- Album name: Voices of the Presidents
- Group name: Various
- Year: 1967
- Number of discs: one
- Label: Lexington
- Collection: Brenner / Gessner
- Distinguishing characteristics:
- Library checkout card (album front): RICHARD MONTGOMERY HIGH SCHOOL / INSTRUCTIONAL MATERIALS CENTER / ROCKVILLE, MARYLAND
- Sticker (album front): 973.9 / VOI
- Barcode sticker (album back): LE 7711 / MONTGOMERY COUNTY PUBLIC SCHS / T 512825
- Handwritten in marker (album back): RICHARD MONTGOMERY H. S. / R 366
- Sticker (LP side one): RICHARD MONTGOMERY HIGH SCHOOL / ROCKVILLE, MARYLAND
- Sticker (LP side one): 973.9 / VOI
- Who owned it: this is a bit of a mystery. My brother (1998-2002) and I (1995-1999) attended Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville, Maryland. I certainly never removed this record from the school library, and I hypothesize that he might have taken it, possibly when they were clearing out their record collection because nobody was listening to records by then. But he denies having any knowledge of it, as does our mother. Curious!
- Buy it on Discogs: $6.00
Level of familiarity before listening
I’m familiar with the presidents, and even know them in order from the first to the forty-sixth, plus their political party affiliations and home states, but I’ve never listened to this record before.
What I expected
This appears to be a series of recordings of speeches by the eleven presidents from Theodore Roosevelt (26, NY-Republican) to Lyndon Johnson (36, TX-Democrat).
What it was actually like
Much of what I think about these speeches is already covered by what I wrote three months ago when I reviewed I Can Hear It Now / The Sixties.
We all learned the apocryphal story of Abraham Lincoln (16, KY-Republican) writing his Gettysburg Address on the back of an envelope while taking the train from Washington, DC, to the Pennsylvania battlefield. That didn’t happen, but Lincoln did write that speech, and those were his own words. What president in my lifetime has ever been known to compose his own speech, in his own words, and then deliver it as written?
So I guess the most important thing to note again is that XIX century presidents wrote their own speeches and it would have been considered absolutely preposterous and profoundly unethical if an American candidate for high political office back then were to stand for election and recite some other man’s words as if they were his own. That has not been a feature of XX century or XXI century American political life, however, and it says a lot about the quality of these professional actors who get elevated to positions of power.
The least charismatic of these speeches was probably the memorial address by Warren Harding (29, OH-Republican), and the anti-war speech by Herbert Hoover (31, IA-Republican) was relatively compelling.
Also, the John Kennedy (35, MA-Democrat) line, “Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate,” is just asinine enough that it could have been uttered by David Ben-Gurion.
1/5: horrible enough that I couldn’t make it through
|↑1||Donald Trump (45, NY-Republican) mouthing off via twitter, and then quoting his own tweets at one of his rallies, does not count.|