Music News

Remembering Westword's endorsement of... George Clinton?

Not quite the next president of the United States.

Barack Obama's election last night stirred memories for me of the 1992 campaign. My son, Nick, was three-years old back then, and each time he saw a commercial touting one of the three major candidates, he delivered a stock response. At the sight of a George H.W. Bush spot, he'd declare, "I don't like George Bush. He's mean." Upon eyeballing an ad for H. Ross Perot, he'd say, "I don't like Ross Perot. He's crazy." And when a clip of Bill Clinton popped up, he'd announce, "I like George Clinton!"

Well, who didn't like George Clinton? As the founder of Parliment and Funkadelic, and the creator of some of the most exciting music in recent decades, he boasted funk credentials that were absolutely unimpeachable. And so, taking advantage of my exalted position as Westword's music editor, I formally endorsed George Clinton for president.

No, he didn't win -- until last night (and then only figuratively). But he anticipated such a victory years ago, in the title track to the 1975 album Chocolate City. Early in the tune, he says, "They still call it the White House/But that's a temporary condition."

Granted, Clinton predicted a different president-elect: "Don't be surprised if Ali is in the White House," he allowed. Moreover, his picks for the Cabinet probably aren't going to work out, although only one of them is dead: "Reverend Ike, Secretary of the Treasure/Richard Pryor, Minister of Education/Stevie Wonder, Secretary of Fine Arts." And his choice for first lady was Aretha Franklin, which may not sit well with Michelle Obama. But at least the song imagines harmony between the races instead of acrimony. At one point, he intones, "God bless Chocolate City... and its vanilla suburbs."

Obama would probably put it differently. But I'll bet he'd approve of the sentiment. -- Michael Roberts

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts