The FarmAid Concert only managednto raise about $10 million, but thenreverberations of the event may reachnfar beyond the bottom line, fartherneven than American farm policy.nWeeks after the event, impressions linger:nMerle Haggard, who assured thenmore than 70,000 people in the audiencenthat the concert was only thenbeginning; Emmylou Harris, whosensinging and physical presence are almostnenough to reassure us that Americannwomanhood can never go entirelynbad—the blood is too good; Tom Pettyn& the Heartbreakers backing up BobnDylan; Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash,nand Waylon Jennings together again.nIt was almost heartwarming to see ol’nWaylon, 20 pounds heavier and lookingn20 years younger.nCharlie Daniels may have providednthe high spot of the all-day concert.nFor years, Charlie has been thumbingnhis nose at the anti-American elitesnand, in his own strange way, pointingnto the goodness at the center. He hasnsung about Vietnam (“Still in Saigon”),nfreedom (“You Can Leave ThisnLong-Haired Country Boy Alone”),nand even his native state (“Carolina”).nNow, just in time, he has a song fornthe American farmer in which he alsonmanages to condemn technologyntransfer to the Soviets. Politics? AsnCharlie summed it up, politiciansnhave had their chance, and they blewnit “in one of the biggest screw-upsnsince we let Russia stay in Berlin.”nMore remarkably, he threatened that ifneven one dollar got into the hands ofnpoliticians, he would never do anothernconcert like this again.nThis is not to say there was nonpoliticking going on. Neil Young, whonalong with Dylan represented the badnold days of the 60’s, campaigned fornthe Harkin bill and contributed a letternwarning against the peril of Americannagriculture swamping and destroyingnnative farming all over the world. Henhad a point: no nation, certainly notnthe U.S., can afford to become thatnCULTURAL REVOLUTIONSndependent on international marketsnfor its food. Unintentionally, NeilnYoung provided the most amusing fewnmoments, when he invited WaylonnJennings to join him in an authenticncountry song. Poor Waylon stoodnthere, thumbs in belt, with an expressionnof something like amused indulgencenfor this rocker trying to be a realnAmerican,nAfter all the hype and excitementndie down, a number of impressionsnbegin to crystallize into a thesis. Thenfact is that a large number of the songsnsung were tributes, of a sort, to America.nWaylon’s “America,” Alabama’sn”40-Hour Week,” Charlie Daniels’n”American Farmer” are all aimed at anpopulist rediscovery of the Americannexperience. When you throw in MerlenHaggard, Bob Dylan, Billy Joel, andn—strange to say—Tom Petty (a top 40nrocker, pure and simple), it almostnamounts to a movement.nThe one real jarring note was thenpresence of John Cougar Mellencamp,nwhose “Pink Houses” is thenmost effective protest song ever writtennagainst bourgeois American life. Whatnin the world was he doing in thisncrowd, prancing around like an androgynousnJim Morrison? The weirdestnpart was his evident happiness to benthere and his enthusiastic support fornthe entire project. It can’t be thenvisibility—Cougar is one of the richestnsingers in the business. In an interviewnthe next day, Mr. Mellencamp providednthe clue. He remarked on how goodnthe concert made people feel aboutnthemselves and added that he nevernwanted to make music that didn’t haventhat effect.nWatching the concert took me backnto other similar events—not Live Aidnso much as folk festivals in the 60’snand, of course, Woodstock. Even fairlyndecent human beings back thennfound themselves caught up in annanh-American fervor which seemednlike the wave of the future. But here innChampaign, Illinois, the stage wasndecorated with an American flag motifn—even the title was symbolic: Farm-nAid, a Concert for America.nReal revolutions are made in thenheart, not on the streets or in politicalnmeetings. If country and rock musiciansnbecome sincere in their desire tonexpress the heart of America, it willnmean more good than all the fundsnthey will ever raise, more good evennthan if the earth should open up andnswallow the entire Federal bureauc­nracy.nnnPoetry is out, politics is in at thenModern Language Association thesendays. According to a recent article innthe Boston Review, a publication subsidizednby the National Endowment ofnthe Arts and the Massachusetts Councilnon the Arts, “a new political ethosn… is emerging at the heart of literarynstudy” as practiced by members of thenMLA, now celebrating its 100th anniversary.nA “new guard,” reports thenenthusiastic BR author, is “puttingnliterary study on a new course,none that is distinctly more politicalnand engaged than the traditionalnapproach,”nThose attending MLA conventionsnnow spend less time on subjects liken”Samuel Johnson and Scriptural Tradition”nor “Shakespeare and New Criticism”nand instead are filing into sessionsndevoted to “Power and Gender innthe Western Epic” and “Representativesnof Colonization: Class, Race,nGender, and the Fate of the Humanities.”nNew subsidiary organizationsnsuch as “The Marxist Literary Group”nand “The Gay Caucus” have emergednto subvert the “prevailing patriarchalnbourgeois view of the world.” Thennewest critical theory is valued notnbecause it illuminates classic texts butnbecause it has “progressive politicalnimplications . . . [and] disables thensort of blind faith a Reagan requires tonthrive,” This may mean “getting awaynfrom literature,” but it also meansnccnDECEMBER 1985 / 3Sn