Let me be a little more didactic than usual: as individuals and as a society, we can do a hell of a lot to prepare ourselves to deal with the world, other people, ideas and problems if we bothered to put a little money into arts education, especially music. Not every child taking music lessons is going to turn out to be a creative, or even professional, musician. But every person who applies themselves to the study of music is going to learn a sense of discipline, abstract thought, structured problem-solving and the skill and patience to listen to others, and this happens for any kid who sits in a music class and sings songs with all their friends – they don’t even have to join the choir.
And in this country, by singing songs they’ll learn a hell of a lot about what America really is and can be. I have pointed out in the past how music expresses historical truths about America which are ignored in public/media discussions. And this revelation, “Whose Country?“, from Andrew Sullivan offers proof of something else, that ignoring the music of America condemns one to ignorance of America itself. Studying and writing about politics, regardless of the prestige of the degree or the accepted media position of the publication, seems in practice to depend on a theoretical notion of behavior, culture and values which has nothing to do with how Americans actual behave, what they value and especially what American culture is. That’s how a relative late-comer like Pat Buchanan can think that America is a culture of white people and white ownership, which is as a matter of fact completely wrong. Except in politics. Culture is about how people live and eat and sweat and fuck and worship and dream, it’s the blues and jazz and classical and rock and murder ballads and dance tunes. Sullivan has discovered a bit of the truth, and it seems music helped him along. That’s great, shame it took so long.