Friday, January 05, 2007
Ex-presidents and great soul legends. Is there a connection? I think so.
Have you ever thought about how different the life of a soul legend and President of the United States could be? Let's examine.
A soul legend - To be considered this, you must be an African-American at least 60 years of age and have lived in the U.S. during some of the worst times in its history. You have personally suffered harsh racism, had to be original, and had to fight to be noticed. Once noticed, you received respect and love from all who heard and saw you perform and became infused in the hearts and minds of the people who love your music and were changed forever by your contribution. The memories and emotions experienced through your songs will last for eternity by those who remember you.
An ex-president - To be considered this, you must be a Caucasian at least 60 years of age and have prospered in the U.S. during some of the worst times in its history. You have attended college and quite possibly an ivy-league one, worked hard and were able to achieve goals without hindrance from others. Once in politics, you were under the microscope of everyone you came in contact with because your job was to represent them. Scandals were found, your business exposed, not that you are worse than everyone else, it's just you chose politics. Once a president, you were involved in cotroversial decisions that could have changed for the better and at the same time possibly ruined the lives of the people you represented. You were the most powerful man in the world.
Which one of these people deserves more respect? Tough question.
Remember when Ray Charles died? Probably not because all of the news coverage was on Ronald Reagan's death and funeral. There is no guide in the media to how much coverage one's death should receive. People die every day. Important people die every day. But this man got 24/7 coverage on his death for days and days. Ray Charles became a footnote.
Now James Brown has died quickly followed by Gerald Ford. Some people openly regard Ford's presidency as a cakewalk, yet this man got plenty of serious coverage on TV as well. However, did you notice how James Brown funeral itself lasted for days with 3 different services? I personally believe that this was due to Ronald Reagan's amount of coverage. Al Sharpton and friends made sure the media got wind of the magnanimous celebration prepared for the homegoing of the Godfather of Soul. And, as important as James Brown is and was, who in musical history has received such a heroes' welcome? I think it's presidentially related.
I think people were so surprised by the amount of reverence over Ronald Reagan - so much of the controversy surrounding his presidency was ignored (Iran-Contra, Reaganomics, etc.). I think people were surprised so much so that when Rosa Parks died they had to give her a "presidential" send-off in order to save face. Not that she didn't deserve it, but like I said before, many important people die every day without this sort of response.
So, what's up with these soul legends dying the same time as ex-Presidents?
I don't know, but if I were Aretha Franklin, I'd be scared when President Bush senior dies.