With cynicism and disillusionment increasingly pervading the American consciousness thanks to shifty politicians, racial divisiveness, spiraling gun violence, and ever more dire reports about climate change, Americans are having a harder time than ever believing that everything is going to be all right - except when they hear it in a song.
"Things are generally not looking good," said Elizabeth Brassman of Dickson County, Tennessee, where the Ku Klux Klan recently hosted a conference in Montgomery Bell State Park, security for which was paid for with Tennessee public funds. "The KKK could've been planning the next Charlottesville right in my own back yard."
Nevertheless, Elizabeth stated that any time she hears some old blues or country singer in a Nashville hole-in-the-wall croon, "Everything's gonna be all right," she somehow believes it. "It's not logical, but it works better than Xoloft," she said. "Which I know because all my friends are on it."
Bart Lipscomb of Newark, New Jersey, a lifelong Bruce Springsteen fan, feels the same way. "I'm an environmental scientist, and it's clear to me our time is running out," he said, his expression grim. "But when I hear Springsteen tell me it's gonna be all right, I just know that it's true. The Boss wouldn't lie to me."
Social psychologist Cameron Bent noted that, like many songs, organized religions, too, promise that everything is going to be all right - if not now, then in the hereafter.
"But people are starting to question those reassurances when they're coming from the same people who tell them evolution isn't real, and that their savior was born to a woman who never had sex but was somehow impregnated without her consent," said Bent. "It just doesn't make sense to them any more."
Bent acknowledged that the message that everything is going to be all right, of course makes no more sense in the form of a song lyric than it does coming from an organized religion.
"But, for whatever reason," he said, "they're willing to suspend their disbelief when they hear it in a song. I guess you could say people still have faith in music."