The tricks that memory plays

John Fitzgerald Kennedy, thirty-fifth President of the United States, was assassinated 48 years ago on this date. My memory of that day, of the following weekend, is clearer than my recall of yesterday’s lunch.

Some small part of this phenomenon might be benign senile forgetfulness [jokes and insults at my expense expected, and welcomed]. But CRAFT syndrome, as it’s commonly known, explains, if anything, only the second half of the comparison. The vivid immediacy of November 22, 1963 in my mind’s eye is something else entirely.

For Americans of my age group (I was 13 at the time), the shocking murder of JFK is the seminal moment of our lives. That day irrevocably altered the way the world worked for us. In my opinion, every single one of the 17,532 days since then exists on the continuum that began that afternoon. What Pearl Harbor was for my parents’ generation, what 9/11 probably represents for more recent generations, 11/22/1963 was the “where were you when … ?” moment for me and my fellow Baby Boomers.

For the record, where I was was Heritage Junior High School in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. Along with the other members of the school band, I had just returned from outdoor practice — we were going to play at the next day’s high school football game, a contest that never happened — and was stowing my instrument when the principal informed us of the shooting over the PA system. The news was too much to process immediately, so we mostly sat in stunned silence. The school was on the far side of the township from my home, but I have no real memory of the long ride home with a passel of fellow adolescents in that yellow school bus. I do remember the weekend, as the whole family stared endlessly at the TV news reports. We watched the lying-in-state at the Capitol. We watched Jack Ruby kill Lee Harvey Oswald on Sunday. We watched the state funeral on Monday. We were in shock throughout.

We had made plans to spend Thanksgiving with relatives in the DC suburbs that year. It was a very somber holiday indeed. While there, we went to Arlington Cemetery to pay our respects to the President. On a bright, cold, and windy afternoon, we joined a long line of our fellow Americans, shuffling slowly and silently (except for the sobs) past the freshly-dug gravesite. It was so soon after the event that we had to carefully step over the eternal flame’s gas line, which had not yet been buried.

Over the years, I’ve written a number of November 22 essays on my blog, Peace Tree Farm. In addition to a version of the 2008 DailyKos diary linked above, they are: Forty years (2003), The end of the innocence (2004), and 43 … and 46 (2006).

For me, the death of JFK marks the day on which “The Sixties” began. The idea of a counterculture was inconceivable on November 21, all but inevitable on November 23. We can argue about when The Sixties ended (probably somewhere between the 1972 election and the first Rolling Stone article about disco, in September 1973), but I think it would be a real reach to put their birth anywhere other than the Kennedy assassination.

Comments

  1. 2

    spews:

    @1:

    The difference, I think, is that there had been saber-rattling about nuclear war for a decade prior to the Missile Crisis. Yes, that was the closest we came, but I’d been ducking and covering since kindergarten.

    The Missile Crisis, then, was the climax of a known issue. The assassination was totally unexpected, a complete shock of an entirely new nature.

  2. 4

    Partyin' Hard spews:

    I was too young to have any personal memories of that day, but I’ve heard countless stories about how my mother literally sobbed as the news reports came in. And she loathed JFK.

    It says a lot about just how much the country has changed in the last 50 years. I doubt many Republicans would have that same reaction if (God forbid) the same thing happened to Obama. Or that many Democrats would’ve shed any tears for Bush had it happened to him. It’s sad, really. There was a time in this country when patriotism came before politics.

  3. 5

    spews:

    re 4: ‘It’s sad, really. There was a time in this country when patriotism came before politics.’

    …and that time was when?
    Prior to the McCarthy era?
    Prior to Reagan?
    Prior to the Palmer raids?
    Prior to the Alien and Sedition acts?

  4. 6

    Pete spews:

    I’m too young for the day to have any meaning – but for my entire life I’ve been hearing how nothing will ever compare to the shock of that day, etc., etc., and for that matter the ’60s as a whole being used as a reference point for everything since. But for anybody now under the age of about 55 JFK is a name in a history book, nothing more; and for the ’60s as a whole, anyone under 50. And while intellectually I understand the importance, with all due respect there’s also an emotional reaction, too, to the baby boomers who’ve dominated our cultural narrative for 40+ years now: get over it. And get over yourselves.

  5. 7

    spews:

    6. Pete spews:

    I’m too young for the day to have any meaning – but for my entire life I’ve been hearing how nothing will ever compare to the shock of that day, etc., etc., and for that matter the ’60s as a whole being used as a reference point for everything since. But for anybody now under the age of about 55 JFK is a name in a history book, nothing more; and for the ’60s as a whole, anyone under 50. And while intellectually I understand the importance, with all due respect there’s also an emotional reaction, too, to the baby boomers who’ve dominated our cultural narrative for 40+ years now: get over it. And get over yourselves.

    11/22/2011 at 12:18 pm

    So can you expand please?

  6. 8

    Blue John spews:

    It says a lot about just how much the country has changed in the last 50 years. I doubt many Republicans would have that same reaction if (God forbid) the same thing happened to Obama.

    Yup. they booed the First Lady.

    to put this in perspective.

    During a London concert ten days before the 2003 invasion of Iraq, lead vocalist Maines said “we don’t want this war, this violence, and we’re ashamed that the President of the United States (George W. Bush) is from Texas”. The incident negatively affected their career and led to accusations of the three women being “un-American”, as well as hate mail, death threats, and the public destruction of their albums in protest.

    And yet the same people booed the First Lady and there was no backlash.
    Why do you think that is?

  7. 9

    Blue John spews:

    Yeah, I agree with Pete. I’m 48. I don’t have the same emotional attachment you older folk do.

  8. 10

    Zotz sez: High tonite. Low tomorrow. Precipitation is expected. spews:

    JFK, then RFK and MLK. The country has never been the same.

  9. 11

    Blue John spews:

    What do you think the backlash will be against the baby boomers and the baby boomer ideology will be when they finally loose power and the next generations finally pull control from them.

    I, for one, will be glad to relegate the Who, Led Zeppelin and Classic Rock to the dustbin of history right up there with polka.

  10. 12

    Michael spews:

    @6,7

    It happened. It was a cultural marker and turning point. But, there have been plenty of other cultural markers and turning points since then. It was, maybe, the biggest marker for people of your age group, but there’s plenty of other folks on the planet.

    For many of us non-baby boomers (I was born in ’68 to parents who were born in the mid ’30′s), this clinging to “the sixties” and measuring everything that’s happened since then by what’s often a rather nostalgic and historically inaccurate view of the time period can be a little nauseating.

    **************************************************

    N,

    Sorry to rain on your parade. It’s a good post and I’ve enjoyed reading your posts on here. The above should be taken as a general comment and not one directed directly at your post.

  11. 13

    spews:

    @6:

    Hey Pete, it’s not our fault that neither Gen X nor the Millenials has come up with a cultural milieu than can compete with the ethos of the Baby Boomers.

    Not that this memorial post was an attempt to one-up anyone. Thanks to Michael @12 for taking the post in the spirit with which it was offered.

  12. 15

    rhp6033 spews:

    I was six, we got out of school a bit earlier than the other grades, so I met my sister at the bus stop and she got off the bus crying. That was the first we heard of the asassination, we didn’t usually have TV or radio on in our house in the afternoons.

    My father was visably stunned and somber when he came home from work. He wasn’t a JFK supporters, he even voted for Goldwater in the ’64 election (my mother voted for LBJ). But as the weeks and months drug on, he had an underlying anger that someone – it wasn’t quite clear who – had taken away from us our choice as to who was going to lead our nation. He bought a copy of the Warren Report as soon as it was published, I read it in the early 1970′s and still have it on my bookshelf.

  13. 16

    spews:

    I’ve got news for you ‘youngsters’: Obama is a baby boomer and so is the 50 year old who doesn’t remember the 60′s and has no emotional attachment to the decade in which he spent his childhood.

    I was born in the 50′s, but because much of the content of early TV was movies from the 30′s and 40′s, I do have an emotional attachment to those times as well.

    We do live in an era, though, where a press secretary for a president (Ms. MILF Perrino)could say, without much backlash, that the reason she did not know about the Bay of Pigs was that it happened before she was born.

  14. 17

    Michael spews:

    @13

    Hey Pete, it’s not our fault that neither Gen X nor the Millenials has come up with a cultural milieu than can compete with the ethos of the Baby Boomers.

    Is it the ethos or the sheer size of the boomer generation and level of control on the levers of power that you folks have that’s the issue? “The 60′s” ended somewhere between the ’72 presidential election and the end of the VietNam War in April of ’75. If the The Boomers and The ’60 were so transformational, what have you folks done since then? Moving to the the suburbs and getting jobs in finance and insurance doesn’t seem real in keeping with the ethos of the 60′s.

  15. 18

    Michael spews:

    Funny thing, back in high school in the mid-80′s a couple of friends of mine and I figured out how we could figure out which of our classmates had boomer parents and which did not. I can’t remember what criteria we used, but I remember it was both fairly simple and fairly accurate.

  16. 20

    spews:

    re 17: Selling single payer health insurance is a sale that we couldn’t pull off. However, you can thank the ethos of the 60′s for things like the plethora of farmer’s markets we now have, grocery stores like PCC, organic food products, pushing alternative energy sources, and many other positive accomplishments.

    The youth of the 60′s who connected the most quickly with the conservative powers that be of the 60′s were the Karl Roves and Dick Cheney types who have had a far greater impact on the world (in a negative way) than the so-called New Left Hippies have so far had. The Democratic Party was in no way eager to embrace the left leaning youth of the 60′s than the Republicans.

    We have been a voice crying in the wilderness for at least 2 generations.

  17. 21

    spews:

    Gen X and Gen Y cannot claim to be the inspiration for OWS. You guys are so lame, you will limp through history and never make it much past the starting gate.

    In 500 years the music and events of the 60′s will be as a shining city on a hill — a beacon of freedom and resistance to war and tyrany — a hill no where near Philidelphia, Mississippi.

  18. 22

    Partyin' Hard spews:

    To #8: The booing of Michelle Obama was despicable. To their credit, I can’t remember an incidence of liberals treating Laura Bush with such disrespect.

    However…

    First Ladies of recent Democratic Presidents seem to have immersed themselves in politics a bit more than their Republican counterparts (with the possible exception of Nancy Reagan). I think that explains some of the disrespect, but it certainly does not excuse it.

  19. 23

    Michael spews:

    @20

    The number of farms, farmers, and farmers that sell their products locally and directly to the public as well as the overall amount of cropland in the USA has gone down quite dramatically since the 60′s.

    Yes, boomers are involved in the growth of farmers markets, but I don’t think you can tie it directly to the ethos of the 60′s. You could just as easily tie it to the DIY ethic of punk rock*. Most of the “all-stars” of the farmers market folks non-boomers: Jenna Wogenrich, Jamie Oliver, Novel Carpenter and what not.

    Plus, rural folks have been getting kicked in the teeth for the last 40 years.

    http://tinyurl.com/795evhd

    *Punk bridges the gap between the younger boomers and the Gen-X folks.

  20. 24

    No time for Oligarchies spews:

    Hey Pete, it’s not our fault that neither Gen X nor the Millenials has come up with a cultural milieu than can compete with the ethos of the Baby Boomers.
    How can they? The boomers have such a hold on the culture than nothing else can get through.

    Is it the ethos or the sheer size of the boomer generation and level of control on the levers of power that you folks have that’s the issue?
    Yes.

    If the The Boomers and The ‘60 were so transformational, what have you folks done since then? .
    The teenagers of the 1960 were the “greed is good” crowd of the 90s and the teabaggers of now.

    The people from the 1960s were going to change the world, and they did, to what we have today.

    And the 99% are rebelling against them.

  21. 25

    Joe stegner spews:

    Where was I 48 years ago? I was in Chief’s quarters, polishing brass and waiting to be discharged from active duty. The announcement was made over the radio. I could not believe what was reported. I thought that this sort of thing happens in banana republics.

  22. 26

    spews:

    22. Partyin’ Hard spews:

    First Ladies of recent Democratic Presidents seem to have immersed themselves in politics a bit more than their Republican counterparts (with the possible exception of Nancy Reagan). I think that explains some of the disrespect, but it certainly does not excuse it.

    11/22/2011 at 1:46 pm

    Can you please give some examples? Thanks.

  23. 27

    Michael spews:

    Btw, the name Gen-X was thought up by boomers and is completely stupid. We really need to fix that. Generation X was the name Billy Idol’s first band, not the name for a generation.

  24. 28

    spews:

    re 23: ‘Do you have the time, to listen to me whine?’ Billie Joe

    Even post-punk — uhhhhhhhhhhhhhh glam-punks. Were the New York Dolls a bridge between the generations?

  25. 29

    Blue John spews:

    First Ladies of recent Democratic Presidents seem to have immersed themselves in politics a bit more than their Republican counterparts. I think that explains some of the disrespect, but it certainly does not excuse it.
    B.S. By your logic, since the President of the United States is a very political position, you would be forgiving of people very loudly booing him.

    No, what explains their total disrespect of the office that they justify and tolerate, is because she’s black and she’s a Democrat, and you know it.

  26. 31

    Partyin' Hard spews:

    To #17: I think it’s more a matter of the sheer size of the boomer generation than any other factor. With so many people sharing the same memories, I think they’ve gained perceived significance over the years.

    I do have to say I agree with Pete at #6 to some extent… My generation (the generation after the boomers) has been forced into the shadow of boomers our whole lives. Our generation has its own cultural significance, but it tends to be mocked and belittled by the “mighty baby boomers”.

    Each generation is entitled to have its own time in the sun, but the boomers seem intent on staying in the spotlight for as long as they possibly can. It’s time to let pass the baton, folks.

    (As Michael said, this is in no way intended as a slight to the author of this article, which I enjoyed very much.)

  27. 32

    Steve spews:

    “this clinging to “the sixties” and measuring everything that’s happened since then by what’s often a rather nostalgic and historically inaccurate view of the time period can be a little nauseating.”

    But if you were of the age of some of us here, I was twelve at the time, there was a “before” and there was an “after”. The world and our lives changed. Perhaps some cling to the sixties, but I’d say that most don’t. But I’m certain the vast majority of us all know where we were that day and recall that very moment when we heard the news. I believe that to never forget a moment that forever changed one’s life does not necessarily mean one clings to that memory. It was real. It really happened. And what unfolded afterwards really happened. I mean, really, those who would choose to forget or, worse, to revise history might be the ones I would find disturbing.

    Eh, I can see how one might have had to be around at the time, perhaps being young and impressionable as well, in order to appreciate the impact. It’s no different for you than it was with us and Pearl Harbor.

  28. 33

    spews:

    re 24: Much to my chagrin, I have to agree to what you are saying. The ‘dunderhead factor’ was clearly underestimated. And supplying the dunderheads with potent hallucinagens seems to have redounded like a led zep through the ensuing decades.

  29. 34

    spews:

    re 32: You are old enough to remember Pearl Harbor? You sure don’t sound or think like a geezer.

    I should talk. Before too many years are out, I’ll be spreading my geezer wings to fly into the vast unknown — maybe to meet with JFK — who might share some of that medical grade speed and Havana cigars he used to such great effect.

  30. 35

    Steve spews:

    @11 “I, for one, will be glad to relegate the Who, Led Zeppelin and Classic Rock to the dustbin of history right up there with polka.”

    I wouldn’t tell these guys that. They look like they might take those as fighting words. And they do look like they could kick some ass.

    http://www.smilinscandinavians.com/about.html

  31. 36

    spews:

    re 31: ‘Each generation is entitled to have its own time in the sun, but the boomers seem intent on staying in the spotlight for as long as they possibly can. It’s time to let pass the baton, folks.”

    To quote the renowned 70′s philosopher, Dick Cavett: I’ll be the judge of that! You’ll get the baton the same way I pried the gun out of Charlton Heston’s fingers.

  32. 37

    Steve spews:

    @34 No, I’m not that old. As kids, a lot of us heard from our elders how the news of Pearl Harbor was unforgettable and forever life changing. We boomers obviously weren’t around for that one and we could never really share that with them. When our President was murdered and we first heard of it, for the first time in our young lives we probably had an inkling of what they were talking about.

  33. 38

    rhp6033 spews:

    Sometimes I have discussions with my kids (now in their 20′s) about the music of my generation. They simply don’t understand some of it. For example, my son doesn’t understand Janis Joplin (“she’s just screaming, Dad”). My daughter doesn’t understand The Beatles (It’s boring, Dad”. My son thought I was inflcting illegal torture techniques upon him when I insisted on listening to the entire Arlo Guthrie’s “Alice’s Restaurant & Masacree” during a drive one Thanksgiving evening.

    What I have to explain to them, is that you have to place it in the proper context. The Beatles were so popular, even beyond their original teeny-bopper years, because they were so different from what came before them. As other musicians begin copying and incorporating their sound into their own music, they kept evolving so that each album was a leap beyond what had come before it.

    Similarly, by the mid-1960′s the artists who controlled the airways – Frank Sinatra, Perry Cumo, Dean Martin, etc. – were still very talented, but were clearly just going through the mostions when they sang. There was no emotion or energy left. Janis Joplin stripped her performance down until it was pure emotional energy, so different from what we were used to at the time.

    Arlo Guthrie was a bit different – coming from a folk-music background his music wasn’t that different from what came before. But he attached that music to a social-political era. Everyone identified with dealing with small-town conservative police officers, as well as the draft, which made “Alice’s Restaurant” a 20-minute screed which quite a few in my school memorized word-for-word, and would recite at any opportunity.

    Which gets us back to JFK. Kennedy was the first of the WWII veterans to take office (Eisenhower didn’t really count due to his age), and a lot was expected of him. After years of depression, two wars, and twelve years of red-hunting pograms in the U.S., he offered the young people a vision of a world beyond those limitations. He took our own words – freedom, equality, justice – and put them in force not just as anti-communist propoganda phrases, but as a real agenda both at home and abroad. The contrast with what came before was what made the vision so extraordinary that even the youngest among us could capture it’s essence. We are still, in our own ways, trying to achieve that vision.

  34. 39

    rhp6033 spews:

    # 11: “I, for one, will be glad to relegate the Who, Led Zeppelin and Classic Rock to the dustbin of history right up there with polka.”

    It’s not going to happen, for quite a while. The current generation of teenagers and early 20′s folks are embracing Classic Rock. Many are doing it accidentally, having heard the music and liked it, without knowing it’s origin.

    The Who has picked up a big following all over again, due to it’s exposure on CSI and CSI Miami.

  35. 40

    Politically Incorrect spews:

    @39,

    One of the rare occassions on which we agree, rhp6033. I’m seeing kids in their teens and early twenties “discovering” Jimi Hendrix, Cream, and other icons of the late Sixties and early Seventies. People will be listening to the Rolling Stones 100 years from now.

  36. 41

    rhp6033 spews:

    # 40: Yep, I’ve mentioned before, my daughter once came home from a Dave Mathews concert, and was ecstatic about some new song she heard, something about a “watchtower”.

    My friend at I were sitting at the table, looked at each other. He said, “Jimi Hendrix, 1968″. I said “Yea, but written by Bob Dylan, an year or two before that”. She didn’t believe us at first, it took some convincing on our part.

  37. 42

    Steve spews:

    “Similarly, by the mid-1960’s the artists who controlled the airways – Frank Sinatra, Perry Cumo, Dean Martin, etc. – were still very talented, but were clearly just going through the mostions when they sang. There was no emotion or energy left.”

    Geez, RHP, how could you possibly be so wrong? These guys each topped the charts in the years after the Beatles came out because they were just going through the motions and their music was emotionless and without energy? Do you really you believe that?

    “The bluest shies I’ve ever seen..”

    “Goin’ back to Houston, Houston, Houston.”

    “That’s life…”

  38. 43

    Michael spews:

    I think Steve @32 really puts things into proper perspective. And anyway, at the end of the day all of us, regardless of generation, have to work together to kick righty butt.

    As for The Who and such, I’m not a huge fan of classic rock. But I am a huge fan of bands who took classic rock and ran with it. People like Sleater-Kinney, The Hold Steady, The Magic Numbers & The White Stripes.

    We all build on what came before us. except maybe the modernist architects and their buildings fucking suck.

  39. 44

    Steve spews:

    I was big into the Beatles, the Cream and Hendrix. I was big into funk. But I always had the deepest appreciation for Frank, Judy, Tony, and all the rest of the great song stylists. Each of them deserved revelance in our time and received it.

  40. 45

    Michael spews:

    I can see how one might have had to be around at the time, perhaps being young and impressionable as well, in order to appreciate the impact. It’s no different for you than it was with us and Pearl Harbor.

    Lot’s of folks in their early 40′s remember where they where when they heard Reagan “joking” about nuking the Soviet Union. A lot more people were worried about their jeans and hair, but for a lot of us that was a point where we realized that the “grownups” could completely fuck up our world and that we had to start paying attention to what was going on out in the real world.

    Growing up a stones throw from the Trident Subs at Bangor, it was doubly powerful for me and my friends. We knew that a nuke going off somewhere in the world meant that we’d be turned to vapor shortly afterwards. That’s pretty powerful shit for a 14 year old to have to deal with.

  41. 46

    spews:

    re 42: The Rat Packsters hung on, but guys like Bobby Rydell and Eddie Fisher were toast.

    Speaking of the Rat Pack, I went to see a Sammy Davis Jr concert and was blown away by the power of the Big Band sound, and the hours of entertainment that SDj was able to produce from singing, dancing, comedy, and quick draw gun tricks. The guy was phenomenal — and it’s generally not remembered that he was as good at stand up comedy as he was at all the other stuff.

  42. 47

    Michael spews:

    @44
    I skip though Beatles stuff just listening to the John Lennon songs. Paul M. kinda makes me want to hurl.

  43. 48

    Steve spews:

    @46 The rock and roll of the fifties was killed off and what followed was sanitized fluff. It’s hard to describe just how bland music had become by the early sixties. When I think of the blandness of those years, I usually recall the likes of Pat Boone.

  44. 49

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Nov. 22, 1963, marked the end of innocence for Baby Boomers. It’s been downhill ever since.

  45. 50

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @31 “It’s time to let pass the baton, folks.”

    The hell you say. Most of us worked hard all our lives to get where we are now, and we’re not about to give up what we worked so hard for.

  46. 51

    rhp6033 spews:

    # 42, 44: I appreciate the “rat pack’s talents, but they never really became part of my “soul”.

    I heard one expert on the radio one night as I was commuting home from work. I didn’t catch his name. He said that our musical tastes are set sometime in our early teen years (10, 11, 12) until the age of 20 or so. The groups or songs may change, but the type of rythm and basic composition has to follow the original format. It’s rare for a person after that age to take on a fundamentally different music taste. One may appreciate different music formats, but they never reach into the soul the way that musical tastes acquired during those formative years does.

  47. 52

    rhp6033 spews:

    Michael @ 44: I once listened to a long holiday weekend composed of back-to-back Beetles songs played on the radio. I realized at the time that the Beatles got away with putting a lot of junk on albums, along with a few of the well-known hits.

    There were exceptions, of course. “Help”, “Sgt. Pepper”, and the Beetle’s final album consisted mostly of keepers. “Revolver” was kind of hit-and-miss for me.

  48. 54

    rhp6033 spews:

    # 46: Yes, Sammy Davis Jr. was one of a kind, a multi-talented artist.

    I remember that when he was seriously hurt in an accident, the hospital wasn’t going to treat him because he was black – they were going to pack him off down the street to another hospital. That’s when Sinatra and Martin showed up and insisted that he WAS going to be treated, and they had better do it right.

    Considering Sinatra’s rumored Mafia ties, and that this all occured in Las Vegas, I suspect that his insistence carried considerable weight.

  49. 57

    spews:

    re 54: Really? I heard that Buddy Hackett drove him to a Jewish hospital where they treated him and Sammy decided to convert to Judaism.

    Since he had lost one eye, the effort to learn a language (Hebrew) that was read ‘backwards’ allowed him to develop new skills for tracking objects with just one eye — an essential skill for a dancer.

    Just kidding….

  50. 58

    Steve spews:

    @52 I have a Beatles CD called “One” that has 27 #1 hit songs on it. Use the Google and take a look at the song list. Take a look at their body of work. A lot of junk? Exceptions? Please tell, RHP, what on earth are you talking about?

  51. 60

    Partyin' Hard spews:

    B.S. By your logic, since the President of the United States is a very political position, you would be forgiving of people very loudly booing him.

    You’re twisting my words, my friend. I feel like I properly denounced their actions when I called them “despicable”. I was merely offering a possible explanation for their behavior, and went on to say that their actions were inexcusable, regardless of the explanation.

    Why is it so difficult to offer an explanation for somebody’s actions without being accused of defending them?

  52. 62

    spews:

    Seriously (or, not so seriously) SDj was an entertainer who spanned a few generations. Who could forget his portrayal of Judge Ruby Begonia on Laugh In or his most excellent rendition of Jerry Jeff Walker’s Mr. Bojamgles.

    In today’s parlance, SDj was Bouncin’…

  53. 63

    spews:

    Abbey Road is one of the greats as well. I still get a laugh out of Maxwell’s Silver Hammer. ‘As the words are leaving his lips, a noise comes from behind.’

  54. 64

    Partyin' Hard spews:

    To #36 & #50: I’m not looking to put your generation in a home or anything. I don’t even want to force you into retirement or out of politics or anything like that. I’d just like you to pass the “cultural baton”, so to speak. I feel like I’ve been reliving your glory days my entire life.

  55. 65

    spews:

    re 64: You have to take the torch. No one’s going to hand it to you. This is a lesson every generation must learn.

    The OWS people have — and look how they outshined all those teabaggin’ old frauds from the 60′s.

  56. 66

    Michael spews:

    You have to take the torch

    The millennials seem to be taking the torch upside the head right now and it’s the peace and love generation giving the orders to swing the batons…

  57. 67

    spews:

    Random thoughts…

    a) There’s a reason it’s called “classic” rock.

    b) Just as my contemporaries could always break the ice with old folks by asking them about Pearl Harbor (or FDR’s death), those younger than us can always ask us about JFK. That was one of my purposes in writing this post.

    c) I don’t buy the “so many of you” argument. It only took one Dylan, one Beatles, one Jimi to wrench music into their new context. If someone came along with that great a transformative talent, the music would be similarly wrenched. It hasn’t happened yet.

    d) “Greed is good” may have been uttered by a Boomer, but it was the Reagan-addled Gen Xers who responded to the call of the Gekko. I, for one, found that movie repugnant. Even though Michael Douglas shares my birthday (not birthyear).

    e) One important component of the effect of JFK’s assassination is that he was so young. Not only the first President born in the 20th century, but younger than many of those who followed him. Kennedy was born in 1917, so Johnson (1908), Nixon (1913), Ford (1913), and Reagan (1911) were already here when he was born. Among the next five Presidents, only Carter (1924) was born after JFK. He was 27 years younger than Ike, and the contrast between their approaches seemed far greater than that.

  58. 68

    rhp6033 spews:

    # 58: I won’t challenge that they had at least 27, or 30, or 35 or more great songs. I don’t remember the names of the ones I considered “junk” at the time, I just waited until they ended so we could get to the next song.

    But they did a lot better in this respect than most groups.

    Phil Spectre was an opponant of albums, he thought they were a marketing ploy to take one or two hits, usually sold on a 45, and sell them again with for a lot more money on a 33-1/3 LP, surrounded by a lot of stuff which should have been rejected.

    That was before the “concept album”, which Spectre rejected out of hand without considering it. The Who, Pink Floyd, etc. did very well with concept albums. And as I said before, some of the Beatles’ albums could stand on their own as a leap from one generation of music to another. When those albums came out, they had the same effect as “Star Wars” had on science fiction movies in the mid-1970′s. Everything before it was paled in comparison, and everything in progress at that point had to start over again from scratch.

  59. 69

    rhp6033 spews:

    In the 70′s, Sammy Davis Jr. used to get a big laugh for saying he was trying to get every affirmative action program available by being black, Jewish, and one-eyed. He also quiped that he was was probably the only one-eyed Jewish black guy in the Republican Party.

    What I liked best about him is how someone could tell a joke about him and he would be rolling on the floor, laughing at it. He didn’t mind being the butt of a joke, as long as it was a good one.

  60. 70

    Partyin' Hard spews:

    It only took one Dylan, one Beatles, one Jimi to wrench music into their new context. If someone came along with that great a transformative talent, the music would be similarly wrenched. It hasn’t happened yet.

    Are you implying that Dylan, Hendrix and the Beatles were the most recent artists to truly transform music? It pains me to even use this as an example, but what about rap? You may say that isn’t a valid example because “rap isn’t music” (a sentiment I tend to agree with), but isn’t that the same thing your big-band-listening parents said to you the first time they heard rock?

    To say there hasn’t been a significant transformation in music since the 60’s is just false. It may not be “transformative music” to us (or even definable as “music” for that matter), but it is to our children and/or grandchildren. And denying that just goes to show the arrogance of the boomer generation as a whole.

  61. 71

    Partyin' Hard spews:

    To #27: What is the precise definition of “Generation X” anyway? I’ve been hit with the Gen X label, but I’m pretty sure my kids fall into that category, too. It always seemed to be a little ill-defined…

  62. 72

    spews:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Generation_X

    Generation X, commonly abbreviated to Gen X, is the generation born after the Western post–World War II baby boom ended.[1] While there is no universally agreed upon time frame,[2] the term generally includes people born from 1965 through the early ’80s, usually no later than 1981 or 1982.[3][4][5][6][7] The term had also been used in different times and places for various subcultures or countercultures since the 1950s.[8]

    You’re welcome.

  63. 73

    Tom Fitzpatrick spews:

    I think a lot of the terminology/definitions of generations comes from this book:

    Strauss, William & Howe, Neil. Generations: The History of America’s Future, 1584 to 2069

    Interesting theory of US history; takes an idea and maybe pushes it a bit too far. I was 17 when JFK was murdered, and yes I remember exactly where I was and how the news was delivered over our high school PA system.

  64. 74

    spews:

    We didn’t name ourselves as baby boomers, hippies, yippies or yuppies. That was the ‘best generation ever’that did that to us.

    Generation X or Y came about because Boomers liked the grey, faceless menacing look and sound of it. It’s a compliment. Like a spider tattoo or an expensive Wilson leather jacket. Wear it with pride.

    Now shut up and grab the fucking baton. No No NO — You run forward, not backwards.

  65. 75

    Liberal Scientist thinks that concentrated power and wealth should be met with suspicion, not adoration spews:

    My older son, now 15 and a half (driving lessons!!!) said to me a couple of years ago, soon after he started his guitar lessons, in all earnestness and with the blush of a new discovery that no one had made before…

    “Dad, have you ever heard of Jimmy Page? He ROCKS! Listen to this…”

    I felt I had succeeded as a parent.

  66. 76

    Liberal Scientist thinks that concentrated power and wealth should be met with suspicion, not adoration spews:

    I was born almost a year after the assassination and obviously have no memory of it.

    I think what we’re all talking about here is dynamism of the culture and society, and the role of idealism.
    How much are we going to allow young people, the truly idealistic, to influence the direction of the culture?

    I remember my college years (1983-1987) as horrible on the broader national front – Reaganism, greed, militarism, anti-unionism, anti-feminism, but deeply growth-centered and idealistic personally and within my circle of friends. It’s what I learned and internalized then that I measure the world by now – social justice, feminism, environmentalism. We very much embraced the ethos of the 60′s and the label ‘hippie’.

    I think a great deal of effort has been spent trying to extinguish these ideals by the status quo. I remember a significant existential struggle within myself back then – do what is good for my wallet, or what was good for the world? Do college kids still do that?

    Part of what fueled our exploration of new and different ways of seeing the world back in college was a great deal of psychedelics – and this coming in the midst of Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No” drivel. I think both the breaking of rules inherent in dropping acid or ecstasy, and the experience itself, is deeply liberating, and provokes critical examination of all sorts of received wisdom – and orders from above. I think a real and necessary skepticism is nurtured with this sort of experience. And I note that succeeding generations, even kids getting to college as I was graduating, were inculcated in the “drugs are bad Bad BAD!!!” culture.

    I think this is emblematic of a larger, wider inhibition of thinking for oneself, or questioning the dominant paradigm, or refusing to accept the narrow, accepted pathways that are offered. We see it similarly reflected in the very constricted narratives presented by the corporate media, particularly with regard to politics and what are ‘acceptable’ policy options.

  67. 77

    Zotz sez: High tonite. Low tomorrow. Precipitation is expected. spews:

    My 24 y/o daughter is a major (w/o any prompting from dad) Beatles fan. She heard Sgt Peppers and was hooked.

    Sorry, but everything since the late 60s, early 70s has been pretty much crap.

    Lib Sci is exactly correct about the impact of psychedelics as a force for transformation. Interestingly, even Steve Jobs cites LSD as a major influence.

  68. 78

    rhp6033 spews:

    76, 77: Well, we could write a book on the impact of various drugs on music, and not just the psychodelic drug scene in the mid-60′s.

    For example:

    Alchohol has it’s own effect on the nervous system, but I haven’t been able to figure out how that influenced music of the 30′s, 40′s, 50′s, and early 60′s. Maybe it’s because everybody acts differently when they are drunk.

    Psychodelic drugs encouraged a lot of experimentation starting in the mid-1960′s. It’s hard to imagine the “San Francisco Sound” without it.

    Pot certainly influenced a lot of music in the 60′s and 70′s. It promoted a tendency to sit back and passivly allow the music to waft over the listener. By the early half of the 1970′s it was Allman Bros, Frampton, etc. which dominated the album play lists. But to another generation (like my son), he just considers such music too boring. He figures you had to have been high at the time to appreciate it.

  69. 79

    Zotz sez: High tonite. Low tomorrow. Precipitation is expected. spews:

    He figures you had to have been high at the time to appreciate it.

    I can see how you’d think that about Frampton (schlock). But the Allmans? You’ve heard Live at Fillmore East, right? Layla (Allman and Clapton)?

    Drugs have always been part of the music scene. In the 40s and 50s it was alcohol, pot, amphetamines, and heroin (Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, Gene Krupa…). While they did influence the music, these drugs were mainly about “coping”.

    LSD (mescaline, psylocybin) is whole different matter. It wasn’t typical to play on LSD, though that happened. It wasn’t something that you did all the time (like other drugs). However, what you experienced and learned from acid opened “doors of perception”. It completely changed how you see the world and particularly yourself. A prime example:

    Sketches of Spain (Heroin)

    Bitches Brew (LSD)

  70. 80

    spews:

    78,79

    It’s really kind of weird to see my kids playing “guitar hero” to Frampton (Live), Don McLean (American Pie), early Steely Dan (Bohdisattva) and the like..

    Jimi Hendrix and the Beatles too – although to me that music is timeless. I’d be disappointed if they found that music “boring”…