At last ... that song is over

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By Gilbert Garcia

To borrow one of Barack Obama's favorite phrases, let's be clear: I found yesterday's inauguration to be exciting and inspiring; I love Etta James; and I consider "At Last" to be a perfectly fine ballad (even if Christina Aguilera and co. have run it into the ground over the last few years). But watching Barack and Michelle Obama have to dance to the same song at 10 different inaugural balls felt like being trapped in Groundhog Day. I can't even guess how loopy the sheer repetition must have felt to the First Couple, clearly worn out, but trying to hold it together under the slow-groove onslaught.

The Holiday Inn band arrangement meticulously followed at each of the balls just added to the sense that our new president and first lady were being subjected to musical waterboarding. If anyone ever wants to coax state secrets out of the Obamas, I guarantee that about four bars of "At Last" will make them sing like canaries.

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