Before reading this post, you must click play on the above audio link. Yes, that's it. Go ahead.
The song is indistinguishable from any kindergarten singalong for a few bars ... and then you hear it.
"As EYE went WAHking."
And then, from that moment, your life is changed forever. Although most accents seem to evaporate when paired with music, some are amplified, their exaggerations bouncing off the notes ... "I sawrerbove me. That endless sKYway."
Now you can cross "Hearing Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) sing a Woody Guthrie song" off your bucket list, so it can join "Listening to Vladimir Putin sing a song in English" and "Watching a presidential candidate sing 'Imagine,' except about pizza -- and make sure there's a gospel choir there too."
Seven Days, an alternative newspaper in Burlington, Vt., tracked down the audio. It's from a 1980s album that featured Vermonters singing covers.
Sanders gave [local musician Todd] Lockwood a list of songs, mostly from Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger, he would be willing to record.
The plan was for Sanders to sing relatively straightforward renditions of a handful of them. And that apparently seemed like a good idea to everyone. Until Sanders stepped into the recording booth for the first time.
“As talented of a guy as he is, he has absolutely not one musical bone in his body, and that became painfully obvious from the get-go,” Lockwood said. “This is a guy who couldn’t even tap his foot to music coming over the radio. No sense of melody. No sense of rhythm — the rhythm part surprised me, because he has good rhythm when he’s delivering a speech in public.”
So they had to come up with a plan B. Lockwood decided to turn the event into a “We Are The World"-style recording session: He called in a couple dozen Vermont musicians to serve as backup singers, while Bernie more or less read/preached the key lyrics with as much rhythm as he could muster.
They sold a few hundred cassettes. The recording of Burlington's mayor were supposedly popular among conservatives, who purchased the tape as a gag gift.
The New York Times wrote about the cassette tapes in 1987. The short story was titled, "Singing Socialist Of Burlington."
''I didn't have the faintest idea whether he had a musical bone in his body,'' Mr. Lockwood said. ''And I'm still not sure.''
Mr. Sanders said he was excited about the songs, as well as a 20-minute talk he'll deliver on the flip side of the tape.
''I'm enthusiastic about the project,'' Mr. Sanders said. ''Music, especially folk music and gospel music, has always been important to me.''
Sanders is not the only senator to have saved his dulcet tones for posterity. The late Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) recorded the album "Mountain Fiddler" in 1978. As of 2006, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) had composed more than 300 songs. Other senators would only sing in public if they lost a bet, like Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.).
For your listening pleasure, here is more of the album: