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The Song of Obama, and Other Inaugural Outtakes

By Garance Franke-Ruta
One of the more extraordinary aspects of a mass spectacle in the age of digital technology is the way collective experience captured by the sweep of official cameras is followed by a second media wave produced by unofficial photographers and videographers who continue to bring their experiences into representation long after the formal newsmakers have moved on.

And so it was over the weekend that a friend from college posted to his Facebook feed -- and hence mine -- the above video, originally uploaded there by Kristin Rothballer with the comment, "This amazing singing group from Kenya ushered us out of the Opening Ceremony on Sunday with The Song of Obama... been singing it ever since." Just one moment among many for the throngs on the Mall -- and now thousands of non-attendees can be there, too. Late last night, she added the video to YouTube.

YouTube turns out to contain, unsurprisingly, a trove of African Obama tributes, songs and television clips. Other Kenyan Obama songs can be found here and here and here and here and here. There's apparently also a YouTube microgenre devoted to taking the clip of Obama -- or Michelle Obama -- dancing on "The Ellen deGeneres Show" and setting it to various regional musics, as occurs halfway through this Ethiopian clip, in Amharic.

As well, someone has posted an unsanctioned clip of a German television station's video of the highlights of the pre-inauguration "We Are One" concert on the Mall. Here's Pete Seeger and Bruce Springsteen singing "This Land is Your Land." After an outcry last week, HBO, which has a six-month license to broadcast the "We Are One" event, stopped asking YouTube to take clips of the concert down. Most of the rest of the highlights can now be found on the Google-owned video-sharing site.

By Web Politics Editor  |  January 26, 2009; 9:21 AM ET
Categories:  Barack Obama , Making the Rounds , New Media  
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More hero worship, like declaring him "genetically superior"

Posted by: MatthewAvitabile | January 26, 2009 3:52 PM | Report abuse

(Sung to the tune of "I am a Rock" - Simon and Garfunkel)

"I am Barack, I am Joe Biiiiiiiiiiideeennn"

Posted by: JRM2 | January 26, 2009 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Are there any that are sung to the tune of "Puff, the Magic Dragon"? ;~)

Posted by: SAINT---The | January 26, 2009 1:38 PM | Report abuse

Um, you might want to change that line that says "Just one moment among many for the thongs on the Mall" to "Just one moment among many for the THRONGS on the Mall."

Although the first certainly conjured up an image I had not previously connected with the Inauguration...

Posted by: ewillett | January 26, 2009 10:52 AM | Report abuse

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