The Americans and the British have not always seen eye to eye—neither in war nor wardrobe. In fact, during World War II the U.S. and British commands had such a terrible time communicating with one another that in 1943 they commissioned anthropologist Margaret Mead to determine why. The Americans complained that the British were secretive and unfriendly; the British insisted that the Americans were simpleminded and boastful. The allies argued about everything.
Mead discovered that the two cultures possessed fundamentally different world views. One simple way to demonstrate this was to ask an Englishman and an American a single question: What’s your favorite color? American servicemen quickly came up with a color, but the British asked, “Favorite color for what? A flower? A necktie?”
Mead concluded that Americans, raised in a melting pot, learned to seek a simple common denominator. To the British, this came across as unsophisticated. Conversely, the class-conscious British insisted on complex categories, each with its own set of values. Americans interpreted this tendency to subdivide as furtiveness. (After all, a person who can’t name a favorite color must be hiding something.) “The British show an unwillingness to make comparisons,” Mead wrote. “Each object is thought of as having a most complex set of qualities, and color is merely a quality of an object.”
The allies eventually overcame their differences and rallied to defeat Hitler, but for decades afterward you could see Mead’s revelations reflected in the men’s fashions of Britain and America. For Yanks what mattered was an overall “look.” An American boy learned from his father, his schoolmates and ads for Hickey Freeman suits that the goal was to combine elements that complemented one another: the tie goes with the jacket, the shoes go with the belt. To the British, on the other hand, what mattered more than the whole was its parts. Where a postwar American male might have been neatly described as “the man in the gray flannel suit,” an Englishman of the same era was “the man in the gray flannel suit—also wearing plaid socks, a striped shirt, paisley tie and checked jacket with a floral handkerchief in the pocket.”
"Georgia on My Mind," The Band. Live on SNL, 1976. About two weeks before The Last Waltz concert. One of their two career TV appearances. Freshly ripped from a DVD and not available anywhere else. Simply put, the most soulful vocal I’ve ever heard from a white guy. Richard Manuel is a god.