In 1969, CBS television fired the Smothers Brothers from their high-rated comedy variety show for being too outspoken against the Vietnam War. Among other things, they had on blacklisted guest Pete Seeger who sang “Waist Deep In The Big Muddy,” an anti-war song about a captain who orders his men into a bog despite the obvious senselessness of the command.
One morning in the first week of June, in that awful year 1968, my sister walked into my bedroom and told me that Bobby had just been shot. We looked at each other and then, as sometimes inexplicably happens in the face of overwhelming news, we involuntarily laughed in confused terror; for only two months before—almost to the day—Martin Luther King had also been assassinated. We knew then, my sister and I, even as the teenagers we were, that something was horribly, horribly wrong about the country we were growing up in.
Songwriter Dick Holler wrote a song about it, and it was sung, improbably, by the same doo-wop singer who a decade earlier had sung “Why Must I Be A Teen-ager in Love?” Looking back now, the song was perhaps overly sentimental, but when we heard it on the radio and the Smothers Brothers program a few months after the killings, it was a comfort, and it seemed that Dion was talking straight to our hearts.
Monday morning, we looked around and they were still gone.