Janet Reno has a new
album. To be more specific, she has a three-CD, 50-song compilation
called Song of America. Yes, that’s this Janet Reno.
Remember her? First female
Attorney General of the United States, often lesbian-baited, regularly parodied — most famously
on Saturday Night Live. (“Janet Reno’s Dance Party,” anyone?)
That’s the Janet Reno I mean.
Are you as confused as I was
when I first read about this?
I’ll clarify. I was flipping
through Entertainment Weekly
yesterday and noticed the following story: “Jan, You Did It? Ex-attorney
general Janet Reno finds her inner DJ to kick out some rather patriotic
jams.” It seems that in 2005, Reno was impressed by music producer
David Macias’ Grammy-winning tribute to Stephen Foster and decided to create an educational
tool to help American History teachers.
"There are so many students
who just tune American history out … But if they had music with it,
I thought they could have an understanding and appreciation for our
So, she accompanied Macias
to the Grammys to recruit talent. And two years later, she’s officially
in the music business.
Now, I should clarify that
she does not sing any of the 50 tracks in the collection. As some of
you may remember, her last public-singing exhibition was a little bit,
(If you really want to be disturbed
by the sight of a former Attorney General Singing, check out the
of John Ashcroft singing his original song, “Let the
But back to Janet Reno. She
recruited 50 artists to record covers of 50 Americana songs — covering
themes and events in American history from 1620 to the present. The
tracks range from “Yankee Doodle” (Harper Simon) to “Rosie
the Riveter” (Suzy Boguss) to “Where Were You When the World
Stopped Turning” (The Wrights). It also includes a version
of “Little Boxes” — which I can only hear as the Weeds theme song. Click here for a full song list.
Although I was quite perplexed
at first, I quickly came around to thinking that this compilation was
a great idea. Regardless of whether it actually gets incorporated into
curricula as a teaching aid, it’s certainly interesting — at least
to history geeks like me. (And my girlfriend thought it sounded fun,
too, so I’m not entirely alone in this.)
You can check the Song of
America MySpace page for more information.