When politics met Americana in 1976
One of the pleasures of being of a certain age is that you can literally rack up decades of seeing great musicians and attending gigs of all shapes and sizes. A recent BBC documentary about The Eagles jarred my memory about one such event in (gulp) 1976.
I was a Brit newbie in America and was taken to a political fund raiser for then (and now) California Governor Jerry Brown. It was at the Capital Centre outside Washington DC , which is now called something odiously corporate that I can’t be bothered to look up. The line up was The Eagles, Jackson Browne and Linda Ronstadt. I knew The Eagles vaguely, had never heard of Jackson Browne and had a huge crush on Linda Ronstadt (which, with apologies for the sexism, you will understand from the picture I have posted left). At the time, Ronstadt was reputedly the “love interest” of Gov. Brown, but I ignored that knowing that this was because she had not yet met me.
Anyway, I digress. Brown was running for president as a latecomer in the Democratic primaries. His main competitor – way ahead at the time and remaining there – was one Jimmy Carter, who of course went on to win what Americans call The Whole Shebang (a word of possibly Irish origin, whose first known citation is Walt Whitman)
Moving on. The music must have been ok, because my recollections of it are hazy. I do know that I was not particularly impressed with Jackson Browne (who I am still lukewarm about). I liked Ronstadt because I knew a lot of the songs. The Eagles were pretty good. My main memory of their set is that they dedicated their song “You Can’t Hide Your Lyin’ Eyes” to Jimmy Carter, which in retrospect given what Americans have come up with since is not only harsh but entirely unwarranted.
My other main memory is of something that could not possible happen today at a political event. Brown, aka Governor Moonbeam, took to the stage to make a short speech. But before he started he asked everyone in the Capital Center to take a deep breath and hold it in so that we could all get high from the dope fumes. Imagine that now.
So there I had both my initiation into U.S. politics and into Southern California Americana. Here’s some of the latter to be getting on with: