Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Al Gore,"Soul Man"

If Al Gore had listened to me, we would not be in Iraq today. It's not that I didn't understand the significance of a campaign theme song when I attempted to submit it to him in the election of 2000, I just couldn't find anyone to take me seriously enough. See, I'm a Gore man; have been since 1988 when I was fortunate enough to join a multi-religious delegation from Tennessee to the state of Israel, led by then Senator Gore, and accompanied by Tipper and his children. It was supposed to be a cultural exchange program with a grand concert in Jerusalem with a cadre of Nashville acts like the Charlie Daniels Band and the Oak Ridge Boys. Living in Nashville, I went to the promoter and begged to musically represent Memphis on the show, but when turned down, I joined the tour group anyway. In the end, not enough people signed up to make it worthwhile to take planeloads of country bands to the Holy Land, so the only musicians in attendance were songwriter Dave Olney, gospel star Bobby Jones, and me. We ended up performing in the courtyard of the Laromme Hotel in Jerusalem for the delegation, the Gores and their staff, Ambassador Thomas Pickering, and Mayor Teddy Kollak. It was good the country stars stayed in Nashville. On the same night as our courtyard concert, Bob Dylan appeared in Jerusalem.

Even then, Gore suffered from the "stiff" syndrome, but I was able to notice that it usually happened just for the cameras. When Gore was at ease with his family, being a tourist like the rest of us while instructing his girls about the meaning of the sights we were witnessing, he was approachable and affable. When Gore was briefed by the Israeli Government on the then novel idea of "land for peace," he took time to board our different tour buses and use the driver's microphone to brief us on what he had learned. During that trip, observing Al Gore in both formal and informal moments, I came to believe that Gore was the ablest, brightest, and most sincere politician/candidate in Congress. That's why I tried to help with a song for the 2000 race.

Every political theme song from FDR's "Happy Days Are Here Again," to JFK's "High Hopes," have had one thing in common. They are instantly recognizable and beloved songs that are adaptable for lyrical changes to promote the candidate. It's no mean thing to get Frank Sinatra to record your campaign theme as JFK did, and who can listen to that Fleetwood Mac song any longer without first thinking of the Clintons? Since I had described myself as a "Gore Man," it was easy to transfer that lyric to the Sam & Dave soul classic, "Soul Man." I rewrote the whole song, including a tag in the chorus to be sung by a woman to make the song gender neutral. Imagine these lyrics being sung by Sam Moore and say, Sheryl Crow;
He's coming to you/On a high road/brain power, he's got a truckload/ and when you get him/You got something/So don't worry/Cause Al's coming
chorus: I'm a Gore Man/ (female) and I'm a Gore Woman/
I'm a Gore Man, "play it Steve./"
bridge: Grab a rope/ He'll pull you in/give us hope/ and bring this country back again/ yeah, YEAH"

Would it not have been cool to have Sam Moore record that for a theme instead of the insipid "You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet," by the stuttering Cheap Trick? Better yet, have Sam Moore tour with Gore and sing the song at every major rally. I imagine if they'd asked nicely, they might have gotten the Blues Brothers' Band to participate. I believe Steve Cropper is a good Democrat even though I once caught him in Nashville producing an album on Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker. Although song parody is legal, I even told one of the composers, David Porter, what I had in mind and he thought it was a great idea. I attempted several times to reach someone within the Gore campaign and was finally able to speak to a staffer who promised to forward the song to the person who could give it proper consideration. I admonished him to please tell whomever received the suggestion that it may sound like a joke on paper, but I was most serious in my intent to boost the campaign. I did not hear from them again. Who knows? "I'm a Gore Man," might have inspired a few extra Florida voters to go to the polls just for the soul music.

When 2004 rolled around, I dusted off the song and prepared to offer it again. I delighted in Gore's hilarious performance as host on Saturday Night Live and was sure this was the "new, relaxed" Gore preparing for a second presidential run. But, he said instead that he did not want to re-fight the election of 2000 and would not run. I wanted exactly to re-fight the 2000 election and I felt Gore would win in a walk and was bitterly disappointed by his decision. I felt he was making a political "Nixon calculation;" the one that says "if the people are tired of me then I will lay low and re-invent myself and fight another day." Nixon, like Gore, lost one of the most closely contested races in history. Close enough that Mayor Daley of Chicago and officials in Cook County, Illinois were suspected of padding the "zombie vote," enough to throw the election to Kennedy. After eight years of war and a fistful of political assassinations, the nation was so screwed up that Nixon was elected by the same razor thin margin that he lost by in 1960.

I believe this was Al Gore's strategy. I cannot believe that after a lifetime of being groomed for high office, Gore would just turn his back and walk away from the presidency after coming so close. If this was his calculation, it has proven to be a miscalculation, complicated by a factor Gore could not have seen in 2004. That "X" factor's name is Barack Obama. I don't think even an Academy Award could get Gore elected now. I only know as much about Obama as the next extremely well informed person, despite the reckless smear attempts by Fox News and Rev. Moon's Washington Times organization, to label him a Muslim who only conveniently converted to Christianity in time to run for President: all despicable lies, proven false by some simple decent journalism. I am impressed, however, with Obama's measured magnetism.

Obama's lack of experience is a false negative. What is appealing about him is his relative ease in his own skin and his forthrightness of speech. Obviously intelligent and thoughtful, Obama has a way of distilling his thoughts into succinct and direct answers to the questions asked of him without pretense or prevarication. The public response to Obama's steady assurance of confidence and calm has not been seen since the presidential campaign of Robert F. Kennedy. And regardless of his legislative experience, his middle name, his race,(I'm sure he'll be portrayed as an axe murdered before it's over),or his faith, Obama is the kind of candidate that appears once in a generation. And if the heavens line up as properly for him in the future as they have in the past, Barack Hussein Obama, is beginning to take on the appearance of that rarest of beings, an historical inevitability.

There's lots of time for faux pas and screw-ups for one and all, but Obama does not seem the type politician to be caught in a contradiction of principle. Kathleen Parker of The Washington Post made some prescient editorial comments yesterday when she said about the campaigns of Al Gore and John Kerry, "Both...were listening to their political advisers and pollsters instead of to their hearts. Trying to be what they thought people wanted them to be, rather than who they are," adding, "they may have wanted it too much." "Want has a scent. It reeks of rapaciousness and oozes from the pores of the overly ambitious. Others likely to make a run in 2008 are similarly malodorous, and you know who they are." I certainly do, but Obama is not among them. His reflective demeanor prevented him from acquiring the affliction that makes desire and desperation visible to the observer, like Al Gore demonstrated in 2000 with the "Love Story" Convention Kiss, or the invasion of Dubya's limited debating space. One of the reasons Bush was elected was simply because he was not devouring himself with desire. For now, I'm still a Gore man, but I'm watching carefully and worried that I may have to sing my Gore song alone. In that case, I may have to adapt the old Mexican song favorite "Manana," and change the lyrics to,"Obama, Obama; Obama is good enough for me."


Anonymous said...

Obama is good enough for me too. I find him refreshingly honest. I love it when a person speaks from his or her soul.
d from TN

Anonymous said...

I'm still listening and looking at John Edwards...not sure about Hillary at all. I do like Obama. So many choices..and good ones.


Anonymous said...

we all know who the real soul man is!!! Boy can you write.

Howard said...

You really need to get a job.

Anonymous said...

I have been deceived by the word 'hippie' in this blog's name. I thought that there would be some clever, out-of-the-box thinking and points of view, with criticism of both political parties...seeing as how both parties are bogus (as is all of politics for that matter). If hippies were nothing else, they were novel and creative thinkers (for the most part). As I have discovered, this blog is just a front for the Democratic Party. It should more accuratley be called,'Born Again Democrats'. If it were, extraneous thinkers would by-pass it and leave the forum to tied-in-the -wool Democrats. I wondered for so long why the criticisms only went one way and nothing was ever said about the mind-blowing inanity of the Democrats...silly me. You'll be happy to know that I am moving along now and will no longer question the one-sidedness of everything on this blog. Bye now...

Randy said...

let me introduce myself. I write this thing. Do you feel I am not fair and balanced enough? You're damn right. I will not offer equal time to antiquated politics or the party of hate. Hippies? All the living Chicago 7 are Democrats with the exception of Jerry Rubin who's a stock broker. In today's reality, the alternative to the warmongerers and greedheads is either apathy, anarchy, or the Democrats. It's funny to me how all the people who used to call themselves conservatives are so humiliated by Bush's actions in their names, that suddenly they're all Libertarians. Don't fret, I'll critcize Democrats too, but if you're looking to preach your "drop out and form alternative communities" rap that you've been pushing this past year, you're about 40 years too late.

Anonymous said...

My motto is 'screw eveyone who wears a suit'. I guess that's not fair and balanced either. By the way...Jerry Rubin is dead. It's really not fair for me to make political commentary, because I am apolitical. The whole deal with politics makes me ill. I just marvel at those who take it so seriously that they get their panties in a wad over it. And, hey!... you don't come across as an emissary of peace and love yourself. An old maxim says that we are always guilty of that which we condemn in others. You are a living advertisement for that truth. I like you but you seem full of anger...that used to be un-hip. Maybe a little reefer would smooth you out...and peace, brother. In the end, it's all small stuff. And, one more thing...alternative communities will never go out of fashion. They are just not as numerous now. They can be a nice shelter from the insanity of mainstream politics and all of the other crap that our sick society is full of. It's a matter of choosing the world that you personally want to inhabit. I really don't care who runs the country as long as they stay off of my cloud and out of my pocket book...does that make me a Libertarian? If so, hooray! I'm not as apolitical as I thought.

Anonymous said...

How about a word from Gregg, the King of Extraneous Thinkers. His commentary makes this blog. Speak, oracle!

Anonymous said...

How about this for shaking up the status quo and bringing about a change in perspective that could have political cosequences. Once a year dump LSD in the water supply and then require that everyone go to work naked. Think of how that would affect the employer/employee relationship... and from that, labor relations. Surely this would promote humility, at least in the bosses. Especially if this occurred during cold weather.

Cliff Friedman said...

Replying to Anonymous 11:12 am.

Randy beat me to the punch. This is Randy's blog, where he can write what he wants, as he sees it. If you are looking for something else, go elsewhere. Better yet, start your own. I read this blog to hear what Randy has to say. Not that I agree with much of it (what else can you expect from a warmonger and a greedhead?), but I love him anyway and enjoy making this part of my usual website visits.

Two thoughts, Randy. First, this conservative isn't calling himself a libertarian. Second, alternative communities are actually coming back in a pretty big way. These days, they are called co-housing, and they are not just for hippies anymore.

Anonymous said...

That's right. The old commune idea has resurrected under the name co-housing. A common format is a cluster of condos around a common meeting center ( sort of like an apartment clubhouse) where the communards meet for social encounters, meals, etc. Each co-housing entity is built on some commonality of interests. This could be political, religious, sexual orientation, etc., etc. The commune movement never disappeared, it just moved to the background when American culture returned to the pre-60's. There are still pockets of the old states of mind around, which in its many guises in essence centered on FREEDOM...now an endangered concept. It's still hard for me to fathom how we, as a culture, went through the 60's/70's and wound up where we are now. Even the liberals seem to have lost their taste for freedom.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to address a certain tendency that I have noticed after observing countless socio-political discussions on radio, tv, blogs, etc. This tendency is true of both the conservative and the liberal camps. It seems that there is the equivalent of the old 'one drop rule' that said that if a person has one drop of black blood in them, then they are black. There is a similar situation that exists within both the liberal and conservative camps. Here is the issue... I can't buy into any party line. It seems to many that if you don't pull for the party line in its entirety, then you are condemned as 'one of the enemy'. My positions vary depending on the issue. On some issues I am liberal and on some issues I am conservative. This puts me in a position, because of the aforementioned thinking, to be excoriated by both camps. I tend to be rejected by both liberals and conservatives. Whatever happened to independent thinking. Is such a position possible? Can anyone out there identify with what I am trying to say? It seems that independents are doomed to life as pariahs in a political netherworld. And something that blows my mind is that the party of 'tolerance' (the liberals) seem to be the most intolereant of divergent views (that is a close call though, because conservatives can be quit rabid...think of Sean Hannity...yuck!). Can anyone shed some light on what I am trying to express?

Gregg said...

Was out of the country for "Al Gore,"Soul Man"", but see that it created a lively discussion. On Obama, Randolph knows where I fit in at this stage. And Randy says it best, too.

For me, Senator Obama has, in his appearances that I have witnessed so far, an elegance that only the confidence of higher intellect confers. An honest man can make an honest comment.....but, an intelligent man who is also honest can make a spontaneous and honest comment on a relatively complex topic. It's the complexity of 2007 that requires we find an honest and also extremely intelligent leader.

Having just been in India for a week and witnessed a world that most of us had only seen in National Geographic, I can tell you that it is real, and I can also say that having seen the manner in which
1/6th of the world's human population lives, is above all else mind and soul boggling. As I was being driven by a driver from Agra (the site of the Taj Mahal) to Delhi, a 5 hour car ride, I watched out of the window at the passing "scenery". This was a main highway between a city of 1-2 million to the capitol of about 10-12 million. There were camel caravans on the sides of the highway, there were cows and bulls lazily walking along in the left lane and being honked to get off the highway. We even saw an elephant with two teenagers on top, their heads wrapped in old rags, sitting on a pile of sticks that the animal was carrying for them.

But, all of this was just so much circus. It was the staggering and endless line of one and two story cement structures lined up like so many units in a bee hive that had been unrolled to lay all of its single hollow units out single file all attached and right next to each other almost forever along the side of the highway. All about 12 feet across and maybe 15 deep, hollow to the front save for the minor manufacturing of small items by one or three or ten people who are dirty and grimy and sitting on their haunches, with crowds of people standing around outside this basically 100 mile strip mall. Most of these first floor concrete cubicles of only 5 sides had advertisements of their craft above them or hanging from the top of the front opening. They advertised what they sold, or what somebody else paid them to advertise that that other entity sold. The signs were covered in grime and plastered all over each other.

India is a country of small shop keepers. Very poor small shop keepers. Every 100 feet or so between the shops and the highway, there would be a swarm of 40 or 50 people surrounding or sitting in small chairs around a few pots that were cooking some food, all vegetarian, in the State of Gudarat, through which I was passing. Other than the slab that served as the floor of the businesses all else was on the dirt. Cows moved aimlessly anywhere they wanted. Small to medium sized short haired tan dogs singly and in groups of two or three were grazing for some food along with the cattle.......and they all grazed in the mountains of garbage. More garbage than you can imagine. To a westerner living in New England, this triggered a sadness that I have difficulty expressing. The amount of garbage was inconsistent with any sense of self respect (at least, that is from this westerner's perspective)....of course, then there is always the problem of where to put it. Think about that. NYC actually ships a significant piece of its garbage on barges to Central America or some such place.

Actually, the reason for this prolonged comment today is that it was during that ride that I, after looking to my right (the wheel is on the left in the vehicles in this former British High Colony) and seeing the squinting eyes of Vatuk, our driver, probably about my age, who smiled appropriately and with an honest gleam, and whose English was good enough for him to understand some of that which I and two of my sons spoke, that I stopped speaking. I sat very quietly for a while. My sons, aged 32 and 24, both extremely intelligent, "raised right", who have both traveled the world rather extensively, were laughing and playing Gin Rummy in the back. I sat in the front with Vatuk driving. Vatuk's window was down and we didn't ask that he put on the A/C because I felt that it wasn't on for some reason of his (maybe economical)...so, the truly dense pollution that the people on the side of the road breathe as a means of staying alive (come what may) was part of our experience, as well.
Vatuk is the same age more or less as we born again hippies that read and write on Randy's blog. We bah have been blessed in many ways by our good fortune, and I suggest that we should be very clear that it is nothing more and nothing less than good fortune, that our mother's delivered us out of probably white wombs into a room which was part of a building whose owner paid taxes to some entity as part of the United States of America. If that were not so, almost all and maybe all of what we take for granted would not be ours nor be in our experience bank. The disparity between not just my life experience and that of Vatuk's, and between the opportunities that my sons had had relative to those that had been available to Vatuk's is hackneyed and has been a part of the white liberal press since Tom Paine. And appropriately so, but this was personal now.

If one reads the most profound words at the focal point of your favorite religion. Jesus, Allah, the
Buddha, Lord Shiva, all of them. It always seems to come down to Do Unto Others, or service to your fellow man is your greatest reward, or it is in the giving in which you shall receive.

So, we sit here waiting for 08 to come around. Fortunately (there's that word again) we do have the chance to make some modestly meaningful changes by going to the polls in this country. We have media which should probably only serve as a means to get to the scope of those events that are going on rather than what they mean......because trusting their editorial content is becoming less and less of a rational thing to do and more and more no longer reasonable.

And so here I am back at Barack Obama.

Who will have the brains, balls, intuition, background, dearth of impediments to clarity, be backed by enough money to have a chance, and could very possibly, be the one who could have the decency to do unto others and who could help our great country feel the power of receiving the goodness by giving to others (our own people as well as those of us not lucky enough to have been dewombed white and in the USA)? Who will have the decency?

The Indians I spoke to said the they loved "America". Even the poorest of the poor, and I traveled through some of the worst slums, met my eye, held it, and then if I waited and didn't avert my white eyes from theirs, showed me their teeth and the gleam in their bright eyes. Sweet people. Such sweet people. They are now being pushed (internally and externally, as a group and on a personal basis) to become more "successful", and they are succeeding. GNP 8-10%. But, the worst pollution I ever saw. As the polar ice melts and this human petri dish begins to stink.

Who will have the decency to help the whole world get what it wants...enough to eat, drink, good health, peace at home and in their neighborhood, opportunites to grow intellectually and emotionally, freedom from fear of a "majority", to live one's life and meet one's days with sincerity, and be comforted by the same emanating from those around you. And to be led by those who would point out that some sacrifice is needed to achieve these things but that WE can do it.
Who will have the decency to actually strive toward those goals? Who'll have the charisma? Who'll then be able to wield the power?

Maybe that skinny little black kid who brought himself to our attention at his Key Note Speech at the DNC in 2004. Looking at it all from 2/4/7 I'd say he could give it a great shot.

And as far as this being a "Democratic" blog. Please!! Life , Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. How we gonna do that? That's what this blog is about.

Anonymous said...

Gregg, you're a poet and a true hippie...in the best sense of the word, and that's a compliment. However, the 'accident of birth' thing that you mention is just the way that life works. Also, the fact that all are born with varying degrees of talent and apptitude and a wide range of dispositions in regard to actualizing their talents and apptitudes is a part of reality's package. Some just try harder than others. These differentials produce the socio-economic stratification that drives some people crazy. They see the effects of this as 'unfairness'. So, they attempt to equalize everything by using draconian political means that usually involves curtailing freedom in some way. Because in a free society, stratification is inevitable. I opt for a free society with it's attendant problems as opposed to a controlled society which makes futile attemps to create equality (as they see it). I don't think that screwing with freedom is the answer. Education and fostering spiritality to encourage more giving and community consciousness to lessen the inherent evils would be preferable. More of these things went on in the old days and some strides were made. The return to crass materialism and the move away from spirituality is a lamentable development. Hippie culture had its upside. But freedom is the big thing. It makes me nervous when people propose to undo social evils externally and politically. Does this make me conservative or liberal? I really don't know. And I wish they would legalize pot. For one thing, it militates against linear thinking which tends to be narrow and unimaginative, and besides...I am a freedom freak.

Alan said...

Don’t put Gore on too high a pedestal. He is no different than any other politician in Washington, Republican or Democrat. Both are out for one thing and that is power and they don’t care what they do to get it. I was a Gore supporter for many years in deed and in money. Having work for over 10 years on a grass roots lobbying effort, that had the support of the Environmental Community, I watched as VP Gore lied about what we were doing because he saw a chance to use it to attack Sen. Lott. I know all this because I was involved in this from the beginning and dealt directly with Gore back when he was a Senator. He put a whole industry of small businesses at risk because he saw a chance at Lott. Our next-door Sen. Blanche Lincoln worked very hard with our group to get this done. Gore’s accusations against Lott also cast the same against her.

Anonymous said...

That's precisely why I can't understand why people get so ate up over politics. You people take it so seriously and get so incensed when you feel that your pet opinions have been dissed. The kind of thing that the previous person said is true of practically all of them. It is a comedy of errors...actually bogusness. You could put all of the virtue of all politicians in a child and he would become a lying, thieving psychopath. In fact I read an article once about a psychologist who studied the personality profiles of many politicians and he concluded that politicians and criminals have much in common. I've always remembered that. I guess politics is some sort of masochistic game that appeals to certain people. Ah, there I go talking to myself again...never mind.