In case you missed it, here’s Pitchfork’s nice note about our upcoming project:
Califone, Sparhawk, Kozelek Help Do Presidential Songs
As do Wooden Wand, Charalambides’ Tom Carter, Rosie Thomas, Denison Witmer
In most journalism circles, one of the biggest stories of the next year will be the 2008 U.S. presidential election, but since Obama, Clinton, and Giuliani have yet to form a shoegaze supergroup, we here at Pitchfork must stick to the Radiohead tour updates, Grizzly Bear collaborations, and indie rock nudity.
Nonetheless, Standard Recording Company has thrown us a bone in the politics department in the form of a three-CD box set tentatively titled Of Great and Mortal Men: 43 Songs About 43 U.S. Presidencies. The set’s subject matter is apparent, and its backstory doesn’t disappoint.
Christian Kiefer, Matthew Gerken (Nice Monster), and Jefferson Pitcher (ex-Above the Orange Trees) wrote nearly all of Of Great and Mortal Men‘s songs back in February 2006 as part of February Album Writing Month, a songwriting challenge to write 14 songs in 28 days. They pooled their efforts to pen a song apiece about all of the U.S. presidents (3 x 14 = 42, with the George W. Bush tune arriving later), and they came out of it with a heap of demos.
Then, they fleshed (and are fleshing) the songs out with studio contributions from Califone, Alan Sparhawk (Low), Mark Kozelek (Sun Kil Moon/Red House Painters), Wooden Wand and the Vanishing Voice, Rosie Thomas, Denison Witmer, Marla Hansen (Sufjan Stevens’s band), Vince DiFiore (Cake), and Tom Carter (Charalambides), among others.
Kiefer calls the resultant box set “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.”
Of Great and Mortal Men does not yet have a definite release date, but Standard plans to put it out in the summer. The tracklist is here (seriously, it’s that simple). Susan Archie is scheduled to design the art for the box itself, and the package will come with 43 cards, each with an image of one of the presidents done by one of 43 different artists.
Finally, Standard will supplement the set with a 44th song, available next November following the election. As soon as the results are official, everyone who bought the box set can go to the label’s website and download Mr. or Mrs. 44’s song.