100 Days Project

Ben: 100 Writings / 100 Opening Guitar Hooks

various, random creative expressions / writings, inspired partially by 100 popular songs (songs that somewhat begin with a leading hook of a guitar.)

Day 35:

“Peaches” (1996) by The Presidents of the United States of America

“Peaches” (1996) by The Presidents of the United States of America

With a band name like that, how can I not think about a music act full of Presidents?

But not all of them were musically versed. President Obama can sing as well as anyone else – not professionally, though. And he’s got some great tracks on his iPod. But, as interviewed by Barbara Walters – he wished he could’ve learnt a musical instrument … and learnt Spanish. Same goes for President Carter, who absolutely adored music, but didn’t learn. President Kennedy and President Taft were in families who prodigiously played musical instruments, except for them. President Ford couldn’t play either, but pushed more music education reforms than any other President.

Then there are Presidents who simply had no interest in it. The first Bush President didn’t have a piano in the White House – go figure. President Grant, who was tone deaf, didn’t care for it, but at least he was honest about the fact: “I only know two tunes. One of them is Yankee Doodle and the other isn’t.”

Now with those exclusions, come and imagine this folk rock band, pseudo Mumford, jamming out in a barnyard, somewhere where they’ve moved to the country, to eat a lot of Peaches:

George Washington – All historians agree that George Washington had no musical capabilities whatsoever. However some idiot mythologists rumour that he played the harpsichord or the flute, just to make him seem cooler. The guy’s cool, regardless. It’s unwarranted. Besides – can you really imagine a six-foot, five-star Revolutionary General playing a god damn flute?! I shouldn’t include him in my band, but, hey, George can be the roadie … coz roadies are cool!

Thomas Jefferson – Clavichord, Violin and Cello – He’s the pretty face of the band: hazel eyes; thin lips. History has already shown how the girls love him! And like George Harrison, he’ll get those Renaissance girls – the types that know their wines, speak French and read Austen.

(Benjamin Franklin – He wasn’t a President. But other than being a Founding Father, Benny was a learned inventor and engineer. So much so, that if we gave him a sound desk, he’d work it out … and record the band. All bands need a great engineer.)

John Quincy Adams – Flute, Violin and Harp – With all the pressures built upon him by a father that also was President and with the horrible depression he suffered all his life, Quincy would be the tormented member of the band a la a Syd Barrett and Brian Wilson. He’d be a genius songwriter that you could tell was addicted to music, but with that, suffer intolerable introspection and awkwardness in social circumstance. But much like the members of Pink Floyd and the Beach Boys, the rest of the band would help their comrade through the best they could.

John Tyler – Violin and Fiddle – John didn’t fit in well with the other personalities in government, so I assume he wouldn’t last long in this band either. Let’s just say, he had a small stint with the band, soon after left the industry, converted to Islam and built a Mosque a few miles outta D.C.

Abraham Lincoln – Like Washington, mythology claims that Abe played the violin and the harmonica, with no hard historical evidence to back that up. But one certified fact that we do know is that he is the only President to have won a state wrestling championship. With the image I have of him choke-slamming a drunk though a table, at some gig, I guess we just found Security for our band, “IF YA SMEEELLLLLLLLLL …. WHAT …. ABE …. IS …. COOKIN’!”

Chester Alan Arthur – Banjo – Here’s our Eddie Van Halen. This guy was an absolute maestro on the five-string. He loved clothes so much so that they nicknamed him “Elegant Arthur.” He tore down half of the White House as being too shabby (destroying many historical artefacts in the process) and renovated it with the most modern luxuries of the day. He loved his sideburns and his Mo. This dude, ladies and gentlemen, was made to be a rock star!

Theodore Roosevelt – Piano – I can see Teddy playing with a shotgun rifle on the top of the piano. He’d definitely be Ted Nugent.

Woodrow Wilson – Violin – I can see him as the quiet guy in the band, standing in the background, never taking the limelight, with sunglasses on, i.e. John Deacon, Izzy Stradlin, John Paul Jones, John Entwistle. Woodrow was a very reserved man and would fit this personality perfectly. In fact, like the rest of the names in this paragraph, he’d probably want me to stop talking about him right n-

Warren Harding – “I played every instrument but the slide trombone and the E-flat cornet” – With a quote like that, this guy instantly becomes the music director of the band. He showed off his skills by joining the band onstage that celebrated his 1920 nomination. He was passionate about organising the Citizen’s Cornet Band which he made available for both Republican and Democrat rallies. This boy loved music. He was also a social animal. He would be the great adjudicator in this band; being pliable to the needs of the others – as expected of a band leader. And he was really a good humble guy. The only problem is he’s been voted the worst President of all time, with the most scandals of an Administration of all time – too busy partying; too busy playing; too busy fucking. Rock and Roll.

Calvin Coolidge – Harmonica – Maybe even quieter than Woodrow, they in fact nicknamed him “Silent Cal.” Calvin wouldn’t want to stand away from the limelight, he’d in fact want to stand away from the entire theatre. Let’s make Calvin just a session musician – no photos, no interviews, not an official band member. He just records tracks in the studio and then leaves.

Franklin D. Roosevelt – Again, someone said he had a dab hand at playing the Organ. But, again, no verification provided forthwith. Even if it were true, the poor guy’s in a wheelchair, so it’d be slim luck of him ever crowdsurfing. But since it’s the great FDR, let’s just give him a tambourine and let him join the band.

Harry Truman – Piano – He could be brought in just as a back-up pianist, because Harry’s best role in this band would definitely be as Manager. Only LBJ comes closer in the legendary accounts of a President absolutely spitting his dummy at some poor recipient. Hence, like the explosive tempers and salty languages of Sharon Osbourne and the Colonel, give this gentleman the reins of the band and he’ll most definitely get shit done.

Richard Nixon – Piano, Accordion and Violin – We all know how far up his own arse his head was, so it makes sense he’d quit this band and start a new one, which was shockingly crap … (cough, Dave Mustaine, cough.) Though he had the talents, being classically trained at all, his psyche was horribly perturbed with narcissism and suspicion. If he didn’t quit, the rest of the band would’ve fired him anyway … for being unprofessionally weird …. (cough, Nick Oliveri, cough.)

Ronald Reagan – Harmonica – Here’s the Face of the group: smile of gold; sense of humour; rapport of charm. Just look on Youtube at the way he enveloped his audience, managing to make masses of people feel right at home, disarming bad vibes from a distance and being contagiously affable. That’s what the face of a band is supposed to do; that’s why they nicknamed him “the Great Communicator.” Though his Pocket-Piano playing was pretty poor, we’ll pop him in, purely predicated upon the power of his personality … and have Calvin instead record Harmonica in the studio.

Bill Clinton – Saxophone – If Jefferson gets the artsy types, Clinton gets the hippie girls. How cool was this mofo … honestly! And what a bold faced lie it was, when he said he didn’t inhale. Just look at photos of him from his younger days – he looks like the chap who was selling it on campus. Then add sunglasses and a sharp suit, he’d be more than comfortable performing, whilst on it. Bill is the epitome of rock and roll.

George W. Bush – Guitar, Percussion – And finally the life of the festivities; the joker on the bongos; the party animal on the tour bus; Keith Moon incarnate. With what we’ve been told about his rascally days at Yale, I can see George egging Chester on, to smash his Banjo over Lincoln’s head, for the hell of it. Or goading FDR and Harding into a Tequila match. Or shooting TV sets with Teddy. He might sooner be kicked outta the band for being Mr. Mischievous, but I think the boys would’ve forgiven him and let him back in. For George is a sweetheart, he wears his heart on his sleeve, only means well and would be intensely loyal to the band – even if he didn’t think his actions were in the wrong.

Coming soon to a Capital near you.