Ronald Reagan's silent song that attracted thousands
The album The Wit and Wisdom of Ronald Reagan, released by Stiff Records, sold 30,000 copies of Ronald Reagan's pure and wonderful silence!
Much has been said about the power of the word, but silence is also charged with meaning when not produced by a gag - physical or legal - but by one's own will to be silent. Rabid indignation. The need to be ecological when a toxic cloud comes from too many people's mouths, especially from the powerful. Those who have a voice and use it to scream.
As John Cage proved, a silence is never silent, but it's always annoying. He proved it with his piece 4'33, making an audience of refined spectators in their swan-neck sweaters start coughing, mumble or get up from their seats because they couldn't stand hearing NOTHING, but the pulsing of blood in their temples.
But the best silence, without a doubt, the best anti-song in the world is credited to Ronald Reagan, the father of the other "Star Wars," the imaginative sportscaster who became president of the United States and dreamed up a network of military satellites equipped with science-fiction weapons while quoting movie phrases in his speeches.
In 1980, just three years before Reagan announced the Strategic Defense Initiatve (SDI) by giving his now iconic speech from the Oval Office, the record label Magic Records - actually Stiff Records, an independent British label formed by David Robinson and Jake Riviera with whom they recorded greats such as Madness or The Pogues - released a curious record entitled The Wit and Wisdom of Ronald Reagan, which contained no less than twenty minutes of silence on both sides of the record.
"If it sells, it will be magic," joked the label. They had seen the need to give some rest to the ears of Americans, tired of iron curtains, witch hunts, evil empires and a politician who surprised with his charisma, but who was often nicknamed "the Teflon president," because no scandal or criticism affected his popularity. Not even when they managed to shut him up, or did they?
The experiment, which was part of a Christmas promotion, was so successful that The Wit and Wisdom of Ronald Reagan sold 30,000 copies. "Warning: You may or may not hear something interesting on this record," you can read on the cover.
Today the album still has an audience, especially in times when the word has become a sequin. "It should be reissued as 'The Wisdom and Ingenuity of Donald Trump'... it would have the same content as this one anyway," suggested one Internet user. Actually, it's a good idea.
Of course, there have been many other sound experiments based on this kind of Buddhist emptiness. Like, for example, the pause of Afrika Bambaataa in their 1986 album Beware; or the forty seconds of apparent silence of 'She's Leaving Home', by The Beatles, in their album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, and which only dogs can hear.