Even Without Obama, Kanye West Reclaims Chicago and Lollapalooza

August 4, 2008 1:15 AM ET

Rumors of Barack Obama being onhand to introduce Kanye West proved false. No matter. Aiming to permanently put the Bonnaroo debacle in the past, the local rapper came out not to just conquer the festival stage but to reclaim his hometown as his own. West's flashy light show lived up to promise. Yet despite all the popping strobes, panning spotlights and pastel illumination, the emcee remained the focus of attention. His energy and intensity backed up his cocky attitude and prodigious boasts. Examinations of conscious, conversations with god and motivational talks punctuated a non-stop beat-heavy blitz. West tackled "Heard 'Em Say," "Diamonds From the Sierra Leone" and "Can't Tell Me Nothing" with the kind of elevated drama and drive that fuels champion athletes. He inhabited the narrative of "Put On," pushing the song until it became an autobiographical statement and personal pledge. "This performance is for the lady that drove me to Chicago at the age of three," he stated during the track, before getting everyone to scream for his mother. Such candor and motivation are not only what make West a visionary; they are what make him human.

More Lollapalooza Coverage: Rock 'N' Roll Diary

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Song Stories

“Bird on a Wire”

Leonard Cohen | 1969

While living on the Greek island of Hydra, Cohen was battling a lingering depression when his girlfriend handed him a guitar and suggested he play something. After spotting a bird on a telephone wire, Cohen wrote this prayer-like song of guilt. First recorded by Judy Collins, it would be performed numerous times by artists incuding Johnny Cash, Joe Cocker and Rita Coolidge. "I'm always knocked out when I hear my songs covered or used in some situation," Cohen told Rolling Stone. "I've never gotten over the fact that people out there like my music."

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