Saturday, May 24, 2008

Reflections: Boomer Gold

I went to the public library this morning to return a book (Cion) and came home with Annie Leibovitz’s coffee table book, American Music. In addition to the expected genius photography of many of the icons of blues, gospel, bluegrass, country, rock, hip-hop and jazz, this book also contains short essays on the music and its cyclical inspiration written by the musicians themselves. The first such mini-essay is by Patti Smith, a singer-songwriter of my generation whose music never fails to totally eviscerate me when I can muster the guts to listen to it.

I am going to quote below one paragraph from Patti’s essay. This paragraph provides a snapshot, as if made with a pin-hole camera, of the shared experience of every post-WWII kid who came to self-consciousness in the 1950s:

It was difficult reconciling the images of Hiroshima with the image I had of our country. When I questioned my father, he would say, “I did my duty, but the rest is man’s inhumanity to man.” He seldom talked about the war, but on Memorial Day he served in the color guard, and after the parade and a prayer for fallen soldiers we would celebrate in the field surrounding the Veterans Hall. Our mothers served hot dogs and potato salad. Our father played horseshoes. When the sun went down, we gathered around a bonfire, roasting marshmallows and singing. We sang of the railroad, the Dust Bowl, and the Erie Canal. We sang “Heart of My Heart” and “Buddy, Can You Spare a Dime?” We sang about Jesus and Davy Crockett. It was the end of the fifties and everyone seemed happy.

Just in time for Memorial Day. Dig it.