MUSIC: One Hundred Years of Memories—1912-2012—Part Four


 A Series in 5 Parts—1970-1989

 By: J. Marlando


A new decade typically is a cornerstone for new hope for people—the tradition of MAKING New Year’s resolutions symbolizes a positive view of the future—Starting in January, I start searching for a new job, I’ll quit smoking, I’ll give up candy and so forth. Very few people follow through but that’s humanism…well, maybe next year! A country and a nation have its own mentality—it is the mind of the state of which the people live in its shadow. Indeed, during the Cold War with the Soviet Union, the Russian people were hoping, praying for a peaceful world just we Americans were—we people are the same after all and our differences only apparent.

People—mostly students in 1970 wanted out from under the shadow of its government. The problem was that certain groups retreated from the “love and peace” incentive and began throwing rocks literally and symbolically. In February of 1970 seven young protestors sat in a court room waiting for a judge to sentence them—their names were Ronnie Davis, Abbie Hoffman, and Jerry Rubin. David Delinger, John Froines, Lee Weiner, and Tom Hayden. David Froines and Lee Weiner were released but the others were charged with conspiring to incite a riot. They were called the “Chicago Seven.”  Actually there were eight but Bobby Seale, leader of the Black Panthers at the time was locked up after calling the judge a racist, a fascist and a pig.”

The Chicago Seven were let off the hook from the original charge but were charged with crossing a state line with intent to start a riot. (They were also sentenced for numerous charges of contempt of court). Eventually Hayden would marry Jane Fonda, a wealthy, beautiful daughter of actor Henry Fonda and together they gained a national reputation for their belligerence—even making unapproved trips to North Vietnam—something that most Americans highly disapproved of as they saw it as a slap in the face to the American fighting man who was fighting and dying there. This, however, was the flavor of serious protestors and, if you will, the Flower Power days were virtually starting their decline.

With all this going on President Nixonfour(119015) was doing just the opposite of what he said he would do—he was expanding the war into Cambodia. We had been bombing across the border long before this but without public disclosure. Anyway, in Ohio, a group of college students at Kent State gathered to protest the move into Cambodia and the National Guard was called in. During some bottle throwing and name calling, guardsman shot down four students. The deaths shocked the nation—10 were wounded that day including a couple of students who weren’t even protesting. (I have no inside information but I will always think that Nixon thought by invading Cambodia and so Laos we might be able to withdraw from the war with dignity. Indeed, the U.S. dropped 800,000 tons of bombs on those places and still we were not winning).

These incidents launched the new decade along with marches for women’s equality, gay liberation and a continued struggle for Civil Rights. 1970 was a year of discontent and social disharmony. However, a great many adults who were living in the center of society began agreeing that the Vietnam War was fruitless—why were we there anyway? There were no answers except the stock answers that government always gives: We were there to give the people freedom and rid the world of advancing communism.

As for the music of 1970 Simon and Garfunkel’s, Bridge over Troubled Waters seemed to fit the times.                    

When you're weary
Feeling small
When tears are in your eyes
I will dry them all

I'm on your side
When times get rough
And friends just can't be found
Like a bridge over troubled waters
I will lay me down
Like a bridge over troubled waters
I will lay me down.



No one was seeing or feeling any major changes when 1971 crept in. On the other hand this was the year that the Pentagon Papers were published, the start of President Nixon’s serious problems. The Pentagon Papers were a top secret report about the U.S.’s involvement in the Vietnam War. As I recall, a major bit of information was that we had been fighting in Vietnam for three decades, not only since the White House’s lied about the attack in the Gulf of Tonkin.


The good news was that in spite of it all, the schools were being firmly integrated—black children were finally granted equality in education. It was about time, it had been 17 years since Rosa Park refused to sit in the back of the bus.

It was in this year that the U.S. said that it was turning the ground war over to the Vietnamese—that the South was military able and its “success” assured. What else could be said about a pull-out?

There was a triumph that year, however. Apollo 14 made a second moon landing. Here are astronauts David Scott and James Irvin taking a drive on the surface. Space travel seemed to stir most American to new hope for the future and so the country was uplifted again with the landing. Maybe things world be alright in the word anyway..?

As far as hit songs, it seems that the people—younger and older—were seeking something of “the good old days.” Even the rockers and the hipsters listened to John Denver’s Take me Home, Country Roads, written by Denver, Bill Danoff and Taffy Nivert.

Almost heaven, West Virginia
Blue Ridge Mountains
Shenandoah River -
Life is old there
Older than the trees
Younger than the mountains
Growin' like a breeze

Country Roads, take me home
To the place I belong
West Virginia, mountain momma
Take me home, country roads

All my memories gathered 'round her
Miner's lady, stranger to blue water
Dark and dusty, painted on the sky
Misty taste of moonshine
Teardrops in my eye

Country Roads, take me home
To the place I belong
West Virginia, mountain momma
Take me home, country roads

And, a unexpected song by Kris Kristofferson Me and Bobby McGee, also popularized by Janis Joplin:

Busted flat in Baton Rouge, waitin' fer a train
When I's feeling nearly faded as my jeans
Bobby thumbed a diesel down, just before it rained
And rode us all the way to New Orleans
I pulled my harpoon out of my dirty red bandana
I's playing soft while Bobby sung the blues, n-yeah
Windshield wipers slapping time I's, holding Bobby's hand in mine and
We sang every song that driver knew

Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose,
Nothing, I mean nothing honey if it ain't free, no no
Yeah feeling good was easy Lord when he sang the blues,
You know feeling good was good enough for me
Good enough for me and my Bobby McGee.:
From the Kentucky coal mines to the California sun
Yeah Bobby shared the secrets of my soul
Through all kinds of weather, through everything we done
Yeah Bobby baby kept me from the cold world
One day near Salinas Lord, I let him slip away
He's lookin' for that home, and I hope he finds it
But I'd trade all of my tomorrows for one single yesterday
To be holdin' Bobby's body next to mine

Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose
Nothing, and that's all that Bobby left me, yeah
But feeling good was easy Lord when he sang the blues
Hey feeling good was good enough for me, hmm-mm
Good enough for me and Bobby McGee


Many people had mixed emotions about Nixon but nearly all American’s agreed that he was expert in his foreign policies. Yes, even in the midst of a war that he had inherited. He was in fact the first U.S. president to visit Red China.four(119020) His visit was extremely successful diplomatically. In this same year, Nixon met with Russia’s Brezhnev to discuss the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty. (S.A.L.T.) and that also had a positive world impact.

At home this was the first year of Ms. Magazine. By 1972 women had clearly broken the chains from a subordinated past. In fact, the 1970s were in many ways the decade of “liberated” women.  
1972 was also election years and Nixon had proven to be a popular president—he won by a landslide. During that time however there had been a break-in at the Democratic National Offices which would come to be known as the Watergate Break-in. Nixon declared that he had nothing to do with the break-in. The biggest social issue at home remained the Vietnam War. By the 1970s more and more influential people were backing away from supporting the aggression while massive marches calling out to end the war continued amidst an extremely large population of American youth.

The American people, however, were changing in the 70’s. They had found out too much about politics and their government during the 1960s when so much propagandized history was exposed along with a new awareness of social injustices. Indeed, the United States would never be the same after the decade of the flower children and hippies. In fact, even the-good-old-days were being seen as more corrupted than courageous.

The memorable song of 72’ was quite universal in feeling and mindfully beautiful. It was simply called, Song Sung Blue.

Song sung blue
Everybody knows one
Song sung blue
Every garden grows one
Me and you are subject to the blues now and then
But when you take the blues and make a song
You sing them out again
Sing them out again


On January 15th President Nixon ordered the bombing stopped in North Vietnam and on the 27th of 1973, the war was ended. It would take a couple of years to withdraw all American troops. The president was even more admired by the people for ending the war but the Watergate trials were unfolding and the judicial whispers were that Richard Nixon was involved in the burglary. Finally the president called a press conference during which he said, “I am not a crook.”

Already there was talk of impeachment.

During this time was the first oil embargo caused a national gas shortage. Signs like these were common as were lines like these at the gas pumps. As it turned out, at bottom line, it was all a ploy to raise prices with a political agenda serving as an excuse for the price hike. The lines could be maddening


What was extremely positive during the 1970s is that Congress limited presidential power to send armed troops into harm way with first consulting Congress or, in short, if the president wanted to respond militarily to a situation he was obliged to first consult Congress. This was called the War Powers Act.

At around the same time our Vice President Agnew resigned because he had been caught evading taxes.  Gerald Ford who had been House minority leader for years replaced him.

In retrospect it seems fitting that one of the most popular songs of 73’ was a big hit by Elton John and Bernie Taupin. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.

When are you gonna come down
When are you going to land
I should have stayed on the farm
I should have listened to my old man

You know you can't hold me forever
I didn't sign up with you
I'm not a present for your friends to open
This boy's too young to be singing the blues


So goodbye yellow brick road
Where the dogs of society howl
You can't plant me in your penthouse
I'm going back to my plough

Back to the howling old owl in the woods
Hunting the horny back toad
Oh I've finally decided my future lies
Beyond the yellow brick road

What do you think you'll do then
I bet that'll shoot down your plane
It'll take you a couple of vodka and tonics
To set you on your feet again

Maybe you'll get a replacement
There's plenty like me to be found
Mongrels who ain't got a penny
Sniffing for tidbits like you on the ground

And in contrast the Jim Croce hit: Bad, Bad, Leroy Brown.

Well the South side of Chicago
Is the baddest part of town
And if you go down there
You better just beware
Of a man named Leroy Brown

Now Leroy more than trouble
You see he stand 'bout six foot four
All the downtown ladies call him "Treetop Lover"
All the men just call him "Sir"

And he's bad, bad Leroy Brown
The baddest man in the whole damn town
Badder than old King Kong
Meaner than a junkyard dog…


The oil embargo was lifted in April of this year by the Arab members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. It was said that the Arabs had embargoes against the United States and other countries that were supporting Israel in their war them. Before we get buggy-eyed against the Arabians, however, it is important to know that ARAMCO—the Arabian-American Oil Corporation’s stock was 75% owned by American oil companies and after the embargo profits jumped from $1.00 a barrel of oil to $4.50 barrel. Not a bad increase for merely inconveniencing and lying to the American public for a few months.

It was during this year that President Nixon could no longer deny his involvement in the Watergate break-in. He resigned in August of 74 and V.P. Gerald Ford stepped into his place. One of Ford’s first acts was to Pardon the ex-president.

One of the earliest acts of the new president was also to break the War Powers Act by ordering an invasion of a Cambodian island and a town in retaliation for the temporary detention of seaman off the ship, Mayaquez. President Reagan in 1982 would also break the Wars Powers Act but we’ll talk about that later. I suppose the point is that when it comes down to it, we have certain Americans who are…indeed, above the law. Most certainly there are a great many laws passed by Congress that Congress members do not abide by.

Beyond this, most Americans were readjusting to a new peace—what I found most interesting, however, was that the flower-children and hippies simply disbursed and, in a term, went home. What had happened to the Love and Peace movement…had it all been a sham or had the flower children been drawn so far into the politicalized anti-war-protests that they simply forgot what really motivated the movement in the first place  I have sadly wondered about this for many years.

As for the music of ’74 a romantic song written by Harry Wayne and Richard Finch created a hit with Rock Your Baby.

Woman, take me in your arms
Rock your baby
Woman, take me in your arms
Rock your baby

There's nothin' to it
Just say you wanna do it
Open up your heart
And let the lovin' start

Woman, take me in your arms
Rock your baby
Woman, take me in your arms
Rock your baby

Another big hit of the time was written by Paul McCarthy and John Lennon with the surreal name of Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.

Picture yourself in a boat on a river
With tangerine trees and marmalade skies
Somebody calls you, you answer quite slowly
A girl with kaleidoscope eyes

Cellophane flowers of yellow and green
Towering over your head
Look for the girl with the sun in her eyes
And she's gone

Lucy in the sky with diamonds
Lucy in the sky with diamonds
Lucy in the sky with diamonds…


In February of 1975 the three most powerful individuals in the Nixon Administration were sentenced to prison. The former White House chief of staff…the formal chief domestic advisor and the former assistant Attorney General who received the lightest of the sentences!

This was also the year of America’s evacuationfour(118995) from Vietnamfour(118996) and if you were for or against the war nearly all Americans felt the loss; a kind of cultural shock that we withdrew without winning. Never the less, most people yearned to regain to some kind of normality.

At the same time oil prices were going over $13.00 a barrel; South Vietnam surrendered unconditionally to communist forces; Jimmy Hoffa disappeared, assumed murdered and President Gerald Ford loaned New York $2.3 billion to keep it out of bankruptcy. And 1975 was the first year that the beloved U.S. doctors had a strike that reduced hospital services.

As for prices, they had grown by 1975.

Loaf of Bread   29 cents

Movie ticket    $1.00

Pound of coffee $1.40

A six pack of beer $1.49

What were people listening to? A big pop number was Bruce Springsteen’s Thunder Road:

The screen door slams
Mary’s dress sways
Like a vision she dances across the porch
As the radio plays
Roy Orbison singing for the lonely
Hey that's me and I want you only
Don't turn me home again
I just can't face myself alone again
Don't run back inside
Darling you know just what I’m here for
So you're scared and you're thinking
That maybe we ain’t that young anymore
Show a little faith, there's magic in the night
You ain’t a beauty, but hey you're alright
Oh and that's alright with me…


1976 was an interesting year if nothing else: This was the year that Apple was to introduce a small computer for private use; the Supreme Court reversed an earlier decision and decided that the death penalty was on again; states could ban homosexuals from having sex (which kind of put a snag in the pursuit of happiness promise but who was paying attention to that?)

The big thing 1975 was America’s celebration of 200 years of independencefour(118997) and a renewed pride in the country blossomed collectively—the music, the fireworks, the parades and the history all played a role in inspiring at least a few days of patriotic feelings for the ideals and principles of the country. At the same time “whistle blowing” was being advocated for citizens and the Bermuda Triangle gobbled up another ship—a 590-foot cargo ship with a crew of 37 simply “vanished.” At the same time Cadillac made a last assembly line convertible…a most stunning El Dorado and Jimmy Carterfour(118998) was elected President.

Don Felder, Don Hensley and Glenn Frey wrote a big hit for ’76—Hotel California.

On a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hair
Warm smell of colitas, rising up through the air
Up ahead in the distance, I saw a shimmering light
My head grew heavy and my sight grew dim
I had to stop for the night
There she stood in the doorway;
I heard the mission bell
And I was thinking to myself,
"This could be Heaven or this could be Hell"
Then she lit up a candle and she showed me the way
There were voices down the corridor,
I thought I heard them say...

Welcome to the Hotel California
Such a lovely place (Such a lovely place)
Such a lovely face
Plenty of room at the Hotel California
Any time of year (Any time of year)
You can find it here


Big brother was growing…well, bigger in 1977. Indeed, the Supreme Court made the decision that it was legal for parents to spank their children.


Not too many years later the U.S. Justice Department would be telling Americans that the country has so many laws that over 90% of everyone could be sent to prison is they were all enforced. Scary, ain’t it?  Anyway, the Alaskan pipeline was completed in June called TAPS and will start delivering 2 million barrels of oil a day. The big media event of that year was “Roots.” Roots was the history of black Americans starting in 1730 and ending seven generations later; a fascinating tale by Alex Haley.

As for the 1977 charts…Lots of people will remember the Robin Barry and Maurice Gibb Bee Gee song: Stayin’ Alive.

Well, you can tell by the way I use my walk,
I'm a woman's man, no time to talk.
Music loud and women warm.
I've been kicked around since I was born.
And now it's all right, it's O.K.
And you may look the other way.
We can try to understand
The New York Times' effect on man.
Whether you're a brother
Or whether you're a mother,
You're stayin' alive, stayin' alive.
Feel the city breakin'
And ev'rybody shakin'
And we're stayin' alive, stayin' alive.
Ah, ha, ha, ha,
Stayin' alive.
Stayin' alive.
Ah, ha, ha, ha,
Stayin' alive.



In Memorandum

The King of Rock and Roll died in August of this year; a person who touched the entire world with his voice and his style of delivering a song. His earliest hit recording was Heartbreak Hotel,  a song most American parents thought had too many sexual nuances for their teens. When they saw the gyrations delivering songs on the then famous Ed Sullivan show they wanted him banished. Instead Elvis became king and remains that in the hearts of countless millions even to this day. Perhaps you will recall some of his works:


All Shook up

Are you Lonesome Tonight

Blue Christmas

Burning Love

Can’t Help Falling in Love With you

Crying in the Chapel

Don’t Be Cruel

Don’t Cry Daddy

Hound Dog

How Great Thou Art

I Forgot to Remember to Forget

I Gotta Know

If I can Dream

In The Garden

In  The Ghetto

It Hurts Me

It’s Now or Never

Jailhouse Rock

Love Me Tender

Mean Woman Blues

Mystery Train

One Night

Puppet on a String

Return to Sender

That’s Alright Mama

The Next Step is Love


And many others that remain in so many of our hearts. Elvis came to be a symbolism of freedom and yes, coolness. Not just for guys but for gals as well; a phenomenon in living flesh that goes on living through his fans. There were so many of us.


This was a relatively quiet year but as so much of the 1970s highly sensual and sexy. The ‘70s saw a decade of women becoming sexually aggressive. For one thing the extensive work of Masters and Johnson was kicking into the collective mind of the society starting in the mid-1960s and becoming more fully digested in 1978. In many ways this was wonderful as it paved the way for people getting rid of their guilt and shame for simply being human, which cleared homosexuals from the false charge of being degenerate and unnatural. The studies had simply lifted an ignorant people from their superstitions and mythologies and freed them to feel and experience without attaching sin or wrongness to their sexuality. For most, the old taboos based on social mores were simply left by the wayside

In the meantime, the growing Mormon religion at long last permitted blacks to hold the priesthood, the Cowboys beat the Broncos in the Super Bowl and 160,000 coal miners went on strikefour(119004) to raise wages from $7.80 to $10.20 an hour over a three year period. And, car manufacturers were beginning to take fuel efficiency seriously. This was also the year of the Jonestown tragedy. Followers of the Reverend Jim Jones, a socio-religious crazy moved to Guyana to practice his “faith” without harassment or interference. The U.S. government had heard reports that some of the cult members were being held there against their will. A Representative by the name of Leo J. Ryan went to investigate and he was murdered, after that a mass suicide followed. The rather horrifying picture seen below is only a portion of the 900 others who died from taking Kool-Aide laced with cyanide.  A very bazaar incident.

Tops songs of this year included a Freddy Perren and Dino Fekaris song that will still be remembered especially for its precarious title: I Will Survive.

At first I was afraid
I was petrified
Kept thinking I could never live
Without you by my side
But then I spent so many nights
Thinking how you did me wrong
And I grew strong
And I learned how to get along

And so you're back
From outer space
I just walked in to find you here
With that sad look upon your face
I should have changed that stupid lock
I should have made you leave your key
If I've have known for just one second
You'd be back to bother me

Go on now go
Walk out the door
Just turn around now
'Cause you're not welcome anymore
Weren't you the one who tried to break me with goodbye
Did you think I'd crumble?
Did you think I'd lay down and die?
Oh no, not I

I will survive
Oh, as long as I know how to love
I know I'll stay alive
I've got all my life to live
I've got all my love to give
And I'll survive
I will survive, hey hey

Another hit of ’78 was Blondie’s Heart of Glass written by Deborah Harry and Chris Stein:

Once I had a love and it was a gas, soon turned out
Had a heart of glass.
Seemed like the real thing, only to find
Mucho mistrust.
Love's gone behind.

Once I had a love and it was divine.
Soon found out I was losing my mind.
It seemed like the real thing but I was so blind.
Mucho mistrust.
Love's gone behind.

In between "what I find is pleasing" and "I'm feeling fine",
Love is so confusing.
There's no peace of mind
If I fear I'm losing you.
It's just no good, you teasing like you do.

Once I had a love and it was a gas, soon turned out
Had a heart of glass.
Seemed like the real thing, only to find
Mucho mistrust.
Love's gone behind.

Once I had a love and it was divine.
Soon found out I was losing my mind.
It seemed like the real thing but I was so blind.
Mucho mistrust.
Love's gone behind.

In between "what I find is pleasing" and "I'm feeling fine",
Love is so confusing.
There's no peace of mind
If I fear I'm losing you.
It's just no good, you teasing like you do.


No doubt because of the sexual revolution of this decade a great many marriages broke up—the divorce rate had been extremely high over the decade… 69 percent!

With the insane arms race continuing President Carter approved building the MX mobile international ballistic missile for $30 billion dollars. Each would be 22 times more powerful than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima with a cost that could have taken a lot of world hunger away. The arms race was still going on hot and heavy, however, with nuclear war still hanging over everyone’s head between the superpowers—America and the Soviet Union.

Once again gas prices jumped up. OPEC set the average price of oil at 23.50…this made a lot of people in the world “happy players” even though the U.S. had agreed to hold their oil import to a measly 8.5 million barrels a day. Ah….good-old-boy politics!

Television had for long years been a sophisticated media but the statistics are not so surprising—99% of Americans owned television sets in ’79 but 41% liked it less. And speaking of statistics, in 1979, 11.6 of the American people were earning less than the official poverty level for a non-farm family of four. At this time the medium income for whites was $20,520 and for blacks $11,651.

A new modernism was peeking around the corner.

A pop song of this year seems fitting for the times—a song written by Bon Scott, Angus Young and Malcolm Young with the rather stirring title, Highway to Hell.

Livin' easy
Lovin' free
Season ticket on a one way ride
Askin' nothin'
Leave me be
Takin' everythin' in my stride
Don't need reason
Don't need rhyme
Ain't nothin' that I'd rather do
Goin' down
Party time
My friends are gonna be there too
I'm on the highway to hell
On the highway to hell
Highway to hell
I'm on the highway to hell…


Prices had taken quite another leap between 1975 and 1980:

Postage   15 cents

Bread      48 cents

Milk     $ 1.60

Gas       $ 1.24

The slow decline of dollar value in the shadow of higher prices was gaining momentum as modernism continued to unfold. Computers were the rage but…in 1980 a computer set off an alarm saying that Russia had launched a nuclear attack against us. It took only three minutes to find the mistake but the result could have been devastating. 

Most interesting, however, about the start of that decade was the sudden desire for Urban Cowboy-ism. In 1980 a motion picture by the name of Urban Cowboy, starred  John Travolta and Debra Winger in a kind of light story about an actual bar in Pasadena, Texas calledfour(119006) Gilley’s (the biggest night club in the world holding around 6,000) and two young, rather naïve people who meet there and fall in love. Gilley’s has a mechanical bull and Travolta’s character, Bud, attaches his ego to riding itfour(119007)If you’ve never seen the movie it is highly entertaining with extreme historic value.

The major observation, however, is that the movie rooted one of America’s most wide-spread movements, capturing the hearts and minds of young and old alike…Urban-Cowboy-ism.

Soon after the movie western (call it cowboy) fashions quickly became popularized most virtually everywhere in the United States and yes Wall Street to Main Street. Everywhere you looked there were guys and gals and teens and little kidsfour(119010)four(119008) clad as “urban” cowboys. This proved to be a fad but while it lasted it was perhaps the nation’s most dynamic demonstration of Americana and collective cohesiveness in its history. And, there was somewhat of a returning to the old values while the “movement was peaking. After the sexual revolution of the ‘70s couples were now going out to simply dance and have a good time—yes, of course there were those who had affairs and so forth but in overview America was desiring a return to simpler ways; a returning to a more romantic past.

This was also the year that Ronald Reagan became president.


As for other news the beloved Beatle, John Lennon was shot to death by a crazy young man as he was returning home. This rather abstract photo was taken on the day he died.


Pop songs began with Michael Jackson’s Rock With You

Girl, Close Your Eyes
Let That Rhythm Get Into You
Don't Try To Fight It
There Ain't Nothin' That You Can Do
Relax Your Mind
Lay Back And Groove With Mine
You Got To Feel That Heat
And We Can Ride The Boogie
Share That Beat Of Love

I Wanna Rock With You (All Night)
Dance You Into Day (Sunlight)
I Wanna Rock With You (All Night)

And a mind-blowing hit by Blonde written by Gregg Rolie and Andre Pessis. Call Me:

Color me your color, baby.
Color me your car
Color me your color, darling.
I know who you are
Come up off your color chart
I know where you're coming from

Call me (call me) on the line
Call me, call me any, any anytime
Call me(call me) I'll arrive
You can call me any day or night
Call me!

The ‘80’s song that was a gigantic hit for countless fans was written by Roger Bowling and Billy Wheeler. The popular Kenny Rogers sang, Coward of the County:

Ev'ryone considered him the coward of the county.
He'd never stood one single time to prove the county wrong.
His mama named him Tommy, the folks just called him yellow,
But something always told me they were reading Tommy wrong.

He was only ten years old when his daddy died in prison.
I looked after Tommy 'cause he was my brother's son.
I still recall the final words my brother said to Tommy:
"Son, my life is over, but yours is just begun.

Promise me, son, not to do the things I've done.
Walk away from trouble if you can.
Now it won't mean you're weak if you turn the other cheek.
I hope you're old enough to understand:
Son, you don't have to fight to be a man."

There's someone for ev'ryone and Tommy's love was Becky.
In her arms he didn't have to prove he was a man.
One day while he was workin' the Gatlin boys came callin'.
They took turns at Becky.... n' there was three of them!

Tommy opened up the door and saw his Becky cryin'.
The torn dress, the shattered look was more than he could stand.
He reached above the fireplace and took down his daddy's picture.
As his tears fell on his daddy's face, He heard these words again:

"Promise me, son, not to do the things I've done.
Walk away from trouble if you can.
Now it won't mean you're weak if you turn the other cheek.
I hope you're old enough to understand:
Son, you don't have to fight to be a man."


The most shocking news in ’81 was the attempted assassination of the new president. A deranged young man by the name of John Hinckley who, among other reasons, was wanting to impress a girl. Reagan joked on his way to the operating room saying to the doctors, “I hope you guys aren’t Democrats” and telling his wife that he “forgot to duck.”

Also wounded was two security guards and press secretary James Brady who would recover but pay a price for the shooting for the rest of his life.

This was also the year that the first Columbia Shuttle orbited the earth and IBM introduced its personal computer.

Pop songs of ’81included Joan Jett and the Black hearts: I Love Rock N’ Roll.

I saw him dancin' there by the record machine
I knew he must a been about seventeen
The beat was goin' strong
Playin' my favorite song
An' I could tell it wouldn't be long
Till he was with me, yeah me
And I could tell it wouldn't be long
Till he was with me, yeah me, singin'

I love rock n' roll
So put another dime in the jukebox, baby
I love rock n' roll
So come and take your time and dance with me

The big country his of the year was written by Jason Desrouleaux, Claude Kelly, Jonathan Totem and Emanuel Kiriakou and simply called, Queen of Hearts.

There comes a time in every man's life
When he's gonna have to make a choice
Should he keep up with the player's life
Or listen to that inner voice

Sayin if you got a good one
You'd be a fool if you let it go
I admit the other days were fun
But I think it's time for me to grow

There ain't no one in this entire world
I'd rather be with than you girl

So I'm throwin' out all my cards
Cuz I think I've finally found the
Queen of Hearts (Queen of Hearts)
Whoa ohh ohh ohh
I used to be the King of Clubs
But now those days are done
Oh, cuz I know you are
The Queen of Hearts
You're my Queen of Hearts


This year President Reagan asked Congress to cut domestic spending but asked for expansion in military spending. In the meantime the U.S. poverty level was highest since the late 1960sfour(119026). Because of cuts and loss of other benefits America was to see a steady growth of homeless and street peoplefour(119025).  Before the 1980s it was rare to even see a hobo in America but during the eighties a whole new generation of homeless were born; a disgrace for the wealthiest country in the world.

 The national newspaper U.S.A. Today was launched on the 15th of September and continues strongly in 2012.

Also in ’82, American Marines joined a multi-national force in Beirut but would perform a non-combat the war torn country. In the meantime a recession continued to shadow the United States and industry was at its lowest level since 1934. Reagan hoped to uplift the economy by his 10% tax cut and 7% rise in defense spending.

 In spite of it all most working Americans were content with the status quo in America although problems overseas had a great many concerned if not worried. At the same time a hit song by Paul McCartney carried a vital message with it. Ebony and Ivory:

Ebony And Ivory Live Together In Perfect Harmony
Side By Side On My Piano Keyboard, Oh Lord, Why Don't We?
We All Know That People Are The Same Where Ever We Go
There Is Good And Bad In Ev'ryone,
We Learn To Live, We Learn To Give
Each Other What We Need To Survive Together Alive.

Ebony And Ivory Live Together In Perfect Harmony
Side By Side On My Piano Keyboard, Oh Lord Why Don't We?

And this memorable country piece popularized by Willie Nelson: Always On My Mind.
Maybe I didn't love you
Quite as often as I could have
Maybe I didn't treat you
Quite as good as I should have

If I made you feel second best
Girl I'm sorry I was blind
You were always on my mind
You were always on my mind

Maybe I didn't hold you
All those lonely, lonely times
And I guess I never told you
I'm so happy that you're mine

Little things I should have said and done

I just never took the time
You were always on my mind
You were always on my mind

And a hit by the country phenomena, Alabama—Mountain Music.

Oh, play me some mountain music
Like grandma and grandpa used to play
Then I'll float on down the river
To a Cajun hideaway

Drift away like Tom Sawyer
Ride a raft with ol' Huck Finn
Take a nap like rip van winkle
Daze dreamin' again

Oh, play me some mountain music
Like grandma and grandpa used to play
Then I'll float on down the river
To a Cajun hideaway

Swim across the river, just to prove that I'm a man
Spend the day bein' lazy, just bein' nature's friend
Climb a long tall hickory, bend it over, skinnin' cats

Playin' baseball with chert rocks, using sawmill slabs for bats

Play some back-home, come-on music
That comes from the heart
Play something with lots of feelin'
'Cause that's where music has to start

Oh, play me some mountain music
Like grandma and grandpa used to play
Then I'll float on down the river
To a Cajun hideaway, hey hey


The news was fascinating and hopeful in ’83. President Reagan had proposed construction of an anti-ballistic missile (ABM) system that would render incoming missiles impotent. A month later the U.S. embassy in Beirut was bombed with a car loaded with 300 pounds of TNT. Later a bomb hit a Marine compound there that killed over 200 sleeping Marines. During this same period a Soviet Union fighter jet shot down a Korean airliner killing 269 passengers including 61 Americans. (The plane somehow was off course and was flying over a Soviet strategic base).

This was the same year we invaded the island of Granada. Reagan said that the attack was primarily out of concern for the 1,100 Americans living there. This photo gives a general idea where the island is and the next shows Blackhawk copters landing troops there.


At this same time the anti-war T.V. show M.A.S.H. remained a gigantic hit with 125 million viewers.

The pop song of ’83 was made popular by Eddie Rabbit and Chrystal Gail. Just You and I:

Just you and I,

Sharing our love together.
And I know in time,

We'll build the dreams we treasure.
We'll be all right, just you and I.

Just you and I
Just you and I

Sharing our love together
And I know in time,
And I know in time,
We'll build the dreams we treasure.
And we'll be all right,
Just you and I.

And I remember our first embrace,
That smile that was on your face,
The promises that we made.
And now your love is my reward,
And I love you even more,
Than I ever did before.


1984 saw more bank failures since 1938 and this was an election year. Indeed, for the first time in history a woman, Geraldine Ferrarofour(119031)ran for president. Ronald Reagan won a second term.

Pop songs of that year: a Terry Britten song performed by Tina Turner’s, What’s Love Got to do With It?

You must understand how the touch of your hand
Makes my pulse react
That it`s only the thrill of boy meeting girl
Opposites attract
It`s physical
Only logical
You must try to ignore that it means more than that

Oh, What`s love got to do, got to do with it
What`s love but a second hand emotion
What`s love got to do, got to do with it
Who needs a heart when a heart can be broken

And the rather heart-thumping Bruce Springsteen’s, Born in the U.S.A:.

Born down in a dead man's town
The first kick I took was when I hit the ground
You end up like a dog that's been beat too much
Until you spend half your life just covering up

Born in the U.S.A., I was born in the U.S.A.
I was born in the U.S.A., born in the U.S.A.

Got in a little hometown jam
So they put a rifle in my hand
Sent me off to a foreign land
To go and kill the yellow man

Born in the U.S.A. . . .

Come back home to the refinery
Hiring man said, "Son if it was up to me"
Went down to see my V.A. man
He said, "Son, don't you understand"

I had a brother at Khe Sanh
Fighting off the Viet Cong
They're still there, he's all gone


The Supreme Court went down a strange road this year. When we think absolutely objectively we can understand why prayer was banned in school. Our country was founded on freedom of religion and therefore a Christian prayer would indeed become unconstitutional in fourteenth Amendment terms. However, in ’85, the Supreme Court banned a moment of silent meditation at the start of each school day…for prayer, yes or for whatever. My grandmother always used to say never beat a dead horse and, as far as I am concerned, that is exactly what happened with this rather over-the-top ruling.

This was the year of the first Arab terrorist high jacking. 39 Americans on the TWA flight served as hostages with at least one passenger viciously murdered. The reason for the high jacking given was to demand Israelis to free Palestinian prisoners but their slogan was: America is the Great Satan. As terrifying as that was, no one suspected the madness that would come in the next century.

What became most visual in 1985 was the growing number of homeless


While the U.S. changed from being the planet’s biggest loaner into a credit nation.

As for songs high on the charts—remember Careless Whisper?

I feel so unsure
As I take your hand and lead you to the dance floor
As the music dies something in your eyes
Calls to mind a silver screen and all its sad goodbyes

I'm never gonna dance again
Guilty feet have got no rhythm
Though it's easy to pretend
I know you're not a fool

I should have known better than to cheat a friend
And waste a chance that I'd been given
So I'm never gonna dance again
The way I danced with you

Time can never mend
The careless whispers of a good friend
To the heart and mind ignorance is kind
There's no comfort in the truth, pain is that all you'll find

And that big hit inspirational song by Michael Jackson: We Are the World.

There is a time when we should heed a certain cause
'Cause the world, it seems is riding it's line
'Cause there's a chance for taking
In needing our own lives
It seems we need nothing at all

I used to feel, I should give away my heart
And it shows that we are needing in there
Then I read the headlines
And it said they're dying there
And it showed that we was heeding a stand

We are the world, we are the children
We are the one to make a brighter day
So let's start giving
There's a chance we're taking
We're taking our whole lives
It's true, we'll make a brighter day
Just you and me

Give them your heart
And you will see that someone cares
'Cause you know that they can't feed them all
Then I read the paper
And it said that children die
And it shows that soon can we work hard

We are the world, we are the children
We are the one to make a brighter day
So let's start giving
But there's a chance we're taking
We're taking our whole lives
It's true, we'll make a brighter day
Just you and me


This year virtually began with a terrible tragedy—6 crew members and a very excited school teacher who was aboard the Shuttle Challenger died in this explosionfour(119034)This was also the year that the Iran Arms deal was exposed: What happened is this: A magazine in Beirut reported that weapons had been sold to Iran (they were supposed to be our enemy) and in return Iran would have prisoners released from a crazy Muslim group on Lebanon and that the profits from the sale was going to the contras to buy guns.

When the president was asked about this by the American press he lied and said the shipment to Iran consisted of token anti-tank missiles and ended with saying that operation was created to promote a dialog with Iranian moderates. The truth was that the trade did free some prisoners but the major objective was to help the contras fighting against Nicaraguan influences. Indeed, a month before the Iran incident the Nicaraguans shot down a transport plane and captured an American pilot who was later identified as being connected to the C.I.A. What this basically amounted to was the U.S. backing a terrorist group against its own government. One Congressman, Henry Gonzales from Texas tried to introduce a bill to impeach Reagan for his participation in the scandal but Congress quickly gave a thumb’s down to that idea. In the end a Colonel North four(119035)took the fall in the following year, and was eventually put on trial for lying to Congress (1988) but he was not given a prison sentence and ended up with a slap on the wrist and hours of civic duty. This was good because a great many Americans were on the Colonel’s side seeing him far more heroic than an international scoundrel. It is as historian Howard Zinn tells us, however. “The Iran-contra affair was only one of the many instances in which the government of the United States violated its own laws in pursuit of some desired goal in foreign policy.”

This was also the year that it became apparent that America was becoming more and more dependent on foreign industry and sliding into becoming a service country. As far back as 1974 the Unions were shouting that we were becoming a company “stripped of its industrial capacity and meaningful work.” This trend has continued into the new millennium!    

As for pop songs of 1986 Whitney Houston had the hot hit, How Do I know.

There's a boy I know, he's the one I dream of
Looks into my eyes, takes me to the clouds above
Ooh I lose control, can't seem to get enough
When I wake from dreaming, tell me is it really love

How will I know (Don't trust your feelings)
How will I know
How will I know (Love can be deceiving)
How will I know
How will I know if he really loves me

And, on the country side the Dean Dillon song performed by Geroge Strait, Nobody in His Right Mind Would ‘ave left her.

I burn with desire each time my heart fans the fire
To that old flame that burns inside of me
She cried when I left her, now I try to forget her
Oh how foolish I was to ever wanna leave

Because nobody in his right mind would ‘ave left her
I had to be crazy to say good bye
Nobody in his right mind could ‘ave left her
Even my heart was smart enough to stay behind


1987 was, in a term, a rather bazaar year. Two more TV Evangelists were exposed in a sex scandal. Jim Baker, who shared a million dollar business selling religion with his wife Tammy took the fall publicly, as did other “truth” preachers before him landing in disgrace and eventually prison for “fleecing” his followers.

The famous Pop artist Andy Warholfir died this year. (Best known for his soup can paintings). Our warships blasted away at Iran in retaliation for Iran firing missiles at a US-flagged tanker off the coast of Kuwait. And speaking of missiles the United States and the Soviets agreed on a missile reduction treaty during this same time.

A hot song of that year was a Madonna hit: Open Your Heart.

I see you on the street and you walk on by
You make me wanna hang my head down and cry
If you gave me half a chance you'd see
My desire burning inside of me
But you choose to look the other way
I've had to work much harder than this
For something I want don't try to resist me

Open your heart to me, baby
I hold the lock and you hold the key
Open your heart to me, darlin'
I'll give you love if you, you turn the key

And on the country side, another Geroge Strait hit: All My X’s Live in Texas:

All my ex's live in Texas
and Texas is the place I'd dearly love to be
but all my ex's live in Texas
and that's why I hang my hat in Tennessee

Rosanna's down in Texarkana
wanted me to push her broom
Sweet Eileen's in Abilene
She forgot I hung the moon
and Allison's in Galveston
somehow lost her sanity
and Dimple's who now lives in Temple's
got the law looking for me



Another evangelist bit the moral dust this year and this time one of the most famous of all, Jimmy Swaggard, a Bible belt icon. The naughty boy visited a prostitute and that ended his career. Remember the Bakker scandal talked about early? Swaggered had called Jim Baker a “Cancer on the body of Christ” so, I assume, what goes around comes around.

In this year American troops were moved into Honduras in order to “warn” the Sandinistas but (it was said) not to participate in any military action. What had happened was that the Sandinistas had chased the contras into Honduras and America wasn’t about to stand for a loss. A few days later a truce was signed between the Sandinistas and contras. Part of the deal was that 3,000 contras prisoners would be released. The gigantic news, however, was that the Cold War that had lasted for four decades was finally coming to an end. President Reagan and the Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachevfour(119037) seems to have made an unofficial agreement that was destined to become official. Interestingly, the Russian apparently liked Reagan and the world slept better because of him.

In this same year the Gulf War ended. The Ayatollah Khomeinifour(119039) said he ended the war in the interest of the Islamic Republic.”

This was the year that Vice President Geroge Herbert Walker Bushfour(119041) became President of the United States winning over Michael Dukakis of Massachusetts.

As for the pop music of that year, Chicago’s “Look Away” was high on the charts, a song written by Diane Warren.

When you called me up this morning,
Told me 'bout the new love you found,
I'm said "I'm happy for you,
I really happy for you."
Found someone else,
I guess I won't be coming 'round.
I guess it's over, baby;
It's really over, baby, whoa...
And from what you said
I know you've gotten over me;
It'll never be the way it used to be.
So if it's gotta be this way,
Don't worry, baby, I can take the news okay.

But if you see me walking by,
And the tears are in my eyes,
Look away, baby, look away.
If we meet on the streets someday,
And I don't know what to say,
Look away, baby, look away.
Don't look at me;
I don't want you to see me this way

As for country, the Oak Ridge Boys landed this one on the charts: Gonna Take a Lot of River:

I ain't gonna ride no rail or hitchhike down no highway
I aint' going nowhere feeling the way I do
Because my baby's long gone and nothings going my way
I'm gonna let this muddy water just wash away my blues.

Gonna take a lot of river,
To keep this broken heart afloat,
Gonna take a lot of river
Running all the live long days,
Gonna take the Mississippi,

the Monongahela and the Ohio,
Gonna take a lot of river

To wash these blues away.


Americans wept this year when the beloved Lucille Ballfour(119042) died. She was best known from the TV show, I Love Lucy.

The Supreme Court was up to it again. This time they declared that flag burning is expressive conduct and therefore considered free speech.

It was this year that Muslim extremists executed an American Hostage—they released a short video of the hostage hanging from a noose. No one dreamed back then the horror that would occur in 2001 by other crazies in the ranks of “Muslim extremists.”

This too was a year of a devastating earthquake in San Francisco. These photos show only a sampling of the damage.

four(119045) four(119043)four(119044)

But good news abounded worldwide. The Berlin Wall was finally coming downfpur and the world was celebrating.

As for pop music that year, a song written by Jeff Silbar and Larry Henley made popular by the vivacious Bette Midler—Wind Beneath my Wings:

Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh.
It must have been cold there in my shadow,
to never have sunlight on your face.
You were content to let me shine, that's your way.
You always walked a step behind.

So I was the one with all the glory,
while you were the one with all the strength.
A beautiful face without a name for so long.
A beautiful smile to hide the pain.

Did you ever know that you're my hero,
and everything I would like to be?
I can fly higher than an eagle,
'cause you are the wind beneath my wings.


                                                                      Part        Four

The 1980s had been a rather strange decade starting out with Urban-Cowboy-ism and ending with the symbol of oppression—the Berlin Wall—coming down. And of course the very idea that the Superpowers had finally made a peace between them was a joy for the world.

The big question was…what would happen next?

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