Song Of The Day 1/28/2016: Dick Clark – “Open Letter to the Older Generation”

When DJs Sing (or Speak Over Musical Accompaniment) – Dick Clark still does not get the credit he deserves. He was, at times, the most dependably rational TV personality connected with rock and roll. They used to call him "America's Oldest Teenager," or if you prefer, "America's Most Infuriatingly Young-Looking Sexagenarian." What we didn't get to see a lot of from him was his remarkable clarity of thought and philosophy when it came to pop culture, or the way he straddled cynicism with the constantly changing milieu which he overlorded. Like when he went toe-to-toe with Lester Bangs in 1973. Seriously, that's some deep shinola, and you can dance to it.

"Open Letter to the Older Generation" was one of a few responses to a curious recording by one Victor Lundberg, "An Open Letter to My Teenage Son." (Believe it or not we'll have another response coming up in March.) I've spoken about this recording before, in which a gruff but fair old man forgives his son for all his expressions of coifs and politics, except if he decides to burn his draft card. Clark, sensing that his target audience was being unfairly maligned, tried to steer the stern sneers from Pops and Mom away from blaming the kids for everything that was going wrong in the '60s, including riots, acid, marijuana and "turning on... and on... and ON... and ON." Dick's not having any of that, because the kids he knows aren't riding the devil's bristles with the Lizard King. They're very decent. They just have a lot of questions about toxic waste and George McGovern that trip the parents up. This being 1967 though, at the height of the Vietnam War, Clark ends the song in a stark, frankly amazing (though showboat-y) twist that undoubtedly made those parents feel immediate, acute guilt. Mission accomplished, kids! Let's go get stoned!

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