The Paragon of Protest Songs


          My personal Paragon of Protest Songs (today's category) is Timmy Thomas' 1972 song, "Why Can't We Live Together".  The Hammond organ.  That punctuation note.  Hammering home the message.  Demanding your attention with subtle simplicity.

          I was a child during Vietnam (that's how everyone referred to it.  One word.  One noun.  Heavily laden with invisible but not silent verbs.)  When I joined the "teenager ranks" my requirement to register for the draft in a short five-years didn't seem very distant.  I thought my choices were clearly defined by Walter Cronkite on the nightly news:  become a scorned soldier who napalmed innocent villagers or join the ranks of protesters beaten by police.
           At thirteen, I didn't want to do either.

          The draft was eliminated when I was fourteen.

          Vietnam ended when I was sixteen.

          When I entered Purdue University (go Boilermakers) at seventeen, all the protests had faded like my jeans.

          Papa (mentioned here and here) passed away from a heart attack in his sleep when I was nineteen years old.  At Nana's house, after his funeral, my sister and I sat at the organ (mentioned here) while family members milled, cried, and whispered around us.  We both tried to play Timmy's melody and punctuation note; demanding attention with subtle simplicity.

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