There have been many songs about JFK. I suspect the first official release was Frank Sinatra’s version of High Hopes rerecorded to endorse Jack Kennedy in the 1960 election (Sinatra later followed the well-worn path of the successful son of immigrants, going from FDR Democrat to Nixon Republican).
Built from a great acetate mountain of tracks from the 60s onwards, Tragic Songs from the Grassy Knoll was put together by former Cramps drummer Miriam Linna, and is an amazing compilation which includes Hasil Adkin’s Memories of Kennedy.
Despite songs by the Byrds, Pearl Jam (about Kennedy’s stolen brain, post-autopsy) and Lou Reed, probably the most common song people have mentioned when we’ve said we’re recording an album about Kennedy is the song of that name by the Wedding Present. That probably says more about the company we keep.
Even our producer, dear Ian Button, has gotten in on the act – after hours of recording (and playing!) Kennedy-inspired songs for us in front of pre-recorded documentaries and films (a lot of this record was done in front of the 60s war film x, telling the story of Kennedy’s dramatic sinking, surviving and saving of his crew onboard gun boat x), Ian’s last Papernut Cambridge album included the track Umbrella Man, about one of the obscure strands often pulled by the conspiracy theorists of the Dallas shooting.
JFK inspired a lot of great music and for the last couple of years we’ve been plotting out ours – my friends, it is finally ready for release.
Kennedy is eleven tracks – not all about JFK, but also people he knew and events he lived through. There’s a whole biography of his brother Bobby. There is a track about the “secret” Kennedy sister Rosemary. There are tracks about Kennedy’s friend turned foe and foe turned friend, Nixon and LBJ respectively.
One of the most exciting things for me about this record so far is the kind words it has received from the historian Thurston Clarke. Thurston’s books, especially The Last Campaign about Bobby’s fatal run for the ’68 nomination, were a big source of inspiration for this record.
The record is available on our website and in all good record shops. Distribution is via Shellshock in the UK and Sonic Rendezvous in the Benelux.
“Although I’ve written three books about John and Robert Kennedy these marvelous, insightful lyrics illuminated aspects for their lives and characters that had previously escaped me. Congratulations on creating a moving tribute to these extraordinary men that deserves a wide audience.” Thurston Clarke.
There are details on our newly JFKed website on how to get a copy – it comes with great artwork by the great anarchist illustrator Clifford Harper on the outside and Nathan Brenville on the inside.