watch this January 21, 2009

Video: These United States and friends sing for Presidents

these united states at sixth and i synagogue

Download “Rough and Ready” by These United States | Though I didn’t catch the entirety of the Songs for Presidents show, it seemed on the whole that none of these 44 songs were particularly amazing–nothing like Sufjan Steven’s “Jacksonville” that alludes to the 7th American President, Andrew Jackson. But awakening this series of neutral-sounding songs–built on the repetitive task of celebrating an American President–to a more colorful life seemed easy to some of the artists who played that night: Jukebox the Ghost, Tim Fite, Middle Distance Runner and Laura Burhenn were some of those, amongst the ones I saw, but my absolute favorite was These United States’ version of “Rough and Ready”, which was written for the 12th American President Zachary Taylor, and which you can watch after the jump. Along with Tim Fite and Jukebox the Ghost, both of whom I unfortunately didn’t film, it was a rare instance where the performers seemed capable of wholly investing themselves in an okay song and making it sound just as good as their own (gorgeous). Go on, watch the video(s).

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The acoustics at Sixth and I Historic Synagogue was a bit weird for this kind of show–everything somehow thinned out, making it sound like we might’ve been in a school gymnasium.

These United States, “Rough and Ready”
I loved it as soon as they started playing it. From the very first stomps, and then the very first word, Mexico

Middle Distance Runner, “Such a Marvelous Dream”
I was surprised by the choice to make this song a quiet one, and it turned out really pleasant and sad! It kind of reminded me of “John Wayne Gacy, Jr.” by Sufjan Stevens–I’m not sure where all these Sufjan comparisons are coming from, but in this case it may have been the immensely loving treatment of figures you normally wouldn’t think of as entirely lovable or vulnerable. There’s one part where the way the word “marvelous” is sung just sounds heart-breaking.

Laura Burhenn, “When Ike Walked the Land”
This version isn’t much different from the original, but Laura’s voice sounds great. And those old animations look adorable.

All photos (These United States) by Kashish

these united states at sixth and i synagogue

these united states at sixth and i synagogue

these united states at sixth and i synagogue

these united states at sixth and i synagogue

these united states at sixth and i synagogue

these united states at sixth and i synagogue

these united states at sixth and i synagogue

these united states at sixth and i synagogue

these united states at sixth and i synagogue

these united states at sixth and i synagogue

these united states at sixth and i synagogue

these united states at sixth and i synagogue

these united states at sixth and i synagogue

these united states at sixth and i synagogue

these united states at sixth and i synagogue

these united states at sixth and i synagogue

I’ll post the opening set from These United States at a later date.

Sixth and I Historic Synagogue
Washington DC
Jan 17, 2009

  • Christian Kiefer:

    Hey Sarahana:

    Sorry you don’t much like our songs but I’m VERY glad you came and that you filmed some of the great things that happened. Those you posted: Laura’s, TUS, MDR–were indeed amongst the standouts. & you’re right about Sufjan’s “Jacksonville,” which kills.

    Best,

    Christian

  • sarahana:

    Don’t be ridiculous, Christian–why should you ever be sorry for people’s limited and weirdly pre-programmed capacity to like or relate to all music? Besides, “Rough and Ready” has been stuck in my head ever since and I had a lot of fun at the show, so THANK YOU for putting it together.


  • Aqua: Love TEEN. Man they can sing. Cool. Different.
  • Suraj Joshee: Sarahana, Loved the video. You captured the simple raw essence of the music and band really really...
  • Kevination: I love infectious songs.
  • Jipes: Another great post, I love the voice of this artist. Every time I come here I’m surprised which is...
  • Jipes: Not at all, I’m really sorry if my comment seems odd but compare to people like Tallest Man on Earth,...