LEST WE NOT QUITE REALLY REMEMBER…(Why I Need Rock and Roll, Session #9)

I was alive on November 22, 1963 but have no memory of it.

Never cared much about “Camelot” one way or another.

Always thought he handled the Bay of Pigs and the Missiles of October with about the same degree of political competence. PR is everything.

Don’t think he would have been quite as good on Civil Rights as Lyndon Johnson (though we’ll never know).

Don’t think he would have kept us out of Viet Nam (though we’ll never know).

Don’t think he would have been a better war leader than LBJ (though we’ll never know).

Don’t think all those preppie college kids would have ever found themselves ┬áchanting “JFK, JFK, how many kids did you kill today?” no matter how many kids he killed, even though “JFK” fits as well as the “LBJ” they did chant. (Though we’ll never know.)

Don’t think his death was the spur for Beatlemania. Always assumed the Beatles were the principal reason for Beatlemania. Though if you need another reason, the Civil Rights Movement and the concomitant Rise of Rock and Roll America and its burgeoning coalition of blacks, hillbillies and urban immigrants, was a far more realistic and existential threat to the Old Order than either Kennedy or the Kennedy Assassination. (Though, of course, we’ll never know).

Don’t think Oswald acted alone (though we’ll certainly never know).

I also don’t think the fiftieth anniversary of JFK’s assassination would resonate with anything like the same Lincolnian force if the assassination itself had happened in relative isolation after the manner of Garfield’s or McKinley’s (i.e., as a self-evident aberration of the sort that fill the course of human events.)

It did not happen in isolation, as exactly no one among the quite a lot of “someones” I saw or heard on television or radio today managed to say or even imply.

So, with the sun safely down, here’s Dion to remind us…singing “Abraham, Martin and John” as the straight blues it was perhaps always meant to be.




4 thoughts on “LEST WE NOT QUITE REALLY REMEMBER…(Why I Need Rock and Roll, Session #9)

  1. JFK handled the Cuban Missile crisis….. ‘tempered’…. by his war time experiences and his youthful idealism and therefore was able to resist a ….roomful of Generals and War-mongers…… who tried every moment, for several days straight, to persuade him to ‘Nuke’ the missiles on Cuban soil. He resisted their machinations and for that we owe him ……….our WORLD, even today! PR had nothing to do with the fact…. that he secretly communicated with Kruschev , promising to remove the missiles in Turkey….thus giving the Russian leader …..an out! This wisdom averted a nuclear ending to our world. In my eyes, that is his eternal…… LEGACY……As for his death spurring ‘Beatlemania’….it would have never occurred to me in a thousand years, and the very thought is puzzling to me……….but then aside from a few good songs, ‘Beatlemania’ will forever be puzzling to me! I will always believe that a very immature, and possibly emotionally unstable Marine, named Lee Harvey Oswald, stationed in Japan at a secret U2 base, in 1959, and who just happened to brag about his Marxists leanings and desire to speak Russian…….was subsequently recruited by the CIA there and defects to Russia! Then in 1962, was quietly allowed back into this country with a Russian wife , no questions asked, and the news media completely quiet about a man who was considered a traitor to defect to Russia in 1959! Then in 1963, he is recruited again by a rogue element of the CIA, who at this time hated Kennedy, over the Bay of Pigs, among other things, set Oswald up as their ‘patsy’ in Dallas. Of course, of these facts that I believe….. I will never know if true. I can say that I have been profoundly changed by the awful facts of Nov.22, 1963…….so was everyone else, who were old enough to see and understand the significance of his violent and arbitrary death. I trust no one in government this day…….especially the sad excuse for a US Congress…..we have placed in power, yet we do still plod on through, though, possessing a much more ‘violent prone’ mind-set….in our ‘gun-totting’, 2nd Amendment ways!! I doubt if President Kennedy would recognize this country today. I was 22yrs old on 11/22/63……I was never the same… idealistic and innocent thinking person ever……..after his violent death. JFK symbolized youthful, exuberant Idealism……never to be again…..and I suppose I and millions of others left behind in this country from that day, find it a bit difficult to ……”LET IT BE’!

  2. Great thoughts Clementine. I don’t think we should let it be by any means. I was disappointed that the media took the occasion to basically mock those of us (like you and me) who think the evidence that Oswald was either part of a conspiracy or a patsy to be strong if not overwhelming. It felt like the entire day was basically a whitewash of the Warren Commission.

    I was also disappointed at the absence of context. However shocking and traumatic the assassination was, I don’t think the memory would have as much force today if it hadn’t been followed by so much else (including more assassinations, none of which I heard a word about the entire day)…I think we might have recovered from JFK’s death and remained (as you say) a country he would recognize, if a lot of other things had been handled better…And whether JFK himself (who I mostly do admire incidentally, politically at least), would have actually handled things like Viet Nam, inner city rioting, etc. better than Johnson did is the question that haunts all of us. I think it’s natural to assume he would have…but I’m just not convinced….I think Dion’s song is still the best testament to the tumultuous depths of the cataclysm and this is the best version I’ve ever heard him sing (though I could have done without the heavy-handed backing chorus).

    (Just as an aside: I don’t think any president could have been better on Civil Rights than Johnson was, and that was hugely important–but the rest of his presidency left a lot to be desired….I also think his good-old-boy southern roots and demeanor really hurt him with the younger generation, though, as I say, we’ll never know.)

    On the equivalence of the Bay of Pigs and the Cuban Missile Crisis: I thought JFK handled both just fine, especially since the Pentagon was clearly trying to submarine him both times. But one is counted a fiasco and the other a triumph, that’s what I meant by the power of PR.

    On Beatlemania–that’s just a standard trope of the standard Narrative of Rock Criticism (we were recovering from the trauma!). If you’ve avoided reading about it count yourself lucky! It’s always made me grind my teeth.

    …But, hey, we’re both Elvis people. I like the Beatles better than you do, but we know who really “shook things up!” (lol)

  3. Johnny, enjoyed reading your reply and explaining the Beatlemania thing……which I did apparently miss! I respect the Beatles talent…..especially their song-writing abilities! I realize that you are at the very least a generation behind me….of my childrens’ generation and know that the Beatles are special for most of your brethren! Also, agree with your assessment of both the media, then and now…..along with JFK’s & LBJ’s performances. You are prescient to notice the media …….of today, missing the chance to show more balance with the conspiracy theories……and the findings of the Warren Commission. I believe because of the personal experiences of so many of the still active newsmen…..they were focused more on the event, because they were THERE! ……and not the important consequences as the assassination receded into history. TYVM for your input on this historical day in our history.

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