Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Progressive Music Classics. "The Day John Kennedy Died" by Lou Reed



Welcome to another edition of Progressive Music Classics.

Today's selection is Lou Reed's heartbreaking "The Day John Kennedy Died," which appeared on Reed's 1982 masterpiece album, The Blue Mask.

A lot of cultural and social critics have written that America lost its innocence on November 22, 1963. That may be the case. In this song, Reed seems to be saying that we lost our idealism as well, as a nation and as a people.

Like many of us, Reed yearns for the ability to somehow turn back the clock and reverse the horror of JFK's death: a watershed moment from which America never really recovered. (And frankly, it's pretty much been all downhill for the U.S. since then).

I realize that it's easy to romanticize Camelot and to build Kennedy up as this mythic Progressive Hero. But if you think that's naive, consider that Kennedy was very likely killed by the Military Industrial Complex. He made some very powerful enemies, so clearly, he must have been doing something right.

Of course, these days, America's Rich & Powerful no longer have to resort to assassinating our leaders. They simply make sure that whoever wins the White House is bought and paid for long before the oath of office is ever administered.


Jack Jodell said...

Great piece, Marc. These are indeed tough times for once innocent, good-hearted Americans who have become enslaved by corporate greed.

Marc McDonald said...

Hi Jack, thanks for your comment and for stopping by.
I often try to imagine possible scenarios in which the Kennedy brothers weren't killed. It's hard to say what might have happened. But I suspect that Reagan (and later, the Bushes) would never have come to power.
I think today's America would have been a vastly more fair and egalitarian place. Although it'd still hardly be Sweden, it'd at least be a place that at least tries to live up to the ideals that many people still have for this country.

Jack Jodell said...

My sentiments exactky, Marc!

Unknown said...

Marc, I have not forgotten this post and thank you for it. I have posted a link to it on FB. Thanks for posting, mon ami.

Marc McDonald said...

Hi Len, thanks for stopping by and for your comment.