Nov 17, 2020

By Gene Stevens

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I’m of ‘that’ generation – the baby-boomers coming of age in the 60s – a little too young, at the time, to grasp the political and historic impact of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination.  But, like millions around my age, I certainly remember that moment – where I was – when I heard the news. I was in Grade 8 at Winona Public School – in my science class – when the teacher got a call and alerted us to listen and pay attention to an announcement over the PA system. The principal told us the American president had been shot and killed.  I’ll always remember one wise-guy near the back of the room, pretended to be shot – the teacher scolded him.  I was 12, knew nothing about US politics, but my mom had often praised me for my hair looking like ‘Mr. Kennedy’.  She loved Jack and Jackie. And I sensed our family’s loss – but couldn’t yet fathom what it meant for Americans, and ultimately, for all of us growing up in the turbulent Sixties.
JFK’s murder and the ensuing investigations, controversy, doubts and theories led to increasing calousness and cynicism with the political process. And as we know, the decade unfolded with wars, riots, violence – and more assassinations, including Kennedy’s younger brother, Robert.  Music was so very important for us during that time – it seemed to speak for us, reflect our feelings, and shape our opinions. The monumental impact of JFK’s assassination has reverberated in many ways through the decades – especially in music.  I’ve gathered a dozen songs – some very famous and familiar, others not so much – yet fascinating and moving.
I’ll have our usual first-hour feature: This Week in Zoomer Music – recalling the day RCA gambled big – and won – buying Elvis Presley’s contract from SUN Records for the most money ever paid (to date) for any recording artist. I’ll also look back to the first act Ed Sullivan ‘banned’ from his show, the earliest days of Simon & Garfunkel, as ‘Tom & Jerry’, and Bob Dylan’s first album. Those were just a few of the events that happened this week in music history.  Join me this Sunday, the 22nd, for this special edition of ‘Vintage Favourites’.
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