Did you ever hear of such brutality?
It was used by Richard Nixon
Alger Hiss, our hero, he said so on ABC
Uniquely among the folkies on the right, Mr. Dolan vaulted himself onto national television, with spots on “The Dick Cavett Show” and “The Merv Griffin Show.” Appearing on the latter in March 1970, alongside such contemporaneous chat-show staples as Virginia Graham and Arthur Treacher, Mr. Dolan must have been surprised to find himself also booked with Abbie Hoffman, the Yippie revolutionary, and actor Mark Frechette, star of the counterculture film “Zabriskie Point.” Tempers flared backstage, and Mr. Frechette clocked Mr. Dolan in the face. “You don’t hit very hard,” he spat, defiant.
After graduating from Yale, Mr. Dolan worked in politics and journalism — and excelled at both. For his exposure of municipal corruption in the pages of the Stamford Advocate, he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize; later Mr. Dolan joined the White House speechwriting staff of President Reagan, and worked on the historic “Evil Empire” speech of 1983.
“Freedom Is A Hammer” is the latest brainchild of Bill Geerhart, an independent Cold War cultural historian whose website, Conelrad.com, zestfully explores “all things atomic.” Mr. Geerhart’s previous adventures include tracking down and debriefing Monique Corzilius, the middle-aged woman who, as a child actress, played “Daisy” in the infamous television ad released by Lyndon Johnson’s re-election campaign in 1964; and “Atomic Platters: Cold War Music from the Golden Age of Homeland Security,” a lavish box set (five CDs, one DVD) that collected kitschy songs and videos about bomb shelters and fallout performed by the likes of Fred MacMurray and Ann-Margret.
In his liner notes to “Hammer,” Mr. Geerhart brands conservative folk “hopelessly obscure” and “strangely dissonant” — precisely the attributes, one senses, that attracted him. “Heard today,” he writes, “these tunes only benefit from the distance of time and the overexposure of the folk revival hits that the conservative folk artists were attempting to answer.”
Maybe — but I doubt it. The distance of time serves chiefly, in this case, to reinforce to the latter-day listener how anachronistic these artists really were. After all, by the time of Miss Greene’s debut news conference at the Biltmore, in October 1964, the Beatles and the Dave Clark Five had already revolutionized American popular music. The Folk Revival was passe, and the tactic Schwarz and Philbrick thought they were so savvy to co-opt … had already lost its power! Indeed, a few months later, at the Newport Folk Festival, Mr. Dylan himself would famously “go electric.” Still more years would pass, with pop culture morphing and further fragmenting, before Miss Vanderlaan and Mr. Dolan would attain their minor fame.
Substantively, though — as opposed to musically — they were ahead of their time. Folk faded; conservatism surged. Did these artists play a hand in that revolution? Doubtful; too few purchased their records. Theirs was not a popular triumph but, for each of the three, a personal one: daring to pierce the New Left hegemony that ruled their day. As Mr. Geerhart notes, “They sang out when they felt the times demanded it.”
• James Rosen is Fox News’ chief Washington correspondent and the author of “The Strong Man: John Mitchell and the Secrets of Watergate.” He is at work on a book about the Beatles.