Although it is probably not for everybody, the job of President of america of America does have its perks. Take, for instance, the power to display any movie you want on the White Home: right here on Open Tradition, we’ve beforehand featured lists of flicks watched by Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, and Ronald Reagan. However for Carter specifically, music appears to have been much more necessary than cinema. So explains John Chuldenko, stepson of that former president’s son Jack, in the episode of The 1600 Periods above. In it, he tells of his rediscovery of an establishment created beneath Nixon, significantly expanded beneath Carter, and packed away beneath Reagan: the White Home Document Library.
“The Library, begun by First Woman Pat Nixon, was curated by a volunteer fee of famous music journalists, students, and different consultants,” says the White Home Historic Affiliation. When it got here time to replace it on the finish of the nineteen-seventies, writes Washingtonian’s Rob Brunner, “the choice course of can be headed by John Hammond, a massively influential determine who had signed Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin, and Bruce Springsteen.” Hammond additionally enlisted style consultants like “Fashionable Jazz Quartet pianist John Lewis, who was liable for jazz, and Boston music critic Bob Blumenthal, who led the pop picks.”
The ensuing assortment of greater than 2,000 LPs accommodates various albums you wouldn’t anticipate to listen to on the White Home. These embrace Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks, Randy Newman’s Good Previous Boys (which accommodates “one of many best critiques of each Southern and Northern racism,” as Blumenthal remembers), Speaking Heads’ Extra Songs About Buildings and Meals, Captain Beefheart’s Trout Masks Reproduction, and By no means Thoughts the Bollocks, Right here’s the Intercourse Pistols. On the extra danceable finish of the spectrum, the White Home Document Library additionally consists of Funkadelic’s, Earth, Wind, and Fireplace, and Donna Summer season — all of their work chosen expressly for presidential use.
Having final been up to date in 1981 and summarily carted off to “a safe undisclosed storage facility,” the Library stays a musical time capsule of that period. So Chuldenko found when, following a thread of household lore, he managed to trace down a curator who may prepare a listening session for him. “There isn’t a rap or hip-hop in there,” he stated to Washingtonian. “There’s no digital music. There aren’t any boy bands, no Madonna or Britney Spears. No Michael Jackson!” Having succeeded in his mission of discovering the White Home Document Library, he’s set for himself the much more formidable problem of bringing it updated. Actually its geographical purview must widen, given how America now listens to a lot music from past its borders. Would the White Home care to listen to any Okay-pop suggestions?
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Based mostly in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and tradition. His tasks embrace the Substack publication Books on Cities, the guide The Stateless Metropolis: a Stroll by Twenty first-Century Los Angeles and the video collection The Metropolis in Cinema. Comply with him on Twitter at @colinmarshall, on Fb, or on Instagram.