Tunes on Tuesday: Washington, DC

Why this tune?

In honor of this week’s Presidential inauguration in my city, Washington, DC, I wanted to focus on one of the best musical tributes to the nation’s capital. Gil-Scott Heron recorded “Washington, DC” in 1982, when another American leader was, in his words, “making the world a nervous wreck.”

The song captures the complexity of the city, which is both a symbol for the country and the world and a hometown for over 700,000 ordinary people. It really can be a “ball of contradictions, pulling different ways.”

Dig this detail!

I performed this tune with The Lucky So & Sos at the Kennedy Center in 2017. While learning the song, I came across Robert Mugge’s 1983 film Black Wax about Gil-Scott Heron. Heron sings his song in the film while walking around Howard University, around the time when our next vice president was studying there.

Hear the story

Check it out!

Gil-Scott Heron, from Moving Target

From the film “Black Wax”

The Lucky So & Sos at the Kennedy Center

Published by Oren Levine

Jazz pianist and composer in Washington, DC. Also a digital product and technology professional working at a small DC nonprofit

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