John Denver – The Ballad Of Richard Nixon

Can one purchase this six second long silent song on ITunes? Many song lyrics websites still offer the “lyrics”!

This “song” is from John Denver’s first record, Rhymes & Reasons, from 1969. It detracts from what we loved about the artist.

We adored him for his folky, G-rated country boy tunes, the simple environmental paeans, the pretty love songs. The interregnums of such blatant politicking on vinyl detract from his essence and charms.

At any rate:

Richard Nixon was elected in 1969, a controversial Republican president that later resigned from office, over the “Watergate” scandal. We can imagine Denver’s silence in this brief ballad is supposed to mean he didn’t like the guy. It probably seemed like a clever idea at the time to dedicate a few rotations of a record needle to how little he meant to John Denver; that the man is not worth a single guitar strum, even of a minor chord. And maybe it was too soon in the reign of the country’s 37th President to write an epic concept album bashing his administration and politics. Yet, the silence could backfire:

You may have heard people say, hey, you didn’t vote, so don’t complain! Never mind the saying, don’t say anything if you’ve nothing nice to say: at least if you’re going to craft an argument against a politician… have one!

Still, John Denver, we can be glad you didn’t spoil an album that also included Leaving On A Jet Plane, with a more drawn out cheap political smear, even if we later learned in many ways, Nixon deserved it. We can be thankful maybe another artist such as him, in this case, didn’t feel compelled to pretend they were an authority on politics. But the little song seems daft today.

Wait! Denver also had a little jab at “Tricky Dick’s Vice President, Spiro Agnew, too, on the same record. He couldn’t keep his mouth shut, or at least stick to singing about rainbows and meadows.  Perhaps this attempt at his defence should be retracted, then. Surely his loving fans who miss him so much also revere him for the songs about dolphins and rainbows and mountains that are lasting and near universal in their appeal.

Ha ha! This post wrote way more than the little song would suggest is demanded. It is a companion post to Tom Paxton’s The Ballad of Spiro Agnew. For more on John Denver, his environmental song, Calypso, is reviewed here, too.

5 thoughts on “John Denver – The Ballad Of Richard Nixon

  1. Pingback: Tom Paxton – The Ballad of Spiro Agnew | Political Tunes

  2. Oh my goodness. I was surprised to learn that the album was from 1969, because I had thought “The Ballad of Richard Nixon” referred to the 18.5 minutes of silence on the Watergate tapes. Oops.

  3. Pingback: Neil Young – Campaigner | Political Tunes

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