The Corner


Sounds of Freedom

Chris Stapleton performs at the CMT Music Awards show in Nashville, Tenn., June 6, 2018. (Jamie Gilliam / Reuters)

In its most recent episode, The Simpsons had a wicked, funny parody concerning upstate New York (one of the most beautiful regions of the country, whatever its problems). I lead today’s Impromptus with this. Then I get into the issues of anti-Semitism, income inequality, and so on. There is a note on Josh Rosen, the QB.

Also, what do Robert Caro, the LBJ biographer, and Richard Wagner, the composer, have in common? I tell you.

I thought I’d publish a little mail. A couple of days ago, I had some reflections on “one America,” E pluribus unum, the melting pot, and all that old-fashioned jazz. A reader says,

I took a Lyft to my job on campus yesterday. The driver was from the West African country of Benin (he told me).

He was in a particularly jubilant mood, and had the car’s radio turned up to WXTU, which is Philadelphia’s country-western music station (yes, we have one).

Curious, I asked him why he was in such a good mood and why he enjoyed this music.

He told me that he recently passed his U.S. citizenship exam — and that he loved listening to country-western music over the Internet where he grew up because it represented freedom, and that he always dreamed of listening to it on a regular radio station once he got to America.

I gently commented that country-western music was about as American as it gets.

He looked at me in the rearview mirror and cheerfully replied, with a big smile, “Yes, I know. And now I am, too!”

Kind of gives you hope, no?


In recent days, I’ve mentioned The Stand, the novel by Stephen King. I know some people who have read it over and over. That is a helluva tribute to a book.

A reader of ours now writes,

I return to the entire Hornblower series by C. S. Forester every ten years or so, having first devoured the novels in my teens. I am 71 now. There are other favorites I return to on occasion as well …

Wow. (I hope I don’t get so bloggy and tweety, I’m incapable of reading books.)

Finally, I referred to myself, in an earlier column, as a “Gramm cracker” — a fan and supporter of Senator Phil Gramm, back in the day. A witty and and learned reader writes, “Or were you a crack Grammer?” Well, either way …

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