Hillary Clinton’s Music Strikes a Minor Chord

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mojo-photo-hillary.jpgWhile Senator Hillary Clinton’s speech tonight at the Democratic National Convention in Denver struck an energetic, unifying tone, the music used in her tribute video and walk-on offered an interesting counterpoint. The video, narrated by Chelsea and played before her speech, kicked off brightly and energetically, with a couple of rock tracks that were considered edgy when they first came out but have since settled into the classic-rock pantheon. First we heard The Kinks’ “You Really Got Me,” which is based entirely around rising, pulsing major chords, in the upbeat “Louie Louie” style of the time. Then we segued into Lenny Kravitz’ “Are You Gonna Go My Way,” a track whose funky minor chords in the verses give way to celebratory major chords in the chorus. Next up, Tom Petty’s “American Girl,” whose chorus kicks off with major chords but then steps briefly into melancholy territory, with a few minor chords expressing a certain nostalgia.

Then the music stepped down another notch. Halfway through the video, the images were accompanied by a dramatic orchestral arrangement based almost entirely around minor keys, somewhere between CBS’ “Cold Case” theme and The Killers’ “Somebody Told Me.” It was a surprisingly fierce choice for a moment that could have relied on cheesy balladry.

Finally, Hillary took the stage to a track she used often on the campaign trail (after that whole Celine Dion debacle): Big Head Todd and the Monsters’ “Blue Sky.” While its refrain of “we can change the world” couldn’t be more optimistic, the chorus returns again and again to a minor chord that gives the song a tone that touches on regret as much as hope. The song has an odd resemblance to Graham Nash’s “Chicago,” another minor-chord tune which may bring up uneasy reminders of another fractious Democratic convention. Whatever the night’s narrative, Hillary’s musical metanarrative touched only briefly on celebratory chords, veering quickly into nostalgia and even daringly intense fervor before settling on a reflective minor-chord wistfulness. While the speech electrified the crowd, the music seemed to seep into the subconscious and ask, “What if?”

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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