To Overcome Donald Trump, We First Have to Accept That We Created Him

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore / Flickr

I shouted out, “Who killed the Kennedys?”
When after all it was you and me

That line comes toward the middle of a song played so often on classic rock radio that it has been stripped of virtually all its original significance as one of the great works of 1960s oppositional pop culture, a collision of multiple currents in politics, philosophy, sexuality and music. As usual in Rolling Stones songs, the lyrics are kind of an afterthought — as pure sonic invention, the song was and remains spectacular — and quite likely all Mick Jagger had in mind was some sophomoric pseudo-Jungian yin-yang conception. Light and darkness are sisters, we all contain good and evil, and so on. I know what the song is called, but the identity of its “narrator,” if we pretend it merits a close reading, is ambiguous: Maybe it’s Satan, maybe it’s the Other Guy. (Maybe they’re the same — mind blown.)

But it was a shocking line to deliver, more shocking than we can now perceive, in a time when the idea that a pop song could offer sardonic commentary on headline news was almost brand new. In fact, that line was inserted at the last minute; Jagger originally sang “Who killed Kennedy?” in a take of the song recorded in London on June 5, 1968. Sen. Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated the following night in Los Angeles, after winning the California Democratic…


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