The University of Pennsylvania’s Jonathan Zimmerman, writing in The Chronicle of Higher Education , says “the mostly left-wing quest for cultural purity bears an eerie echo to the right-wing fantasy of national purity, which peaked during the so-called 100-percent-American campaigns of the early 20th century.” Of Chuck Berry, Zimmerman writes: “His first big hit, ‘Maybellene,’ adapted an old melody that had been recorded by country-music performers like Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys. Berry combined the ‘hillbilly’ sound of white country with the African-American rhythm and blues that he imbibed in his native St. Louis.” For this, he was heckled in Harlem.
“ ‘It was like he whispered a dream in our ears, and then we dreamed it,’ the Elvis acolyte Bruce Springsteen once said. What was in that dream was the best of us, the best of the American dream — which by the late 20th century had become a big part of the world’s dream, too. You could declare the dream an impossible fantasy or you could accept it as a challenge, but either way, you knew going that route would cost you as much as you had in you. Reality got in the way for Elvis, just like for you and me. Still, he dreamed that dream, and more than that, he shared it with everyone else.”