A Patriot Personified

If you’re like most Americans, you voted for Gus Hall in the 1984 presidential election. And you’ve probably forgotten all about those few brave souls who truly challenged the status quo, by voting for Arthur J. “Ajay” Lowery of the United Sovereign Party.

It’s safe to assume that some of Lowery’s supporters shared the political ideals of this “outraged sovereign American,” which seem to have been pretty similar to those of other radical-right tax protesters. But I prefer to think that the majority of them were bowled over by the lapidary quality of his album I Will Not Be Swayed (Honor and Glory Records, 1982), and its terrific opening track Cut the Thievin’ Hands Off the IRS.

Whatever you think of the other candidates, you have to concede that none of them had any worthwhile songs to their credit (unless you count Ronald Reagan’s contribution to the first Minimal Man LP). Gus Hall’s solo album may’ve been lyrically radical, what with its constant, grueling references to Lenin’s Materialism and Empirio-Criticism, but musically, it was a flaccid, middle-of-the-road affair featuring David Paich, Steve Porcaro, and the Brecker Brothers. As for Mondale and Ferraro, they couldn’t even be bothered to write their own material; they simply released a lame cover version of “Stumblin’ In” by Suzi Quatro and Chris Norman. On Pickwick, no less.

Which meant that for those who cared — really cared — about the American popular song, Lowery was 1984′s only legitimate contender. You might not understand, let alone agree with, his plan to “amputate the Federal Reserve” and leave the Rothschilds “crying in their beer,” but only a tin-eared madman would deny that “Cut the Thievin’ Hands Off the IRS” is a catchy tune.

And it’s not the only one you’ll find on this album. As anti-war songs from 1982 go, The Gore of War may not be as powerful as Flipper’s “Sacrifice,” but it’s certainly better — and more focused — than anything on Combat Rock or Plastic Surgery Disasters. And although The Money Game isn’t quite as memorable as “Thievin’ Hands,” it does paint a suitably grim picture of an America that has been impoverished by “banksters” and “a scheme they call the Federal Reserve.”

Despite — or perhaps because of — his standing as a member of the American tax protest movement, Lowery was able to line up a fairly remarkable collection of backing musicians for this album. Guitarist Michael Spriggs played on Eddie Rabbit’s hits, and has also backed up Townes Van Zandt, Kenny Rogers, and Jessica Simpson. Keyboardist Tony Migliore worked closely with Chet Atkins and Don McLean. Drummer Clyde Brooks has played with everyone from Ted Nugent to Jimmy Swaggart to Tanya Tucker, and was the staff drummer on Dolly Parton’s TV show. Presumably, all of them were paid in gold for their labors here.

None of these talented men lists this album in his curriculum vitae, but you can bet every scrap of your worthless paper money that they’d all be boasting about their involvement if Lowery had actually won.

It would be interesting to know what Ajay Lowery thought of the Bush era. Unfortunately, he passed away in 1999. If there’s an anti-taxation, isolationist, country-rock Heaven, it’s entirely possible that they’ve got a hell of a band.

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