Even Better Than Aretha Franklin's Hat

I grew up in a house where a lot of classical music was played, and a lot of Sesame Street was watched. I bet I heard the traditional Shaker tune "Simple Gifts" before I could even talk, thanks to Aaron Copland's "Appalachian Spring;" I've kind of idolized violinist Itzhak Perlman ever since I saw him on my black-and-white TV; and, well, I've posted before about what I think of Yo-Yo Ma. So, aside from the actual fact of Barack Obama becoming President (and George Bush going away), can you guess what part of Tuesday's inauguration I liked best? That's right, even more than Aretha Franklin's hat, or Joe Biden's smile you could see from the moon, or even Obama saying stuff like, "We will restore science to its rightful place," and, "We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus -- AND NON-BELIEVERS!" (Okay, no, he didn't actually scream that last part, but my non-believing soul screamed out "THANK YOU" in response!)

Are you still with me? We're guessing what part of the inauguration I liked best. And, yes, you're right! Here we have it, "Air and Simple Gifts," arranged by John Williams, performed by Itzhak Perlman on violin, Yo-Yo Ma on cello, Anthony McGill on clarinet, and Gabriela Montero on piano (wearing the cutest cut-off gloves ever):

By the way, let's give them props for getting beautiful sounds out of those instruments in frigid temperatures and with the wind whistling in their ears. Seriously. Those instruments shouldn't even have been out in that weather. And when is formalwear going to start to include winter hats? All those cold ears at the inauguration; it was hard to watch.

Did you watch? Did it make your ears cold? And did you have a favorite part?

Oh, and before I go: no, "non-believing soul" is NOT an oxymoron.



tinkandalissa said…
Aside from the beautiful song that, let's face it, probably had all of us choked up, I think my favorite part was when they showed Barack walking out to prepare to take the oath. He just totally looked like he wanted to be grinning from ear to ear; like he was actually trying really hard to look serious. That was priceless! the whole thing gave me goosebumps! I was ecstatic all day! I am so proud of my country!!
I also think that it's kind of funny that they called the ole Justice back out last night to redo the oath since he royally frigged it up the first time. Jackass.
ICQB said…
The song was magic. The whole thing was magic. I was waving my little flag at appropriate moments, even though I didn't have one.

I wondered if the first ladies (former and present), were wearing slips made of hand warmers and thermacare wraps under their knee length dresses.

Yesterday I was so thrilled to hear on the radio the phrase, "Today, President Obama..."
Unknown said…
I absolutely agree - the song was stunning and I certainly felt for them: no hats, formalwear, no gloves. Yowza.

And I think my favorite part of the President's speech (but impossible to pick just one...) was the quote: "We will restore science to its rightful place." YES! And I'm thrilled he included "non-believers". HOWEVER, I really loathe the term "non-believers" and was disappointed he used it. The implication is that one who doesn't "believe" has no belief system at all...which we all know isn't true. We're agnostics, atheists, humanists...there's a complicated belief system involved in not buying into the One Almighty God paradigm. I rankled at the term "non-believers."

That said, I know I'm looking a gift horse in the mouth. Ultimately, I'm on cloud nine and filled with hope and optimism.
Sibylle said…
I don't really like the term "non-believer" as it's a negative defined via faith. It's placing faith first, and "non-believer" as opposed to it. I would have liked it more if he had said agnostics and atheists in the same breath he said the rest of it but well.
I watched it on CNN live as I'm French and don't have CNN and my favourite part also was the beautiful song. It's always a bit surprising for those who don't live in the USA to see that such a huge part is given to the church in a secular country. We don't have that here at all, I was astonished to hear Rick Warren's prayer and Reverend Lowery's benediction (although I thought this one was more inspired than Elizabeth Alexander's poem - which was beautiful but badly delivered - church winning against literature, sad sad day).
Anonymous said…
I love how Yo-Yo Ma always looks absolutely joyous to be playing. Even on a cold January day. It was incredibly beautiful. Definitely my favorite part of the ceremony.
Anonymous said…
Well, I just started Graceling and I'm wondering how is it that there can be an author out there that manages to make the first hundred pages of her book so full of awesome. Seriously! I was at the gym this morning and my mom was like "Hillary, your bike turned off already." I WAS STILL GOING! Because your book is so awesome I forgot I was at the gym and on a bike.

I used to play the cello. I miss it.

YAY! for Non-believers!
Anonymous said…
That was magical. I couldn't watch it all live unfortunately, but I caught up later. The fact that he said non-believers somewhat assuaged my anger in the fact that there was so much religion present in the ceremony with prayer and such. Still, it was a beautiful inauguration promising change. Barack and Michelle are troopers attending like 10 balls or some insane number. Way to go!
Pam said…
Hope. I feel an overwhelming sense of hope. Bush was elected the year my first child was born. A tight knot of fear formed in the pit of my stomach as we began the war in Iraq. The fear is still there, but now I feel hope.
I loved Yo Yo's smile - he looked like he was having fun
Amanda said…
my favorite part was how callum got so excited to see obama no matter what channel we flipped to (and on the cover of newsweek when we brought in the mail). there's not much cooler than hearing a 2 1/2 year old shouting, "yay, president obama!" and "congratulations, obama!"

(and yes, i enjoyed the shout-out to nonbelievers, though like others, i don't love that term. but at least he recognized the non-religious souls:))
Anonymous said…
i too, really liked the inclusion of non-believers. i know that may not be the best way of phrasing what we feel, the fact that there is a ceremony and tradition in place that starts with an invocation, includes many "god bless america's", and ends with a benediction,can leave some of us feeling a bit on the outside of the circle. and i am so glad that he was open minded enough to include everyone, no matter how he defined us.
Anonymous said…
Hi Kristin,

I have watched as much of the event as I possibly can... Unfortunately, I was in class for the entire live viewing and all of the surrounding festivities :( It was quite a bummer, but I suppose college and life in general yield those every once in awhile when we must pay responsibility homage. I see or hear something new about the Inauguration everyday, but after viewing your video, I am wishing that I skipped class.

Today has been quite a roller-coaster. I worked this morning, rode my bike back from work while it was pouring icy rain, went to two classes (both lectured on Human Evolution), had a roaring argument with myself over Evolutionary Theory, and watched an incandescent video that brought me to tears (the kind that drip off of the chin).

Before watching this video, my favorite aspect of the entire entourage was the prospect of children in the White House again. Granted, I, personally do not remember ever seeing a child in the White House, but my mom does. She has recalled many stories of her childhood viewings, so I have lived vicariously. However, not any more. "Air and Simple Gifts" is now one of my favorites, but Sasha and Malia made my inaugural Tuesday. I've always thought that living in the White House would be such a grand adventure, but that is not what draws me to Sasha and Malia. They both simply sparkle, and I am so proud to have a President with children that fill me with such hope.
Well, this is long enough for one comment, and I feel the need to make sure Yo-Yo Ma's grin and lack of music reading is as rampant as I think.

hooray for non-believing souls!!!!!
id love to learn cello but im kinda busy learning drums and guitar and teaching myself piano. hey, i want to be a song writer, so i gotta know my instraments. which i will never learn to spell correctly. thank god (or whatever there is) for spell check.
did u watch lie to me last night? its my new fave show!!

"and if u say there aint know way that i could know"-im good im gone by lykke li, who is from sweeden, the song was played during a fringe commercial, and im going to see her for my b-day
Anonymous said…
Unfortunately, my school district had a whole day "competency exam" for our grade (and no one else!), so while we gained a new President, I was adding 2 and 3 (without a calculator, can you believe it!?) and picking out odd numbers. Woohoo! But I forced my dad to scavenge back into the olden days and tape the inauguration on our VCR, so I got to celebrate Tuesday night. It was great! And I really enjoyed Simple Gifts - that was amazing! As a former clarinetist, I can tell you how extremely difficult and amazing it was that he was able to produce sounds like that in such weather! It was beautiful, as the whole ceremony was.
mysteryflavour said…
It's amazing how you posted the exact same parts that stuck out to me in exactly the order that they did. Three cheers for science and non-believers! And Aretha's hat made me laugh out loud, though I was already grinning broadly when she walked on, and I'm sure many things much less funny would have made me giggle, too.
Kristin Cashore said…
You know, it's funny, I was so relieved to be included in the list of "faiths" for once that it didn't even occur to me to dislike the word he used. I see what you all mean, though. And did anyone else feel annoyed on behalf of Buddhists? Btw, isn't freedom of speech fun? He's been President for two days, and already, we're picking apart every word.

Did any of you see Roger Sutton's report about Barack retaking his oath? Cute :o)

Sibylle, I'm always embarrassed by the impression foreigners must get about Americans and religion, when the truth is that so many of us would prefer that our politics and religion be separate, for real. I don't even like when politicians say "God bless you, and God bless America;" I'm one of those people who think God should be taken out of the Pledge of Allegiance and off of the money. And of course, it works its way into everything, not just ceremonies... Sigh...

I also loved Yo-Yo's grin -- and how about the huge smile on the face of the clarinetist once it was all over and he didn't need to be scrunching up his lips? And Itzhak Perlman just exudes "gentle soul" to me.

Thanks for your comments, everyone :o)
Anonymous said…

Also, this sort of rained on my parade:
Anonymous said…
Sad to say, I only got to listen to Obama's oath and speech since I was on my way home from college, but it was pretty amazing. Im very proud of Bidens crazy smile. Delawarean here. Shows that a little state can have big important people =] His wife used to teach at my college... and there was secret service all over campus. It was so flippin' amazing. =D Heck yes to "non-believers!" XD
Anonymous said…
The whole thing was awesome. :]

I got to skip the first few periods of school to go to a local movie theater with my family to see it on la huge screen. I loved Simple Gifts. I know I have played some version of it before so it is special to me. The whole bit about changing with the changing world in the speech was really entertaining to me, because I had written about that just a few days prior in a school assignment (it was on a more personal level, but it totally applied). My brother complained about everything through his Facebook status which I got updates on through my phone (he's away at college, so it's a way to communicate). He hadn't gotten any sleep that night. It was kinda funny. Anyway, the whole experience was really special to me, but then when I got back to school that bright feeling diminished quickly. Huurrr.
Anonymous said…
I just finished reading Graceling and have passed it on to one of my students who saw me reading it during class. (Terrible, I know, but my students were working on an online genetics lab and weren't needing help.)
You can't believe how delighted I was when I googled you and found this blog and your post, which reflected my exact thoughts about the inaguration. I loved the Simple Gifts selection(totally amazing that they could perform like that in the cold weather!) and I thought Obama's statement about restoring science to it's rightful place was AWESOME (especially since I teach Biology and Anatomy)! It was the first time I can remember ever tearing up during some sort of political event.
You should know that you've gained a devoted fan. I'll be eagerly awaiting your next book and following your blog in the meantime. Many thanks and keep up the great work!!!
Sibylle said…
Kristin, thanks for the link about re-taking the oath. It is cute ! I was really shocked to hear Roberts say it out of order during the inauguration, he should have let Obama to do it by himself since Obama looked like he knew it by heart anyway.
I know lots of people said that it would give the Republicans a reason to say that he wasn't president, etc, Democrats said that it was a political manoeuvre on the part of Roberts, etc. both said that it was a bad omen, etc.
So yes, I'm glad it's finally settled :)
Sibylle said…
... and without any Bible. Lovely.
Ai said…
Oh, you hit on two of the points that made me incredibly happy on Inauguration Day: everything that had to do with Air and Simple Things (John Williams, Aaron Copland, Appalachian Springs, Itzhak Perlman, Yo-Yo Ma, the glorious piano and clarinet playing, etc.), and the mention of non-believers!
Kristin Cashore said…
Dac, you always bring sun to my parade.

Dianna, here's a secret I don't usually reveal, but I went to high school in Scranton. So, I also have innate Joe Biden love and pride!

Sibylle, that would've been pretty funny, if he'd just said the whole thing himself :o)

I'm loving the inauguration stories! And Julie, thanks for the thumbs up, and thanks for teaching biology and anatomy!!!!
Anonymous said…
Hey, we're playing this in my band class this year! (^_^) We're taking it to NY with us on our school trip (^_^)
I got lucky; we got to watch the inauguration at school. The song was so beautiful I almost cried - well, sorta almost cried! I love seeing music like that played before my eyes!
Laura said…
Yes! I loved so many parts of his speech, including/especially the "and non-believers." I'm with you - I understand not liking the term, but I was so happy to be included!

I also agree with you about "God Bless America" and God in the Pledge and on money. Glad to know I'm not alone. (I live in Texas, it can feel that way.) :)
mysteryflavour said…
Unfortunately, I just heard that Yo-yo Ma and his fellow performers were not actually playing live music. I guess it really was too cold.

Kristin Cashore said…
Hi mysteryflavour -- actually, they *were* playing live music. It's only that just the people very close to them would have heard it; the rest of us heard the pre-recording. A friend of mine who's a cellist was actually really mad that some people were comparing them to Milli Vanilli. There was no way they could have played those instruments in that cold; the piano, in particular, would not have stayed in tune in those conditions, and the others wouldn't have sounded much better! Apparently, pre-recording in those conditions is standard.

That being said, I wish the newscasters had explained this to everyone when it happened.
Anonymous said…
O.O oh way! Thats amazing. I havent been up that far in PA yet. Im really glad everyone is proud of Biden. =]

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