Friday, January 16, 2015


My first reaction to this was a sense of Boomer embarrassment:
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry paid respect in both English and French on Friday to the victims of last week's terrorist attacks in Paris in a show of American solidarity with the French people....

"I represent a nation grateful each day that France is our oldest ally," he said before introducing his friend, musician James Taylor, who performed his hit "You've Got a Friend," starting with several bars of the French national anthem.....

It seemed like something Malia and Sasha should have prevented with an eyeroll. Dad music? Seriously? Eeeeuuuwww!

Saying that on Twitter got me into a Raw Story roundup of right-wingers casting aspersions on the administration. But my objections were really aesthetic -- I'm a 55-year-old white guy, old enough to remember when this song was a hit; I was a seventh-grade softy at the time who liked mellow music more than was good for me. Now I have a love-hate relationship with it.

My instinct was to mock, but clearly the song was met with a considerable amount of applause. (Taylor, as Raw Story notes, was made a Chevalier del'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government in 2010.) And if this seemed to some (and, initially, to me) like an inappropriate, tone-deaf American response for a country that's just suffered through days of unsettling violence, well, recall that a key moment during the solidarity rally in Paris happened when a resident played John Lennon's "Imagine" out an apartment window, inspiring a spontaneous singalong.

I remember when songs like thia were on the charts. It was the time of Cambodia, Kent State, Altamont ... I was just a kid, but there was clearly a sense that the 1960s had unleashed some furies. (Everyone's immediate assumption on first hearing Taylor's "Fire and Rain" was that Suzanne had died of a drug overdose.) Some people wanted to listen to soft rock and secular hymns as an antidote to the craziness. And maybe a lot of French people feel the same way now.

The right is susceptible to this impulse as well. After 9/11, when we had a Republican president, there was a lot of chest-thumping country music, but there was also "Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning" by Alan Jackson, a country tearjerker about the attacks.

Right-wingers think a Republican president would never go soft with a war on, but a few years later, while the Iraq conflict was still raging, Alan Jackson wound up in a White House-produced Christmas video starring the Bushes' dogs. Tony Blair also had a cameo.

Oh, and on a related matter, remember Jake Tapper's harrumphy assertion that President Obama should have gone to the Paris march because of how the French responded to 9/11?
You also have to look at the fact of, who was the first world leader to come to the United States after the trauma in 2001 who was it? The President of France, Jacques Chirac came to Washington D.C. and New York right after 9/11, within a week and a half or so. I don’t think that’s a mistake.
Well, as Tapper's current employer reported at the time:
Chirac's visit was scheduled well in advance of the terrorist attacks....
Just wanted to note that for the record.


Never Ben Better said...

Tapper et al.: Never let the facts get in the way of another chance to bash the President.

Victor said...

Conservatives don't get this whole "music" thing.

They only kind they get, is the treacly patriotic dribble.

And even then, they don't get it when there's a another message in an otherwise patriotic-sounding song:
See, Bruce's "Born in the USA!"

Roger said...

You say Tapper, and I say Tosser.

I say Tosser, and you say Tapper.





Let's turn the wingnut off.

Ken_L said...

Sorry, I cringed when I first read about it and I'm still cringing. At least we can be grateful Kerry and Taylor didn't lead a crowd rendition of 'Kumbaya'.

The Obama mob seem to go out of their way sometimes to give conservatives material to mock.

Glennis said...

Right, Ken, because what we should really do when making a gesture to another nation that has suffered a trauma, is make sure it's palatable to our domestic political opposition, instead of thinking about what the recipient nation would appreciate.

Ken_L said...

Aunt Snow they are not mutually exclusive.