The Presidents

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The Presidents
ReleaseThing a Week Three
Release date04-28-2006
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"The Presidents" is a song on Jonathan Coulton's sixth album, Thing a Week Three.


"The Presidents" was released as the thirtieth Thing a Week on April 28, 2006. It was originally written for John Hodgman's Little Gray BookLecture #30, "How to Observe Presidents Day (Observed)". Jonathan said it was originally performed with the Hungry March Band, who played "Hail to the Chief" in between verses. The Thing a Week version instead has Jonathan playing toy instruments.

Live Performance[edit]

As indicated above, "The Presidents" was originally played only during a Little Gray Lecture (Download MP3); it has more recently made its way back to the lineup, being performed at the Barack Obama fundraiser Audacity of Jokes, several of the stops for the John Hodgman More Information Than You Require tour, and the Nyack, NY: 2008-11-22 show.


  • There was construction on the other side of the studio wall during the recording of this session. Jonathan has said: "You may hear some of it here and there, but hey: this is Thing a Week, people."
  • President Garfield was, contrary to the lyrics, assassinated in 1881, not 1882. Jonathan corrected this during the above mentioned live performance with a lyric change to "General Grant thought getting drunk was fun".
  • George H. W. Bush is referred to as George Bush senior, this is technically incorrect because George W. Bush and George H. W. Bush have different initials so they should not be referred to as 'senior' or 'junior'
  • After the 2008 election, the song has been played with revised lyrics:

W's reign of terror is finally over
Obama's been pretty excellent so far

originally, it was
W's legacy's a work in progress.
That is all the Presidents so far.

In 2009, the George W. Bush lyric was again changed at the March 27th NYC show to:
W decided he was the decider

At the Boston show on September 26, 2009, the last two lines were:
W decided he was the decider
Obama has a peg-leg and a scar

It's currently unknown if any of these will be the permanent lyrics moving forward. (for more information, see:



"The Presidents" is currently only available for purchase in the Jonathan Coulton MP3 Store as an individual track or as part of Thing a Week III. Of course, this song is also included as part of the "Everything" playlist.

An mp3 of the original Little Gray Book performance is available here.


"Thing a Week III" is available for purchase as a CD here.


Thing-a-Week Three
1. Madelaine · 2. When You Go · 3. Code Monkey · 4. The Presidents · 5. Just as Long as Me · 6. Till the Money Comes · 7. Tom Cruise Crazy · 8. Famous Blue Raincoat · 9. Soft Rocked By Me · 10. Not About You · 11. Rock and Roll Boy · 12. Drinking With You · 13. Pizza Day