Songwriters Pen Odes to Presidents Past and Present

Forty-three songs for 43 presidencies, and a 44th on the way-as soon as the lil' matter of November's election is wrapped. That was the task tackled by a cross-country trio of singer/songwriters Sacramento-based Christian Kiefer, J. Matthew Gerken from Chicago and Jefferson Pitcher from outside Albany, NY-joined by friends like Califone, Bill Callahan (nee Smog), Radar Bros., and Mark Kozelek. Their bounty (after two years of work): A three-disc album titled Of Great and Mortal Men: 43 Songs for 43 U.S. Presidencies.These songs aim more for satire and scathing parody, rather than reverence and titillation of, say, "Happy Birthday, Mr. President." George Washington gets some guff for his dentures made of hippopotamus teeth. Andrew Jackson is steadfastly unapologetic for his policies against Native American tribes that culminated in the Trail of Tears amidst a moaning folk veneer. George Bush, Sr. is skewered as an oil industry patsy.Check out their ode to James Monroe, which The Washington Post calls "the best song ever about the nation's fifth president." NPR's "All Things Considered" featured the project today.