This paper analyzes the song ‘Kennedy Blues” which was composed by Eric Von Schmidt. He sang the song in commemoration and remembrance of the assassination of the president of the United States of America, John F. Kennedy who was born in 1917 and passed away in 1963 at the hands of an assassin. President John F. Kennedy was a key figure in the liberalization of the United States of America from the social and economic upheavals that the country was facing at the time. To the contrary, his death did not lead to an end of the fight for the freedom of the American people but if fastened the process. This is because of the huge emotional apathy that his death attracted from all the citizens in the country hence the more aggressive and determined nature in their struggle for democracy. Eric Von Schmidt unveils his feelings of fear when his close friend named George unveils the sad news to him that the president is dead “could not believe what my friend said”. The song addresses the social upheavals such as rampant insecurity problems, societal crimes such as assassination attempts on influential people and racial discrimination that United States was facing as a result of the world war. The economic struggles exemplified how much a generation of human beings can endure and the hardships that they are force to experience because of the trials and tribulations of a dwindling security status in the country. As explained portrayed in his work, Eric Von Schmidt used his literary skills to explain how he was saddened y the untimely demise of John Kennedy. This elucidates how Eric Von Schmidt uses his art skills. From the artist’s perspective, this paper analyzes how the death of Kennedy has little influence on the crusade that he was championing.
During this era when Eric Von Schmidt composed the song, the American people encountered many challenges most of which were as a result of the poor security that was being provided to the American citizens at that time. As a result of insecurity, the people were faced with the social inadequacies which included high unemployment levels, divisions between the rich and the poor, racial discrimination between the black people and the white residents’ widespread killings of innocent citizens and those leaders who fought for the realization of their rights. It was the response to these societal vices that led to the growing popularity of musical and lyrical expression in the late 1950s and early 1960s of which Eric Von Schmidt was an integral member and symbol of the movement. The professional members of this folk movement made a decent living from their performances as a result and this greatly contributed to the betterment of their living standards (Lee 23). The songs of Eric Von Schmidt and other like-minded singers questioned the morality of the United States of America and the world at large at the time of oppression, wars and the open violation of the rights and freedom of the citizens of the country. Most of these songs incorporated a variety of issues based on social, political, economic, philosophical, biblical and literary influences that faced the American people at that time.
Eric Von Schmidt in his song “Kennedy Blues” describes the city of Dallas as a place that is full of hatred and rattled with incidences of insecurity. This is exemplified by the verse from the song which says “I lay down, lay down about midday. When I woke up, they’d stole a man away” Von Schmidt, 591). This therefore means that crimes against the citizens of the United States of America were being committed in open daylight and the responsible authorities did not do much to curb the situation that was running out of hand. Eric Von Schmidt describes the nature of confusion that engulfed the whole city of Dallas when the news broke out that the president had been murdered. He presents a scene of total chaos and confusion among the citizens of the city of Dallas when he says “Mountain run to the river, river run to the, run to the, run to the sea”. This means that the people did not know what to do hence the up and running that was being experienced in the city during that sad a critical moment in the history of the United States of America. The tears that dripped down freely from the eyes of Eric Von Schmidt and his friend George “then George turned to me, tears all in his eyes” (Von Schmidt 591), shows the mourning nature that was witnessed at the scene of the death John F. Kennedy.
It further describes the deep emotional respect that the president enjoyed during his heydays as the ruler of the states. This is captured when Eric Von Schmidt says that “When I had the news I said I’d lost part of me” (Von Schmidt 591). Eric also describes the greatness of the city of Dallas when he says that “Well, I had about Dallas, about how it was so great” (591). This point out to the realization of the dreams and aspirations of the citizens of the city at that time but at the same time, the economic growth was greatly limited by the inability of multitude of the people to escape the high levels of poverty that were being experienced during the time. This inability is captured by the admission by Eric Von Schmidt in his lyrics where he points out the fact that not all the people will survive the test of time and the struggle against the social crimes the country was experiencing at that time. This is evidenced when Eric Von Schmidt says that “The president’s been shot”, said “The president’s dead” (591). His lyrical song unveils the truth that the American people are tied to the corporations but lack the individual freedom and capability to pursue their dreams. He further goes ahead and describes the government institutions as mountains because they act as barriers to the realization of the American dream. Schmidt has no idea how long it will take for these government institutions to offer equal opportunities for all the citizens without fronting their individual interests at the expense of the will of the masses (Danlap 12).
The deployment of the imagery in the song “Kennedy Blues” by Eric Von Schmidt shows the fight of the citizens of the country against the governing institutions the existing hypocrisy. The assassination of the president of the United States of America is an imagery that signals to the citizens that the time is ripe to stand firm and fight for the realization of ultimate security for each and every citizen of the country. It is a wakeup call to the citizens to be vigilant against these societal malpractices because they won’t come to an end unless they rise and take it down by force if necessary. This is due to the fact that these evil forces impeaching the realization of better living standards for all will not come down naturally. All the citizens should therefore stand firm and be counted as an individual in order to achieve an effective positive change in their lives and also realize a unique kind of unity, togetherness and harmony among themselves. It is also prudent them to openly and without fear challenge the inequities that they were experiencing at that time as long as they were in accordance to civic nationalism. The song “Kennedy Blues” evoked an increase in the use of folksongs and music to shade more light on the high insecurity levels that were being largely caused by the American Idealism and Hypocrisy in the government institutions that were practiced across the nation. The struggle for the liberalization of America promised better security levels for all the American people irrespective of their background, color or racial belonging. Eric Von Schmidt’s song further exemplified the push for the realization of social democracy and equality for all the citizens of the country. He uses his song as the main source of power in his efforts to discourage the rampant insecurity levels that were being witnessed at the time. The song therefore instills hope and courage among the American citizens to fight for their liberalization without fear or favor
In conclusion, Eric Von Schmidt through his song “Kennedy Blues” sought identity with the common man and that is why he addressed all the discrepancies and the inequality practiced in the nation. The song was composed in respect of the president of the United States of America, John F. Kennedy, whose life was prematurely cut shot by an assassin. “Kennedy Blues” unravels the high cases of insecurity that the nation was facing at the time with its climax being the successful assassination of the president by unknown forces. These people were against the idea of democracy and freedom for all the citizens of the state that the president was fighting for. Through his song, Eric Von Schmidt experienced and witnessed too many injustices that were being practiced by the high and mighty members of the state with the help of the government institutions. The song also addresses the hatred that was experienced in Dallas city. The writer describes that the hatred was so great that it led to the death of some of the influential figures in the society exemplified by the assassination of the president “Now I know about your Dallas, your city full of hate. This clearly captures the type of life that the citizens lived, a life that was full of fear, disunity and hopelessness.