Janet Reno turns DJ for new CD -- The ex-attorney general discusses the patriotic tunes from ''Songs of America''

By Chris Willman
October 05, 2007 at 04:00 AM EDT

The towering, skirt-suited icon of SNL‘s ”Janet Reno’s Dance Party” skits is making aural history again. She’s curated Songs of America, a compilation of 50 tunes (from ”Yankee Doodle” to ”The Message”) interpreted by contemporary artists.

Sometimes songs like these are stamped as ”patriotic” or ”jingoistic”… This is a way to reclaim them, to see them in the context of a nation over 200 years. Music has been a symbol of protest, and it’s out of that that we get our strength to get through depressions and dust bowls and wars.
Did you come into this as, like, a Devendra Banhart fan? I’m not a music expert. But I did think that [his cover of Malvina Reynolds’] ”Little Boxes” perfectly represents this era.
Which tracks meant the most to you? ”Home on the Range” by Joni Harms, from growing up with a pony. And Tim O’Brien’s ”Thousands Are Sailing to Amerikay.” My father came from Denmark when he was 12.
This is probably a first for an attorney general. Well, John Ashcroft was a barbershop-quartet pro.
Any thoughts on what kind of album Alberto Gonzales would make? No!