Let it be said that I had this, at least, in common with Johnny Thunders: we both supported Jesse Jackson’s candidacy in 1988. I was just starting the fourth grade, and Johnny was getting ready to graduate from the planet Earth, but we were both willing to forgive Jackson’s offensive characterization of NYC as “Hymietown” and his prudish condemnations of “sex-rock.”
This video of Thunders’ impassioned plea to the American soul comes from September 4, 1988, the last day of the Hotpoint festival in Lausanne, Switzerland. The DNC had come and gone, with Bill Clinton’s windy nomination and Michael Dukakis’ narcotizing acceptance speech. No matter: Johnny Thunders still liked Jackson’s chances, and if he was discouraged by Dukakis’ nomination or Bush’s subsequent election, he gave no sign. He kept “Glory, Glory” in the set in 1989, and when he entered the studio in 1990, Thunders was still stumping for the Rev.
Here, weeks before the first broadcast of the Willie Horton ad, Johnny Thunders sounds like a schoolboy telling the Swiss festival crowd why he’s for Jesse Jackson. Then he “takes them to church”:
Okay! Well, I’m from America, and we’re having a presidental—presidential election. And I think, uh, the only person that I think is worthy of being a president of America is Jesse.
Oh, Jesse, Jesse Jackson!
Ooh, Jesse, Jesse, Jesse! etc.
The sound is terrible for the first minute and a half. It could be the tape, but to me it seems like the sound guy is still futzing with the levels. Johnny Thunders steps to the mike at 2:05.