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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Pick yourself up: Obama sets the theme from the Great American Song Book

In an inauguration that paid special homage to Abraham Lincoln and his legacy in defining America, Barack Obama also reached into the Great American Song Book for a number from the Great Depression. He outlined the strenuous work, the diligence, and the courage it has taken from the many who built America over the last three centuries, saying it was not a task for the faint-hearted. In facing our current massive problems, he said, “Starting to day, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and begin again the work of remaking America.”

He was quoting from a song by Jerome Kern and Dorothy Fields that was written for 1936 Depression-era film “Swing Time.” The song is a dance number performed by Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers., a song of lilting lyrics and chord changes, a favorite of jazz musicians. It has been recorded by Anita O’Day, Nat King Cole, his daughter Natalie, Diana Krall, to name a few. I especially recall the George Shearing Quintet version that bolstered the spirits and resolve of us students when I was a college undergraduate.

You can go to this YouTube Link and pick from a number of videos to hear and see the song performed, including the original film version.

So, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, start all over again. And swing your booty to this tune.

Nothing's impossible, I have found.
For when my chin is on the ground,
I pick myself up, dust myself off,
Start all over again.

Don't lose your confidence if you slip.
Be grateful for a pleasant trip,
And pick yourself up; dust yourself off;
Start all over again.

Work like a soul inspired
'Til the battle of the day is won.
You may be sick and tired,
But you'll be a man, my son.

Will you remember the famous men
Who had to fall to rise again.
So take a deep breath;
Pick yourself up;
Dust yourself off;
Start all over again.

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Aberdeen, South Dakota, United States