Remarks at a White House Reception for Members of the Country Music Association

March 15, 1983

The President. Thank you all very much, and good evening, and welcome to the White House. And, you know, I realize that this is an anniversary occasion, but I go back with your kind of music long before the beginning of the association, when WHO, clear channel station, Des Moines, Iowa -- [laughter]. And as a matter of fact, at one point we had a program director who wasn't sympathetic to that kind of music, but the head of the company was and he wanted more of it. And I can never forget the program director slamming down the phone and then saying to those of us who were present, ``All right, I'll put two coffins of pine on the 7:29.'' [Laughter]

Seriously, since country music is one of only a very few art forms that we can claim as purely American, it is a special pleasure to welcome its brightest stars to the White House and our national home. You belong here. Your music belongs here, and I hope you agree it sounds pretty good when it bounces off these historic walls.

Someone once said that it's easier to understand a nation by listening to its music than it is by learning their language. And when you listen to country music, you hear the beauty of our wide open spaces, the emotions of a people whose hearts are as big and full as the land they live in. The country sound has become a good will ambassador for us all around the world -- through its variety, spreading an understanding of our basic values, our high spirit and determined self-reliance. And as others understand this music, they also understand and appreciate our deep-seated love of country, freedom, and God.

On behalf of all Americans, I want to congratulate the Country Music Association on its 25th anniversary, on the art form it has nurtured, and the music with which your members have enriched our lives. All America celebrates with you. And I particularly look forward to one whale of a concert at Constitution Hall. What an appropriate place to make music history with such a profoundly American tradition.

So, welcome to Washington, and happy anniversary. Thank you, and God bless you.

Mr. Marmaduke. I don't feel right standing in front of you. [Laughter]

Mr. President, Mrs. Reagan, distinguished Members of Congress, ladies and gentlemen:

On behalf of the board of directors of the Country Music Association and the artists appearing here for the 25th anniversary show, I would like to express our sincere gratitude for you hosting this marvelous reception.

Mr. President, as a memento of the show and C.M.A.'s 25th anniversary, we would like to present to you for your record collection a personally autographed album from each of the artists that'll appear on the show tomorrow night. They're too heavy to pick up, so I'm not going to try to do that. [Laughter] So, these are the two cases here.

In addition, we have a special, personal, leather-bound copy of Billboard Magazine's special issue released this week commemorating this 25th anniversary. I'm going to just pick that up -- to see that, Billboard Magazine. And if we can get rid of that -- [laughter] -- we have one more deal. [Laughter]

In addition -- thank you. [Laughter] And the last deal we have is some tour jackets embroidered with your names and with the 25th anniversary emblem. And I'm told -- I'm not too sure this is right -- if you'll put these on, they'll get you backstage anywhere you go. [Laughter]

Mrs. Reagan. Thank you very much.

Mr. Marmaduke. Thank you very much.

The President. Thank you very much. The music and -- he didn't really mean anything by Billboard. I'm having enough trouble with the press. I'd -- [laughter] -- keep Billboard on my side.

Note: The President spoke at 5:32 p.m. in the East Room.

Sam Marmaduke is cochairman of the board of directors of the association.