What was the Super Bowl ad that stopped you in your tracks? What was the one that sent a chill up your spine? What was the one you wanted to see again the instant it was over?
It was this one, of course. Paul Harvey, talking about farmers:
The audio is from a speech called “So God Made a Farmer,” delivered in the 1970s. The Super Bowl ad was for Dodge Ram trucks. But what sold ’em was Harvey, the radio broadcaster who lived from 1918 to 2009, whose AM radio broadcasts were characterized by homespun stories, corny jokes, and a brand of conservatism that was (most of the time) more benign than the kind you get from Rush Limbaugh or Michael Savage.
As I wrote on this blog when he died:
“My parents used to listen to his mixture of news and anecdote every day, and when I was a child I became transfixed by Harvey’s rumbling-deep voice and strikingly unique phrasing. He’d pause in the middle of sentences for dramatic effect. He’d rush to the end of a story, pause for so long you thought the radio had gone dead, and then you’d suddenly hear him bark in mock-triumph, “Page two!”… his term for changing the subject, and off he was, onto another story, or to a commercial whose copy he read himself and promoted personally.Harvey belonged to the pre-TV generation, but lasted well into the Internet age. In recent years, I would hear him only on car trips, around noon wherever I was, on the AM radio dial. He had the gift of making it seem as though he was talking only to you. “Hello, Americans!” he’d greet you merrily: Patriotism never sounded so much fun.”
(Or, as I subsequently learned, sometimes not so much fun: Harvey was a chum of Joe McCarthy’s and supported his anti-Communist witch-hunts.)
But on this Super Bowl Sunday, let’s set aside the politics and appreciate what poetry a great radio voice can do when it runs beneath televised images. That was one helluva TV spot.
UPDATE: Slate.com says the ad derived from a 2011 ad from Farms.com:
For more: Paul Harvey: ‘Good day!’