In the decades since 1963, John F. Kennedy’s corpse has functioned like a fallen tree, spawning a saprophytic stock market to trade on the dead president’s ever-mutating reputation. Lately, shares in JFK Inc. have been dropping, but Gaithersburg musician Dave Sharp isn’t selling off. He believes that, over the long haul, the investment he made as a child of the ’60s who believed in what Kennedy represented will recover and enhance its core value. To explain his optimism in the face of humorists’ scorn and historians’ skepticism, Sharp recorded Clinging to the Truth/Tribute to JFK, a soft-rocking collection whose central element is an unapologetic cycle of paean to Kennedy and his portfolio of lost possibilities.
Blending original songs with taped excerpts from speeches by Kennedy and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., the disk can be rightly accused of lugubriosity and portentousness, as well as knee-jerk conspiracism. But despite all this, and while recalling producer Shadow Morton’s 1968 attempt to lend gravitas to a stack of unmemorable noodlings by the Vanilla Fudge (interlacing them with the voice ofNeville Chamberlain at Munich and soundbites from other long-dead notables), Clinging also has resonance. For Sharp, the truth of his feelings outweighs the accuracies of fact and observation, and in making a case for that viewpoint, he effectively tugs the dorsal hairs of memory and speculation, particularly if they are attached to someone able to remember as if it were yesterday hearing that news flash from Dallas. Clinging to the Truth is available from Odessa Records, Box 4000, Gaithersburg, MD 20885.