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   OF GREAT AND MORTAL MEN - 43 Songs for 43 U.S. Presidencies

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9/9/2008 11:00 pm

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Entered 9/17/2008, Updated 9/17/2008

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On September 9, 2008, Standard Recording Company released the release of a triple CD Of Great and Mortal Men: 43 Songs for 43 U.S. Presidencies, a collection penned by songwriters J. Matthew Gerken (of Nice Monster), Christian Kiefer, and Jefferson Pitcher (formerly of Above the Orange Trees). The set features a slew of special studio guests including Califone, Rosie Thomas, Bill Callahan (Smog), Alan Sparhawk (Low), Mark Kozelek (Red House Painters, Sun Kil Moon), Marla Hansen (Sufjan Stevens), Steve Dawson (Dolly Varden), Vince DiFiore (Cake), Monahans, James Jackson Toth (Wooden Wand), and Tom Carter (Charalambides). This project initially came about as part of “February Album Writing Month,” a website (www.fawm.org) that challenges songwriters to write 14 songs in 28 days. The three songwriters wrote and recorded rough demos of the first 42 songs in February 2006 (leaving only George W. Bush for later). “It was an amazing challenge to get that many songs written, even split three ways,” notes Kiefer. “Blasting the first four or five is easy and then you’ve used up all the ideas that have been floating around and have to come up with new ones. And you have to come up with those new ideas right now.” It was decided soon after that the project was too interesting to leave in the demo stage and so the recording process began anew with guests coming into the fray as time and schedules allowed. The project is now in its final phases. “It’s a walk through American history and an inquiry into what makes us Americans as filtered through the lens of our highest public office. There’s heartbreak and beauty and criticism and revelation. We’re trying to make it work like a big beautiful historical novel.”


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