5 Songs That Mention Presidents of The United States

I don't have to tell you where the inspiration for this post came from, but oddly, compiling a good list of songs that name drop past American presidents was harder than I thought it would be. Many of the songs I found were about the most controversial Commanders-in-Chief or campaign songs. I believe using the latter would be cheating so a rule I applied is that the song, at one time, had to be commercially available to the public for purchase. The tunes mentioned here may not always be about a specific chief executive, but instead they could be about events that occured while that president was in office. Some famous songs, such as Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young's "Ohio," and Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start The Fire" were left out as being too obvious. In the end, I hope you agree that I was able to find five good ones. They are listed here in no particular order.

The Presidential Rag - Arlo Guthrie (1974)
This is an extremely scathing assessment of President Richard Nixon (1969 - 1974) and Watergate from a man who wasn't afraid of getting political. True to form, Guthrie found the humor in serious situations even if he wasn't trying to be funny. I first wrote about this song here in 2010, long enough ago to revive it for this post. It's from Guthrie's self-titled, 1974 LP.

Abraham, Martin and John - Dion (1968)
Choosing this popular hit of the day is another obvious choice. It was written by a songwriter named Dick Holler and the former doo-wop icon, Dion DiMucci, took it to #4 on the Hot 100 that summer. It's not only a tribute to the three men named in the title, it also wants to know why their lives were taken. Bobby Kennedy, a fourth, tragic, shooting victim is also mentioned in the song. It's a sad, folk-rock piece far removed from the old style pop Dion was known for. The former teen idol is still recording today and leans heavily towards the blues. He released a great album in 2016.


(A Child's View of) The Eisenhower Years - Al Stewart (2008)
In some ways this is a different type of historical song than the man who brought us "The Year of the Cat" usually wrote because he incorporated himself into the lyrics. Stewart usually discussed a specific person or event but this track is composed from his point of view as a 1950's kid growing up in the United Kingdom who was fascinated by the United States. Former American war hero Dwight D. Eisenhower was a popular president (1953-1961) during the era Stewart sang about and he referenced big American cars, baseball, Elvis Presley, the space race, Korea and more. It's from the folk-rocker's album Sparks of Ancient Light.

Dear Mrs. Roosevelt - Bob Dylan (1968)
This composition was part of a Woody Guthrie tribute concert at Carnegie Hall in 1968 that included Pete Seeger, Arlo Guthrie, Judy Collins, Joan Baez, Richie Havens and more. The album on which it originally appeared is currently out of print. The song was written as a letter to former First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt, about her husband, Franklin Delano (1933 - 1945). Guthrie told her not to "hang your head and cry" and ends the song with the line, "the world was lucky to have seen him born." It does not appear that Guthrie ever recorded the song and it was his last known composition. The lyrics can be found here.

Those Were The Days - Carroll O'Connor and Jean Stapleton (1971)
This is the famous theme from the iconic and groundbreaking All In The Family sitcom released with a longer, full band arrangement and additional lyrics with both Carroll O'Connor (Archie Bunker) and Jean Stapleton (Edith Bunker) sharing lead vocals. It references the late President Herbert Hoover as being part of the good old days even though most of his single term presidency (1929 - 1933) was during the Great Depression.


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