Keith Richards—72—Dec 18, 1943

keefThe USA as a nation has been obsessed with war as we know it, and the last we supposedly “won” was World War II. We sure didn’t win much (if anything) in the Korean conflict, and damn well didn’t emerge victorious from Vietnam, nor did any of the Middle East struggles go the way our warhawk politicians would have liked (with the possible exception of Desert Storm). But, no, these defeats did not bespeak failure. They demonstrated stunning examples of America’s resolve! Our willingness to fight the good fight! Make the world safe for our shining way of life! Our goodness! Our paper and tin TV shows and movies depicting our history the way it really was! Cowboys and tough-sneering heros with Bibles and guns and don’t you dare disbelieve! Hallelujah! Right? Right?

Well, I don’t mean to burst anyone’s patriotic bubble machines but when it comes to good ol’ WWII, it was actually Russia who won the European conflict. We were just there to help. Of course, we did make big bangs with the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki—there is that—so, Americans should never forget that we started the weapons-of-mass-destruction trend.

Given this proclivity to martial tendencies, it shouldn’t have been a surprise when the US Gov waged its “War on Drugs,” which also failed and left taxpayers shelling out for prisons and systems to deal with poor saps bent on destroying the moral fiber of our great union with marijuana cigarettes. Oh, the depraved, working-class, substance madness. And as more and more states legalize the demon weed, we might also recognize the great success that Prohibition… wasn’t. History, folks. Not a movie.

A wise man (or maybe it was a woman) once speculated that “Louie Louie” would be the song most capable of surviving a nuclear holocaust. Being the melodic basis of 99% of Western music, I can’t think of a better historical metaphor. Parents, politicians and churches once waged war on it and rock & roll. And once again, defeat.

Meanwhile, Keith Richard’s bar chords chunk onward. As do those of Chuck Berry, Neil Young, Buddy Guy and nearly 100 years of music that created and sustain that thing called rock & roll, whatever it may continue to be. If US lawmakers and clergy had simply targeted ol’ Keef during their “Just Say No” rampage of morality, they could have lost the WOD a lot sooner, and saved the country a ton of money and humiliation.

To this, I say Yes.
Happy belated birthday, Mr. Richards!
Shall you remain the symbol of everlasting life.

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