Like a Harry Smith who caught the Unabomber, Janet Reno has put together a three-disc box set that features “50 songs, reinterpreted by artists including John Mellencamp, the Black Crowes, Martha Wainwright and Devendra Banhart, the story of America and the different challenges it has faced, from war to racism to the Depression, is retold for today’s audiences.” Our former Attorney General is a freak-folkie. Also she is confident the Black Crowes can teach you stuff about America that you never knew before.
I think they can learn more about their country, I think they can be inspired by what they hear, from some of these songs. They can remember when they are facing adversity that people were able to overcome terrible situations in their life and in the history of our country. When you think about it, the Depression, which this project talks about in clear detail, was such a dark cloud over this nation. I remember my mother’s stories of the Depression. If my mother could carry a tune she would have composed one of these songs that talks about the Depression, because it was so much a part of her life. And then to come out of the Depression into World War II, into the greatest war we have ever had, and to face the challenge of the atomic bomb, ever present after that war, gives us a sense of the challenge we face. But it’s also there to say, “Look, we did it, we can overcome, we can get past this time in our history.”
So it’s like junior high history and civics taught by Johnny Cougar? Reno also says she does not plan on returning to Washington anytime soon, as it’s “important that we constantly have new people coming in as we have new songs, or identify new songs to give us fresh perspective on an issue.” That’s why she’s chosen to spend the last few years out of politics and focusing on her own updated take on traditional music, which she sets to harp and releases under the name “Joanna Newsom.”