In 1973, the nation we call America was not doing well at all. For the president, Richard Nixon, it started out well - a peace treaty was signed with North Vietnam, bringing the war to an end, and two months later he made a trip to China that was hailed as a brilliant stroke of statesmanship. Just two months later, the Watergate Scandal began, which would override any successes he had and ultimately result in his resignation the following year.
Meanwhile, the end of the Vietnam War did not magically heal the rift between those who supported it and those who opposed it. The stress of the years of protest, resentment and street actions had truly divided the country, and people were exhausted and disheartened. The generation that had once celebrated peace and love turned increasingly to drugs and self-reflection. Popular music became less about politics and more about nihilism. In a few short years Disco would rule the airwaves.
It was not a good time in America.
Yet, then as now, most of us were glad enough to enjoy the prosperity of our nation, to savor the days of sun and snuggle through the rainy ones. We loved, fought, grumbled and predicted doom. We believed that the political party of our choice would save us, maybe, from the certain destruction to our very way of life the other party had in store for us.
Very little has changed.
But in 1973, songwriter Paul Simon released his solo record "There Goes Rhymin' Simon." On it were several radio hits, but it also contained this treasure of a song, which is a love letter to us all, a voice of reason and sanity that says "I am feeling the way you are, and we're all all right."
The melody is one that J.S. Bach borrowed from a secular tune of the day, and one which Simon then generously lifted from Bach, knowing that the copyright had long since run out (just kidding).
"American Tune" is just as haunting and lovely today, and the message just as simple and relevant. Now that the election is over, let's all try to get some rest.