You need to pay attention to the lyrics of this song, for words like these have not been directed toward American youth for close to 60 years. The Vietnam War changed the message altogether.
I was a senior in high school and belonged to a folk music group, and we were quite popular my senior year, even being asked to play before a large group at Eastern Kentucky University a month or two before JFK was shot.
A lot of things changed then, and folk music was one. Bob Dylan was known more for his lyrics than his voice. And Judy Collins was known more for her voice than her lyrics. I had song books and knew that Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie were better known in Greenwich Village than in the LP stacks at the record store.
Then came Vietnam (1964) and the draft, and a lot of involuntary servitudes for the next decade or so. So then, pop music was a mixed bag, since soldiers wanted to listen to what was popular back home, but the military offered a more narrow selection on its Armed Services radio overseas. And we only had one radio station overseas (I was in Japan, 1972-1975) so never listened to it, since we could buy LP’s at the PX, and only one English speaking TV station, which presented old sit-coms from the 50s, such as “Amos n’ Andy” and dramas such as Westinghouse Theater and comedy stage acts such as Milton Berle. (This allowed me to catch up on reading novels.)
But my oldest son got a full dose of Japanese cartoon heroes, which is also where he learned a surprising amount of the Japanese language.
But folk music was a different genre, for it was attacked what was known in those days by the upper class music buff, with poetry by Dylan, Seeger and Guthrie…which was very good in its own right, but more likely enjoyed over a joint than a beer.
But the Kingston Trio owned the folk music “mass market”, even becoming the music spokesmen for 7-Up for a few years, which should put the role of Dylan Mulvaney pimping Bud Light into a totally different light today.
The Kingston Trio celebrated the common man, and his middle class cultural preference for freedom, lasting until JFK was shot and the Vietnam War followed…
…and in several songs.
This song is a celebration of Freedom, if you’ve bothered to listen. And it’s not the Trio’s only song that leans in that direction. And in their minds, the map to that “road to Freedom” was found in John Kennedy’s coat pocket….which was a different kind of “liberalism” that we know now.
It’s been my experience that 1965 “liberals” were a totally different animal than today, and it was first the rise of LBJ, and from the way they “managed” race relations, denying blacks their open road to freedom. Newt Gingrich was a “liberal” in 1976, and I was an environmental liberal that year as well, until Nancy Pelosi and others high-jacked the ’76 Convention, handing the nomination to Jimmy Carter, with the same sort of deal offered to Joe Biden in 2020. I ceased being a liberal when columnist Mary McGrory stated that “modern liberalism” stood for the proposition that ALL human conduct stood accountable to the political process. That happened in 1976, my last year of active duty, and I tore up my liberal card.
So, yes, maybe this is what threatened the government establishment, maybe changing the world b opening a can of “freedom virus.”
At least at 17, we did, we sang that song.