bernie Sanders once released a full album of American folk standards. Yup. The (admittedly, unlikely) next president of the United States is a bona fide folker.
Sanders’ album, “We Shall Overcome” was release in 1987, while Bernie was still mayor of Burlington, VT. According to Seven Days, a Vermont-based independent news site:
Todd Lockwood, a Burlington-based author/photographer/musician, remembers sipping coffee at Leunig’s Bistro one morning in 1987 when he came up with the idea of recording then-mayor Sanders at his White Crow Audio studios. (Phish recorded early albums there.)
“I’m not sure where it came from,” Lockwood said of his brainstorm. “I thought, ‘You know, there’s an idea.’”
On a whim, he called the mayor’s office — he didn’t know Sanders — and left a message with a secretary. Before long, he got a call back — Sanders wanted a meeting.
“I was surprised he said, ‘Yes,’” Lockwood said. “When I first went to his office he said, ‘I have to admit to you this appeals to my ego.’’’
Sanders gave Lockwood a list of songs, mostly from Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger, he would be willing to record.
How does it sound? Judge for yourself:
Originally, Sanders had planned to sing each song himself, but that went right out the window after he actually, well, started to sing. Mel Torme, he ain’t. Instead, his singing voice allegedly ended up sounding exactly as you’d probably expect coming from a crotchety Jewish member of the Vermont Progressive Party – Not, uh…not so great.
Still, if you’re interested/brave enough, the full album is available for purchase on amazon.
[h/t Dangerous Minds]