The Christmas decorations are up at the governor’s mansion, and Gov. Pat McCrory picked out a rockin’ theme for the library. Albums from the Rolling Stones and others adorn the mantle, and McCrory’s vinyl Led Zeppelin albums are attached to four wreaths.
This makes sense, because Led Zeppelin sang all about McCrory’s time as governor. Actually, the rock band’s interest in N.C. governors started when Democrat Mike Easley was in hot water over his travel on private planes. That’s what Zep’s “Kashmir” is about:
“Oh, I been flying. Mama, there ain’t no denyin’
I’ve been flying, ain’t no denyin’, no denyin’.”
When McCrory lost an election for the first time ever, for governor in 2008 to Bev Perdue, he sang from “Black Dog”:
“Didn’t take too long, ’fore I found out,
What people mean by down and out.”
Toward the end of her first term, though, Perdue’s popularity had sunk, and she realized it was time for her to “Ramble On”:
“But now it’s time for me to go. The autumn moon lights my way.
For now I smell the rain, and with it pain, and it’s headed my way.”
With Perdue’s departure, McCrory saw his chance and he sang from “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You”:
“Oh, I can hear it callin’ me
I said don’t you hear it callin’ me the way it used to do?”
Still, his wife, Ann, was hesitant about the bright public spotlight, so he sang “What Is and What Should Never Be” to her:
“And if I say to you tomorrow,
Take my hand child, come with me.
It’s to a castle I will take you,
Where what’s to be they say will be.”
Once he got in office, though, things weren’t always smooth. Late at night, staffers could hear McCrory playing “Good Times Bad Times”:
“No matter how I try, I find my way into the same old jam.
Good times, bad times, you know I had my share.”
Moral Monday protests dominated much of his first year in office. At one point, McCrory said he had gone out and mingled with the protesters, like in “Misty Mountain Hop”:
“Walkin’ in the park just the other day, baby,
What do you, what do you think I saw?
Crowds of people sitting on the grass with flowers in their hair said,
‘Hey, boy, do you wanna score?’
And you know how it is;
I really don’t know, what time it was,
So I asked them if I could stay a while.”
Observer reporter Tim Funk, who was arrested while covering the protests, takes it from there:
“Just then a policeman stepped up to me and asked us said,
‘Please, hey, would we care to all get in line, get in line.”
McCrory complained to his advisers: Those protesters don’t understand how Berger and Tillis are squeezing me:
“Folk down there really don’t care, really don’t care, don’t care, really don’t,
Which, which way the pressure lies.”
When Duke Energy’s pipe burst and spewed coal ash into the Dan River, McCrory pulled out Led Zeppelin IV and played “When the Levee Breaks”:
“Cryin’ won’t help you, prayin’ won’t do you no good,
Now, cryin’ won’t help you, prayin’ won’t do you no good.
When the levee breaks, mama you got to move.
When the levee breaks, I’ll have no place to stay.”
Moderates who long thought McCrory was one of them were disappointed with his rightward turn and sang to him from “Fool in the Rain”:
“ And you said you would always be true;
You swore that you never would leave me, baby.
Whatever happened to you?”
The media’s inability to get what McCrory is saying sends him up the wall. He was heard singing “Communication Breakdown” to Art Pope:
“Communication breakdown, it’s always the same,
I’m having a nervous breakdown, drive me insane!”
It’s a love-hate thing with the press, though, and McCrory sometimes sings “D’yer Mak’er” to reporters:
“When I read the letter you sent me, it made me mad, mad, mad.
When I read the news that it broke, it made me sad, sad, sad.
But I still love you so, and I can’t let you go.”
McCrory is already making plans for 2016. He sits with his campaign gurus and recites the intro of “The Ocean”:
“We’ve done four already but now we’re steady
And then they went: One, two, three, four.”
If McCrory wants a second term, he’ll need to steer a more moderate course. He hasn’t done it so far. But as Robert Plant sang in “Stairway to Heaven”:
“Yes, there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run,
There’s still time to change the road you’re on.”