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You Are What You Listen To?

Democratic presidential candidates name the albums they most like to have in their CD players:

Wesley Clark: “Journey-Greatest Hits”

Howard Dean: Music by Wyclef Jean

Sen. John Edwards: “The Essential Bruce Springsteen”

Sen. John Kerry: “Abbey Road” by the Beatles

Rep. Dennis Kucinich: Music by Willie Nelson

Sen. Joe Lieberman: “Sueno” by Andrea Bocelli

Al Sharpton: Music by Yolanda Adams [AP].

Most of the answers here seem reasonable and within character, although I am curious as to how big a Willie Nelson fan Kucinich was before he got Willie’s endorsement. Gospel for Sharpton, romantic operatic for Lieberman, the Beatles for Kerry, Bruce for Edwards.

By the way we listened to discs one and two of the three-CD Essential last night and I have come to the conclusion that I like Bruce better than Bob Dylan and even slightly more than Neil Young among American rock-and-roots singer-songwriters. I am eager to hear disc three, which is rarities.

Disc two wavers after the Born in the USA material (thankfully, the collection is in chronological order), although there are strengths throughout and The Rising songs definitely feel like a rebirth of sorts, although, inevitably, the heat is more diffuse now.

But disc one, which covers his career through Nebraska (and distressingly leaves off the sublime “Kitty’s Back” “I Wanna Marry You,” and “Cadillac Ranch”) is so good and powerful that it made my head hurt and woke me up more than once last night with weird dreams and lyrics coursing through my turbulent brain. Most of the time I was listening I was walking around with Alex (now a robust 6-weeks old) – you know, doing the don’t-cry-and-hopefully-fall-asleep baby bounce – and more than once I felt my eyes start to fill for the hopes and fears and years gone by, for the depth of feeling Springsteen was able to comprehend and express, for the wordy exuberance of the young poet-rocker, and for his courage. Near-breakdown moments included “Spirits In the Night,” “Rosalita,” “Thunder Road,” “The Promised Land” and “The River.”

So Edwards gets points for taste and for currency, being that Essential only came out in November. But what of Clark and Dean? of all the albums in the world – to paraphrase Bogart – and Clark picks fucking Journey? Journey? I mean there are some good songs on there, and Journey rocked when they chose to and Steve Perry had a noteworthy voice (until you got sick of it), but they had NOTHING to say – talk about all medium and no message, talk about shallow musical masturbation, talk about LCD. And I am not really trying to put Journey down – they did what they did perfectly well and good for them – but for this to be someone’s favorite, most listened-to album, now in 2003, shows someone who gave up on the culture a long time ago, and who was never really in touch with it in the first place. What a dip.

And I don’t who the hell Dean is trying to impress with Wyclef Jean, who is fine, but what in God’s name would inspire Dean to pick him ahead of all recorded music? Is he trying to be cool? I’d sure be curious to hear what else Dean listens to so I could place this curious selection in context.

About Eric Olsen

Career media professional and serial entrepreneur Eric Olsen flung himself into the paranormal world in 2012, creating the America's Most Haunted brand and co-authoring the award-winning America's Most Haunted book, published by Berkley/Penguin in Sept, 2014. Olsen is co-host of the nationally syndicated broadcast and Internet radio talk show After Hours AM; his entertaining and informative America's Most Haunted website and social media outlets are must-reads: [email protected], Facebook.com/amhaunted, Pinterest America's Most Haunted. Olsen is also guitarist/singer for popular and wildly eclectic Cleveland cover band The Props.

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