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Why did New Radicals reform for Joe Biden’s inauguration? The answer may bring a tear to your eye.

When Gregg Alexander, his fisherman’s hat, and his musician buddies formed New Radicals in 1997, they burst into the alt-rock scene with a massive single in “You Get What You Give” and cementing their place in history as a one-hit-wonder. But that entirely by choice.

Maybe You’ve Been Brainwashed, Too, was the band’s one-and-only album. After being chewed up by the record industry on an endless promotional tour–he’d started wearing a big white hat to hide the fact that he was just phoning in his performances–Alexander announced the break-up of the band on July 12, 1999. There was a second single–props if you remember “Someday We’ll Know”–but it was a flop and the band disappeared.

Alexander went on to become a songwriter and producer for hire. That included “The Game of Love,” a song that won a Grammy for Santana in 2003. There was an uncredited and anonymous song called “A Love Like That” released online in 2003, but only hardcore fans noticed.

Fast-forward to 2013-15. Beau Biden, Joe’s eldest son, was suffering from glioblastoma, the same brain cancer that killed Gord Downie and Neil Peart. As he faced down the disease, “You Get What You Give” became something of a theme song for Beau. This is from Joe Biden’s memoir, Promise Me, Dad:

“During breakfast, Beau would often make me listen to what I thought was his theme song, ‘You Get What You Give’ by the New Radicals. Even though Beau never stopped fighting and his will to live was stronger than most – I think he knew that this day might come. The words to the song are: This whole damn world can fall apart. You’ll be ok, follow your heart.”

When it came time to be sworn in as the 46th president, Joe asked Alexander to bring the band back together for the first time in 22 years to perform the song in honour of Beau. Alexander immediately agreed. Hey, wouldn’t you?

Expect a huge spike in streams and downloads for “You Get What You Give” over the next week.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38513 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

2 thoughts on “Why did New Radicals reform for Joe Biden’s inauguration? The answer may bring a tear to your eye.

  • Honestly, I thought it was a pretty decent album. Still do. And I thought their performance was pretty good yesterday. Impressed he can still hit the notes.

  • I’m not crying, you’re… no, wait – I am. Wow, that’s some powerful stuff! I’ve always loved that song, but this puts it on another level.


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