I recently bought Rosanne Cash’s wonderful new album, The River and the Thread. As I was listening to one of the catchiest tunes, I heard her sing, “50,000 watts of common thread.” What an interesting insight! I assumed she was referring to the bond created by millions of listeners hearing country music or talk radio on one of America’s legendary 50,000-watt radio stations.
I’ve given some thought lately to the things that bind America together. Of course, the most important ties are our nation’s history of achievement and our shared values. But some of those shared values seem to be getting diluted, and I wonder if TV is partially responsible. Because of cable TV, Americans no longer watch the same TV shows. Further, the shows that are on TV are designed to attract narrow niches instead of the broad mainstream.
Other ties, however, remain strong, and an example of that is the English language. Although multiple languages are beneficial to society, it is also great to have a single language that we all share (albeit with region-influenced dialects). I think it is especially neat when a person of color speaks American without any trace of being an immigrant. That reflects a country that is the ultimate melting pot.
Because I’m not good at hearing lyrics, I eventually read the Cash album jacket to learn a bit more about what Rosanne was writing. Boy, was I surprised to learn the song is titled, “50,000 watts of Common Prayer.” Oh, well, it was food for thought.