Sunday, July 19, 2009

Bob Dylan...Lucy Simon...WALTER CRONKITE

"I was sittin` home alone one night in L.A.,
Watchin` old Cronkite on the seven o`clock news.
It seems there was an earthquake that
Left nothin` but a Panama hat
And a pair of old Greek shoes...
So I turned it off and went to grab another beer.
Seems like every time you turn around
There`s another hard-luck story that you`re gonna hear..."

Bob Dylan, of course.

Perhaps some hardcore Dylanologists thought of the song when Walter Cronkite passed away at the age of 92, two days ago (July 17th). Mr. Cronkite had given up his anchor chair on the CBS Evening News back in 1981, so there's a generation out there who have no idea about "old Cronkite," except perhaps that well re-run clip of him giving the news about JFK's murder in Dallas in 1963.

Briefly put, Walter Cronkite was a real newsman, and unlike the Katie Couric types today, he was famous for finding news, interpreting news, writing and reporting news...not just reciting the news. He did it with a fatherly assurance, so that kids growing up with Uncle Walt Disney, still had an Uncle Walter in their lives...someone who could help them deal with more than the Mickey Mouse problems in life.

Mr. Cronkite, practically pioneered the concept of a news anchor actually going to dangerous places. After going to Vietnam to see the realities there, he editorialized on a February 1968 broadcast: "To say that we are closer to victory today is to believe, in the face of the evidence, the optimists who have been wrong in the past...The only rational way out...will be to negotiate, not as victors, but as an honorable people...” President Johnson, still toying with the idea of running for another term, told an aide, "If I’ve lost Cronkite, I’ve lost the country.”

Right-wing idiots stewed about Mr. Cronkite's switch from being (like J.F.K.) an early supporter of the war to an opponent. They forgot that Mr. Cronkite was no pacifist flinching at the sight of blood. He was a correspondent in World War II, and saw much worse carnage, but it was a war he believed needed to be fought and won. Mr. Cronkite was on the bloody beach on D-Day, he was at the Battle of the Bulge, and he flew in bomber planes over Germany. In fact when a crewman was killed by gunfire, the civilian Mr. Cronkite took over the .50-caliber machine gun to continue firing.

The disgraceful "patriots" who greeted Mr. Cronkite's death with jeers, are the ones satirized on "All in the Family." On the show, overfed ignorant loudmouth Archie Bunker famously used to come home from work and watch the news just to give "the pinko Cronkite" the raspberry, even if the newsman couldn't hear it. Mr. Cronkite, who enjoyed sailing as a hobby, learned to let these minor drones sail by, while he concentrated on being the influential and important man that they could never be.

Mr. Cronkite kept busy after his retirement from the evening news, and when his wife died in 2005, the elderly gent surprised gossip columnists by dating Carly Simon's older sister Joanna. In failing health over the past year, he died with his family and friends by his side. Of course at 92, his passing was not exactly unexpected, but even if it was at 82 or 72, his fans would have learned from him a stoic sense of adulthood about it, and along with the sorrow, they'd remember the phrase he used to end his broadcasts: "And that's the way it is." Nothing can change the fact of Walter Cronkite's passing, but another fact is that in broadcasting, Walter Cronkite is a legend.

Since Dylan's song is well known, and so many songs about the evening news are, too (notably Don McLean's great "Prime Time") let's go with a ballad about loss, from Joanna and Carly's sister Lucy Simon. It's from Lucy's solo album "Stolen Time." Most of the songs on that one feature her music with lyrics supplied by Jonathan Schwartz or Carole Bayer Sager, but this one is all hers.

"I Want You Back" LUCY SIMON

1 comment:

Quoizel said...

He was a tv anchor Icon