Music for an Empire in Decline

(6 pm – promoted by ek hornbeck)

NOTE:  All but the last two videos in this diary are YouTube finds.  The final two are compilations of my own (please forgive the poor quality – I’m still learning), and the last one features some prominent kossacks from last year’s Yearly Kos in Chicago.

It is all too easy to idealize an age, especially if sufficient time has passed to blunt the pain and obscure the harsh realities of the day.  It is too tempting to look back in longing for a past that never really existed.  We all seem to have a tendency to do this – ah the good old days we say.

“Nothing is more responsible for the good old days than a bad memory.”

Franklin Pierce Adams

“Things ain’t what they used to be and probably never was.”

Will Rogers

“The good old days. I was there. Where was they?”

Moms Mabley


With that said, a few words about the 60s:  it was a time of conflict, angst and paranoia.  It was a time of racial battles, cultural repression and the horror of war on the nightly news.  It was a time saturated with stories of death in the jungle, death in the streets and the death of heroes and dreams at the hands of assassins.  It was a time of sadness and grief, confusion and sorrow, fear and loathing.  

“History is hard to know, because of all the hired bullshit, but even without being sure of ”history” it seems entirely reasonable to think that every now and then the energy of a whole generation comes to a head in a long fine flash, for reasons that nobody really understands at the time — and which never explain, in retrospect, what actually happened.”

Hunter S. Thompson

The 60s era was a time of great darkness in America, which made what light there was shine all the more brightly.  I remember how so many of us truly believed that we were going to change the world – that our collective energy was going to somehow convert the mean, violent, greedy and hateful to our philosophy of peace, love and understanding.  We were delusional I’m sad to say, but at times it seemed so real.  

“We were warriors then, and our tribe was strong like a river.”

Hunter S. Thompson

Joni Mitchell – Woodstock

It may be that we deluded ourselves as a means of coping with our heartbreak at learning that the America we were taught to love and revere never really existed.

“Of all the men that have run for president in the twentieth century, only George McGovern truly understood what a monument America could be to the human race.”

Hunter S. Thompson

That’s the saddest part for me – America could have been a monument to the human race.

Supertramp – The Logical Song

One might hope that with all we’ve been through as a nation that we’d have learned some lessons, that we would turn away from the horrors of war and embrace the hope of peace, reject violence and seek understanding, disavow hatred and spread love for all of humanity to every corner of the globe.  We can always hope, but we never seem to win against the forces of hatred and darkness.  I want so badly to believe that we are better than this.

“In a nation run by swine, all pigs are upward-mobile and the rest of us are fucked until we can put our acts together: Not necessarily to Win, but mainly to keep from Losing Completely.”

Hunter S. Thompson

Michael Franti – Light Up Ya Lighter (hat tip to my friend, DrSteveB for turning me on to this video)

The seminal event of the 60s was the war in Vietnam.  For the longest time I believed that we had learned valuable lessons from that horror show.  I am overcome with sadness to have to admit that I was wrong…terribly wrong.  We have learned nothing.

4 Non Blondes – What’s Up

“The ugly fallout from the American Dream has been coming down on us at a pretty consistent rate since Sitting Bull’s time-and the only real difference now, with Election Day ’72 only a few weeks away, is that we seem to be on the verge of ratifying the fallout and forgetting the Dream itself.”

Hunter S. Thompson

Moody Blues – Isn’t Life Strange

The utter collapse of this Profoundly criminal Bush conspiracy will come none too soon for people like me… The massive plundering of the U.S. Treasury and all its resources has been almost on a scale that is criminally insane, and has literally destroyed the lives of millions of American people and American families. Exactly. You and me, sport – we are the ones who are going to suffer, and suffer massively. This is going to be just like the Book of Revelation said it was going to be – the end of the world as we knew it.

Hunter S. Thompson



Skip to comment form

    • OPOL on July 13, 2008 at 21:32

    and for finding music and joy in the midst of sorrow.

    • Robyn on July 13, 2008 at 21:41

    …but I fear I shall not live that long.

  1. I went and found this from his speech titled Where do we go from here? Its from August 1967:

    When our days become dreary with low hovering clouds of despair, and when our nights become darker than a thousand midnights, let us remember that there is a creative force in this universe, working to pull down the gigantic mountains of evil, a power that is able to make a way out of no way and transform dark yesterdays into bright tomorrows. Let us realize the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.

    Sometimes I wonder what Martin would say today. Was this just optimistic rhetoric? Or is our view of the universe right now just too limited to see the momentum building in that arc?

    • OPOL on July 13, 2008 at 22:21

    but I grow increasingly impatient as disaster looms in the form of global warming.  I see us running out of time for long arcs of any sort.  We must act and act quickly because trouble is on the horizon. (I know, people have always said that but guess what?  This time it’s for real.)

    P.S.  The parenthetical statement is not aimed at you.

    • RiaD on July 13, 2008 at 22:50

    that was beautiful.

    i’ve been humming isn’t life strange for about a week now….


  2. Well, its the song 🙂 :

    Alistair Hulett’s is the traditional English version (even though he’s apparently Scots).  It’s for those who are a bit more feisty.

    Billy Bragg wrote his lyrics in 1991, thinking that the older versions were a bit archaic.  It’s explained in the documentary The Internationale, which is great (I own it).

    “Change will not come from above.”  Indeed!

    Finally is the scene from Reds:

    We know the revolution in Russia was hijacked, but it was to a great extent a people’s revolution.

  3. I really liked your video!

    Thank you!

    • kj on July 14, 2008 at 00:35

    say hello

  4. hee – just being silly

    Gonzo post OPOL!  & I liked your Moody Blues video.  I noticed some prominent Dharmaniacs too!  

    • kj on July 14, 2008 at 04:10

    • kj on July 14, 2008 at 04:26

    • Edger on July 14, 2008 at 12:11

  5. to live by the words of the good Doctor:

    Yesterday’s weirdness is tomorrow’s reason why.

    Over the years, I’ve found that it explains nearly everything. Except possibly 42. Don’t panic.

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