THE MISSIONARIES ARE COMING…LET THE DEAD RISE! (Found In the Connection: Rattling Loose End #81)

Next week, or maybe the week after, I promise I’ll think Happy Thoughts.

For now:

So Hillary Clinton introduced her running mate, Tim Kaine, today and the walk-on music was Motown: “The Sound of Young America” circa 1967.

Superficially at least, It didn’t seem to matter which Motown. The point was to have a certain vibe, create happy thoughts which turned out to be in line with the candidate’s newest face (apparently adopted to bring her in line with Kaine, who is the happiest Wall Street Warrior I’ve ever seen) and present a true alternative to Donald Trump the Dark Lord of Chaos.

Yes, Ms. Clinton has now found the incarnation she intends to run on: Little Miss Sunshine.

So any of a hundred Motown hits with a happy beat might have served the moment.

Weird then, that somebody–surely not the candidate herself, at least not without focus grouping it to death–chose “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” and not Diana’s version (which, wearing its glittering angst plainly on the surface, would have been, like the record itself, a shade gauche) but Marvin and Tammi’s.

It’s not weird because it cast Clinton as an underdog, seeking to overcome impossible odds (“Ain’t no mountain high enough, ain’t no valley low enough”) against an opponent she has consistently led in the polls, is outspending thirty to one, and who has alienated the establishments of both parties. Nor is it weird because, if you wanted one single record in all the world to stand on the knife edge between ecstasy and despair, you would pick this one.

It’s not even weird because it was a song written by two fundamentally happy people (Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson) and made indelible by two fundamentally tormented people.

It’s the source of the torment that’s….challenging, even irreducible. It’s background opens up interesting questions.

Did whoever chose the song to represent an in-your-face “America will dominate the world and you will like it and you will keep that smile on your face” candidacy recognize the dark thread running through the record Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell made? Did they hear beneath a lyric and melody which, standing alone, should have defined only the sunniest of emotions? Did they have a sense of irony? And, if so, how deep does that sense go? Is it surface irony (hey there’s some darkness here, but listen to that beat soar…nobody will notice!), or a double irony (the rubes will know..but they’ll know we know…and listen to that beat soar!)?

Who knows.

But if this backfires–if the Clinton campaign, can’t sell the new “her” we’re supposed to be with through November–then it might be a sign that ghosts have not departed but instead hung around, seeking absolution or even vengeance.

It’s not enough to know that Tammi Terrell was gang-raped at eleven, endured horrifically abusive relationships as a young woman with, among others, James Brown and David Ruffin (reports that Ruffin attacked her with a hammer or a machete turned out to be untrue, but the relationship did end when he smacked her with a motorcycle helmet), collapsed in Gaye’s arms from the effects of a brain tumor in 1967, and, eight surgeries later, died in 1970.

And it’s not enough to know that Marvin Gaye’s friends were universally convinced that the cycle of drugs and depression which, in 1984, ended with his being shot and killed by his father (who was later diagnosed with a brain tumor as well), began with Terrell’s death (lovers they weren’t–soulmates they were).

No, the weird part is that we actually know how Little Miss Sunshine feels about little girls who get themselves raped:

I didn’t quite need this sort of evidence (into which one can read whatever one wants to read–just because there’s only one rational conclusion doesn’t mean we can’t all build our own different rationalities…she still really could be Little Miss Sunshine, you just gotta squint a little!) to know I’d never vote for her (not voting for the other guy either, if that matters). But, for the record, I found that link a few months back when I was looking for some reason, any reason, to like her at least a little.

But, however off-putting–or maybe chilling is the word I’m looking for–her willingness to go to extraordinary lengths to free a child-raper (whose victim has led a life Tammi Terrell would recognize), and then laugh about it, might be, it’s nothing next to her stunningly perfect imitation of a well-bred Southern woman, resigned to the acceptance of her own Grace. I’m an umpteenth-generation Southerner and I’ve known the type all my life. Until I heard this, I never believed anyone who wasn’t born to it or named Vivien Leigh could fool me into believing they were.

I’m therefore proposing that we dig up Tammi Terrell and Marvin Gaye and run them on the Unity ticket.

Hell. they might not be beautiful beyond belief any more, but I’d feel better voting for their unembalmed corpses than for anyone who’s on the ballet this time.

6 thoughts on “THE MISSIONARIES ARE COMING…LET THE DEAD RISE! (Found In the Connection: Rattling Loose End #81)

  1. I have a huge amount of celeb love for Tammi Terrell. She was lovely to look at and a mighty fine singer. The Gaye/Terrell duet “If I Could Build My Whole World Around You” is universally ignored by the oldies radio stations I’ve heard (in fact, I don’t know if I’ve ever heard it on the radio), but it is pure joy and bliss:

    As for Hillary Clinton, I didn’t listen to the whole link that you provided, but from what you wrote, I get the impression that she was able to get a child raper out of jail. Disgusting? Absolutely! But if she was the guy’s lawyer, that’s her job. Many defense lawyers represent innocent people, but the ones that have to (or choose to) defend the ones that are obviously guilty either drink a whole bottle of scotch every night to get to sleep, or have some sort of huge hole in their soul if it doesn’t bother them…especially if they can joke about it.

    Having said that, I’m still voting for her. Only because this election is truly choosing between the lesser of two evils, and while she will never wash whatever corruption she’s been involved with off her hands or soul, she is still very much the lesser of two evils. Yes, I do mean that Trump and most of what he stands for frightens me.

    I respect your position, and believe me, I understand, but if you’re thinking about voting third party or writing in Bernie, please reconsider. If Trump wins, the world will keep turning around, of course, but it also sends a message to the world that Americans are, as a majority, just as racist, self centered, and ignorant as he is.

    Actually, maybe we are. We’ll find out in a few months, won’t we?

    • Thanks for your thoughts Mac…I’m gonna have to be careful not to turn this into a political forum! Just for the record, I’ll never say who I actually vote for. Right now I can’t imagine voting for either and I won’t vote third party. If I can’t pick one, I’ll stay home. (Since, 1984, the last time I didn’t vote, I’ve voted on all sides, including third parties …and gotten exactly nothing for it. I still long for the day when my vote will mean something for an office above dogcatcher.) Things could change between now and November. I could see either person scaring me into voting for the other. But just to be clear (and I hope I made this clear in the post) I’m not advocating for anyone. I wouldn’t do that even if I had strong feelings one way or the other because I don’t want the blog to be about advocacy….

      That said, this post came about only because Hillary Clinton just began using “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” as a theme song and I thought it was especially inappropriate given her history of going to extraordinary lengths to get a child rapist off and then laughing about it in a taped interview years later. I doubt that she or anyone in her camp knows that Tammi Terrell (whose song she just chose) was gang-raped at eleven and that this event probably wrecked a number of lives. But I couldn’t let it pass when I knew the disconnect existed. (Incidentally, I found the Hillary tape a few months back when I was cruising around the net looking for reasons to like Hillary. As always, be careful what you wish for! I wasn’t planning to comment on it, or on Hillary at all, until this subterranean connection came up…the blog is about such connections, they just don’t often coincide with the third rail of topical politics.)

      And yes, lawyers sometimes have to defend evil people. But they aren’t required to view it as a laughing matter. That’s strictly a matter of character. I thought the tape said something worth noting about hers.

      Again, thanks for commenting. You guys are making me think, which is the whole point.

      And up Marvin and Tammi….especially the song you linked.

      • I apologize if I went too far down the political path. I usually avoid talking about politics unless I know the person really well.

        My main point was stating the obvious, which is to please think your decision through. You make it clear that you will, which is all anyone can ask. I guess I was sending that out to the American universe in general.

        • Hey, no apology needed. I don’t mind getting into politics here and there (though I usually keep it more general…Trump and Hillary make it hard some times!). I just don’t want to make a regular habit of it. I really appreciate you weighing in when I raise the subject though. That’s what the blog is for.. I didn’t set this thing up to be an echo chamber.

          And I will keep gnawing at it internally. I haven’t skipped a vote since 1984 so it will be hard to sit out. I’ll keep hoping a breath of fresh air blows in from somewhere!

    • Thanks for the link…Had someone else send it to me via email. This is a complicated version of “Calling it your job ol’ Hoss sure don’t make it right.” I have no doubt Ms. Clinton was doing her job, etc. Have no problem with that part.

      I can’t defend her seeing it as a fit subject for humor, though–even if she thought her client was innocent (which the tape reveals she clearly didn’t). Others don’t hear what I hear (and several have made that clear!) and that’s fair enough.

      But I can’t unhear it.

      FWIW: I have no love for either Trump or Clinton. But I also don’t “fear” either one. If the system is already broken then nothing either can do will save it. If it isn’t really broken–i.e. if this “choice” isn’t as bad as I think it is–then nothing either can do will break it. They aren’t those sort of figures.

      Culture dies first. Trumps and Clintons emerge after to pick over the spoils.

      I’ll look for a reason to vote right up to November 8. But given my gloomy assessment of where we are, I can’t see either of these candidates inspiring that sort of confidence.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.