Proud To Be An American

Today is the birthday of two men who mean a great deal to American, Louis Armstrong and Barak Obama. It’s a coincidence, but one with profound meaning. America was built, physically as well as culturally, by as much by African-Americans as by any other group and, in the area of musical culture, more by African-Americans than any other group. And of all the parts of America that have conquered the world, it’s popular music even more than Coke, Levis and McDonalds. That is the American Empire.

Now we have a President who looks like America has always been, and seeing what America actually looks like is, to paraphrase Hunter Thompson, turning the crazies pro and revealing their essential hatred for civilization in general and American in particular. There is a cure for that, and that’s the founder of American popular music, Pops. It all began with him, and he made it “safe” for whites to not be afraid of blacks. Since the paranoid style of American politics is rooted in deep fears, there’s no better bridge to peace and joy. Armstrong’s artistry and the essential beauty of his soul are so great that they can transcend material and situations that were even a little questionable 75 years ago. But, like Obama, he is American through and through, able to synthesize the astonishing mess of this country into enduring promise. To anyone who truly appreciates music, who listens with the innate understanding that it is the glue of civilization, he is irresistible. And to everyone who is truly a patriotic American, Armstrong is essential. Enjoy:


Author: gtra1n

I'm a composer and musician, and I write about music—I do that here, for the New York Classical Review, at the Brooklyn Rail (I edit the music section there) and any place else that will have me, like New Music Box and Music & Literature. I also wrote the Miles Davis' Bitches Brew book in the 33 1/3 series.

2 thoughts on “Proud To Be An American”

    1. Thanks for the link to The Crazy. I’ve been saying for years that the nexus if ignorance and ideology is insanity, and there it is.

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