Country music star Brad Paisley is either an idiot or a genius. If he wrote the song "Accidental Racist" to stir a whirlwind of (mostly bad) publicity, he's a genius. But the negative cultural consensus strongly suggests he should have never been dumb enough to try to write a racial-harmony song.
Seized by some peculiar muse (clearly one with a sense of humor), I have undertaken to learn the cello in middle age.
Fifteen years ago, after special prosecutor Ken Starr questioned President Bill Clinton about his involvement with Monica Lewinsky, Starr—overcome with a “sense of gloom”—shambled into his Virginia home, collapsed into bed, and asked himself, “How could a sensible and sane government come to this?”
<P>While watching the Grammy awards last Sunday, it occurred to me that American culture has been defined by music ever since the end of World War II. After the Germans and Japanese surrendered in 1945, millions of GI's returned home to marry and begin families. The big-band era of good-time music accompanied that, and romantic singers like Frank Sinatra ruled the day.
In the days since the second Obama inauguration, I've been thinking about Kelly Clarkson and Beyonce. No, not the great lip-synching controversy, but the choice of popular entertainment for a solemn national rite.
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