No, not this commie crap going on now. The right revolution. The Reagan Revolution that gripped the nation starting around 1979. It was still a nation then, remember? A nation capable of being united, if only for a few years until the power mongers of both parties got the death grip on her throat that they still maintain today.
I remember very fondly where I was, so let me use this post as a light introduction of sorts, since Curmudgeon has graciously asked me to start contributing as a regular author on her blog, or at least as a part-time janitor and coffee wench. For which I’m grateful!
So I ask you to recall if you, like me, were relieved to wake to ‘Morning in America’ after the long night during which a President was assassinated, the Vietnam War was won and then lost, John Wayne realized that Joe McCarthy had been right but nobody cared, Journalistas forced everybody to worship at their endless Watergate orgy and Jimmuh’s fresh hell of stagflation and fake population and energy crises robbed us of hope.
What a breath of fresh humor and common sense and joy Reagan was for the kids coming of age during those years. It was bracing to be a youth unjaded but fully aware of the cancer of careless Marxism embraced by some of our parents and yet hopeful that we might soon be free of it. This was America. Finally.
And the music was pretty good! The British bands that had borrowed so much from the Mississippi Delta Blues helped stimulate a reinvigoration of American music that was stunning. If you looked beyond the pop music, the ground was rich and the waters were deep. I witnessed it from a strange place, though. Before college, I spent the years around ’79 working as a backcountry cowboy on a working ranch in remote parts of the Rocky Mountains.
The days were spent on the trail working, but the job let me move around a lot between staffed camps, ranch houses and mountain towns, and these were always full of music. The men and women in the backcountry always had strings within easy reach, whether guitars, banjos, fiddles or mandolins. Every once in a while I’d be bunking in a place with a decent piano – my instrument – but everyone had a voice, and they used it. On more than one occasion, we got to sit around a campfire with Michael Martin Murphey, who visited ranches all up and down the Rockies.
But it wasn’t all western music. This was the age of the cassette tape, and the young guys, including me, carried batteries and tape players far into the wilderness. Every night we listened while we were cooking and eating to the rock and blues of the time.
John Prine, Gerry Rafferty, Dylan, The Doors, The Stones, Zeppelin, Frankie Miller, Bob Seger, Skynyrd, Tull, Blind Faith, Stevie Ray, Johnny Cash, John Denver, Emmylou Harris, Winwood, Clapton, Dr. John and hundreds more. Whenever we had days off, we went into town to hear the talent in the bars. More often, since we were mostly under age, we’d sit perched in some canyon above town, drinking whiskey and beer and listening to the live music coming from below on weekend nights.
Those were good days. I think back to them often when the current political reality is too much to bear. But even today, the Reagan Revolution has not been forgotten, and his ghost looms even now over the Republican debates for the 2016 Presidential election. The R-word is still mentioned. Let us hope Ron’s mojo is still potent enough to influence our political philosophy for years to come.