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Best 2007 - Minneapolis: Al Franken's Stump Songs

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As touted in this week's Backbeat, music editors from across the country asked luminaries from our respective towns to tell us what music they loved this year. Their picks appear below and on the subsequent pages.

Former Saturday Night Live cast member, screenwriter, New York Times best-­selling author and St. Louis Park native Al Franken is currently living in Minneapolis and campaigning for a seat in the U.S. Senate. Like any good candidate, he knows his way around a speech.

"First of all, I have to make a con­fession," Franken begins. "My favorite music of 2007 bears a striking resemblance to my favorite music of 1975. Also to my favorite music of 1976, 1977, 1978, etc., etc.

"See, I'm a Deadhead. As anyone who listened to my radio show knows, I used the Grateful Dead as my bumper music going in and out of breaks. And there's a real community of Deadheads out there. At an event the other day, a guy handed me a new remix of 'Cornell '78.'

"That said, I do allow a few new influences into my musical consciousness every once in a while. So, here's my list of five non-Grateful Dead things I've been listening to in 2007."

"Bob"

"That's the format used by KLCI 106.1 FM, and it's a mix of contemporary and older country that is apparently mimicked by many "Bob" or Bob-like stations across the country. I love country music because I like the unabashed melodrama."

Trampled by Turtles

"Speaking of country, I'm a big bluegrass fan. I got turned on to this band by Tom Saxhaug, the state senator from Grand Rapids [Minnesota]. I thought it was a little suspicious that he spent most of our first meeting telling me how great their new album was. And wouldn't you know it, his son turns out to be the bass player. But the album really is great. This New Year's Eve, [wife] Franni and I will be at the TBT show at the Orpheum."

Fountains of Wayne

"Specifically, their song 'Better Things,' which is a cover of a Kinks tune. I think it's going to be our campaign song because of its message, which is that better things are up ahead."

The Grateful Volunteers

"Okay, this is kind of a cheat. The Grateful Volunteers are a Dead cover band composed of some great DFLers who are kind enough to play at some of our events. And even kinder enough to let me sing once in awhile. Specifically, 'Brokedown Palace.'"

Call Time: The Musical

"This warrants some explanation. As you know, running for Senate requires that I raise a great deal of money, especially since Norm Coleman has the deep-pocketed special interests on his side. So I spend hours and hours a week calling people to ask for support. To keep myself from going crazy, I've been entertaining myself and Kris Dahl, my 'call time manager,' by composing and singing hundreds — no, thousands — of songs for a musical titled Call Time: The Musical.

"Some songs are only 15 seconds long, such as 'I Left a Message and I Hope They Call Me Back.' Or, 'I Don't Think That Was His Office Number (I Think That's His Home).' Most of the songs have original music, but some simply use existing tunes, such as 'Pick Up the Phone, Arlen Lundahl,' to the tune of 'Don't Cry for Me, Argentina' from Evita.

"I should probably have just put 'Springsteen' for this, huh? I really like his new album."

-- Sarah Askari

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