Tim Perry, the founding member of Portland's AgesandAges, was just waking up when he learned that the lead track from his band's debut album had been included on President Obama's Spotify playlist. Half-awake, he felt like he was being punked. "I kept searching for all the ways I was mistaken," he says, "but it just kept being true."
"No Nostalgia," a full-throated choral pop song about "the feeling of weightlessness" that comes after making a big decision to leave a bad situation, according to Perry, was chosen among 29 songs that will be used at Obama's reelection campaign stops. The mix is eclectic, ranging from classic R&B (Earth, Wind & Fire), pop (James Taylor) and rock (Bruce Springsteen, U2, Arcade Fire) to new country (Dierks Bentley, Sugarland) and lesser-knowns such as Ledisi and Nicole Willis and the Soul Investigators. Unsurprisingly, there are lots of songs about triumph and perseverance – "Keep on Pushing," "Keep Reachin' Up," "Raise Up," "Stand Up."
The AgesandAges song is a little more ambiguous. It may be about an imagined relationship, says Perry, but it's also "oddly political. It almost fantasizes about what it would be like if you could completely remove yourself from a negative climate and invent your own." In other words: Hope.
Though he admits he doesn't know too many Republicans in Portland, Perry says, the song was partly inspired by the sense that the whole country is living in a series of bubbles, where groups of people on either side of the political divide are closing themselves off from other points of view. It's about transcending "the way things can get dark and you can feel claustrophobic, unsatisifed with the status quo," he says.
Though Perry says he's been "a bit of a recluse lately," he went out last night in Portland and got "a lot of back-slaps. People are as weirded out as I am. It's great to be on anybody's playlist, and this happens to be the President. If this isn't the most random thing that's happened in my life, I don't know what is."