Friends say former President Clinton (search) is enjoying his foray into the music business so much with the release last week of a CD featuring his favorite recordings that he already is planning a second CD.
"The Bill Clinton Collection," available at Little Rock's Clinton Museum Store and on the store's Web site, has sold 1,000 copies so far. The CD features 11 tracts ranging from jazz to gospel to blues and folk.
Longtime Clinton friend Connie Fails, who operates the museum store, said she initially ordered 5,000 of the CDs and has been surprised by how quickly they are selling.
"People are picking up two to four at a time," she said.
The CDs, like all other items sold through the store, benefit the Clinton Foundation and its various projects, including HIV/ AIDS awareness and international economic development.
Fails said a major company has contacted her about distributing the CDs through a large chain of bookstores in the country and in stores overseas.
"That would just depend on what the rest of the foundation thinks. I'd be open to a wider distribution deal because it raises more money for Clinton's mission statement and his foundation," Fails said.
The CD project was timed to tie in with a special Clinton Library music exhibit, which includes a replica of Clinton's White House music room, a display of his favorite CDs, videos of Clinton White House musical performances and memorabilia given to Clinton by musicians including B.B. King, Bono and Fleetwood Mac (search).
It was Clinton Foundation President Skip Rutherford's idea for the former president to compile a CD of his favorite music.
"Music has been such an important part of his life and seemed an appropriate thing to do. It's been a lot of fun and I hope it's just the first in a series," Rutherford, another longtime Clinton friend, said.
Rutherford said the CD is a good example of how a presidential library can tie in a promotional item like a CD with a special exhibit. It's something the library, as it prepares to celebrate its year anniversary on Nov. 18, plans to do more often, he said.
The CD contains: "My One and Only Love" by John Coltrane, "Harlem Nocturne" by David Sandborn, "My Funny Valentine" by Miles Davis (search), "The Town I Loved So Well" by Phil Coulter, "There Will Never Be Another You" by Art Tatum, "Summertime" by Zoot Sims, "In the Presence of Jehovah" by Mickey Mangun, "Nostalgie" by Igor Butman, "I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free" by Nina Simone (search), "Take My Hand, Precious Lord" by Mahalia Jackson and "Chelsea Morning" by Judy Collins.
Clinton was so involved in the compilation that he rejected an early version of the CD because it didn't have his preferred version of "Chelsea Morning," Fails said. Collins recorded three versions of the song.
"President Clinton is really having fun with this CD. He said the other night that he already has his list for his second one," she said.
Quatresa Triplett of Atlanta visited Little Rock on business and found time to stop in the Clinton Museum Store and purchase the CD. Triplett said she'd heard about the CD and liked many of the artists, especially Mahalia Jackson.
"It seems like a great variety of music," she said.
Andrew Clough of Great Britain planned to purchase a CD after touring the Clinton music exhibit at the library, a few blocks from the store. The tour was the first time Clough had been introduced to Clinton's variety of musical tastes.
"Some of his tastes I quite like. Some things I haven't heard of. American country music, I'm not particularly fond of that," he said.
The Clinton music exhibit runs through the end of the year. The museum's next temporary exhibit will feature carousel horses created by an Arkansas craftsman whom Clinton worked with when Clinton was governor of Arkansas. The brief exhibit will tie in with the opening of a carousel at the Little Rock Zoo (search).
Following the carousel horse exhibit, the library plans a longer exhibit on legendary cowboy film stars, which will feature Clinton's favorite Western films and Arkansas cowboy legends.