Smile Politely

A Change is Gonna Come

I was watching the Obama Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial a couple days ago on  Though my internet doesn’t seem to allow “moving pictures,” the audio came in fine and I was able to hear a stirring Denzel Washington speech and a solid acoustic version of “The Rising” sung by Bruce Springsteen and a backup gospel choir.

Things got interesting, however, when the band struck up “A Change is Gonna Come.” Soul Singer, Betty LaVette, strutted out and went into the first verse. Things were looking good. And then something happened. Bon Jovi happened.

Now, nine times out of ten I’m down with the Jovi. Be it when I’m rocking out to classic ’80s rock or emoting to some heavy ’80s love ballads, Jovi does the trick. I can’t say the same for when the New Jersey native takes on this legendary Sam Cooke song.

With all the talk of hope and change, it makes sense that Cooke’s song has become an anthem associated with Obama’s presidency. Change, however, has its time and place. I don’t know how I feel about changing the brilliantly written song to sound like something of a hair metal/ country song hybrid. I feel like whatever Bon Jovi touches turns into his own, and I’m not comfortable with him putting his stamp on this classic piece.  This isn’t the best song to be associated with perfectly styled hair.

But maybe in this changing world, I should be more tolerant. There’s a new president, a new design for this website and a new design on Pepsi cans. Maybe now is the time for the object of many a middle-aged daydream to take on such a weighty song.

And in the spirit of change, I’ll allow it. And in this spirit of change, I’ll end this week short with a promise; that there will be a different feel and style to this column. Whereas much of my column last year was negative, I hope to bring to light some of the positives that contemporary music has to offer, both local and elsewhere.  And there will also be drawings.

I think 2009 will be a very good year.

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