That chorus of voices emanating from the campaign bus of Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards is the doing, or the undoing, of his wife. "I go to websites to get music and lyrics, and I put them in a songbook I started in college," says Elizabeth Edwards. "Then I make people sing with me on the road. I torture my family and anyone who comes close to me."

The tradition of sing-alongs can be traced back to her growing up in a military family. "The Bull Meechum character in The Great Santini is nothing like my father," she says, "but the thing we had in common is that you sing in the car everywhere you go. You sing between one duty station and the next duty station."

Much of the infamous songbook was compiled long before there were computers. "I would take the words down in shorthand, so there are lots of mistakes," says Edwards. "Now I spend an inordinate amount of time making sure they're correct. What I do is sit at my computer and sing the songs. I have more than 5,000 lyrics—if I printed the whole thing, it would be multiple volumes. I recognize that I am probably 15 years past the point of reason, but I can't stop. If the house were burning, after the children and the photo negatives, what I'd save is the songbook."


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