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60'S Music Influence On Our Society Sixties Music and How it Reflected the Changing Times Chris Montaigne Professor Shao Rhetoric II The 1960's in the United States was a decade marred by social unrest, civil rights injustice, and violence both home and abroad. These were some of the factors that lead to a cultural revolution. The revolution attempted to diverge the fabric of American society. Teenagers were living dangerously and breaking away from the ideals that their parents held. In the process they created their own society (Burns 1990).

They were young and had the nerve to believe that they could change the world. Their leaders had lofty goals as well. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had dreams of a truly equal America. John F.

Kennedy dreamed of a young vigorous nation that would put a man on the moon. The youth wanted to live in a state of love, peace, and freedom (Gitlin 1987). Through the stormy decade of the Nineteen Sixties it seemed that popular music was at the eye of every storm (Burns 1990). During this time musicians reacted to what they saw, often the youth of the Sixties were living out lyrics and popular songs of the day (Anderson 1969). For every headline there was a song by artists such as Bob Dylan, James Brown, Aretha Franklin, The Jefferson Airplane, and The Beatles. Some remember the decade's music as a representation of the moral decline and the representation of the inappropriate ideal of the youth (Szatmary 1996).

The youth movement became the counterculture and they became hippies. The hippies preached mysticism, honesty, joy, and nonviolence (Time 7 July 1967, 4-5). Music played an intricate part in the hippie lifestyle. The music reflected the sentiment of the youth. It became an outlet for teenagers to express themselves and voice their concerns about society (Burns 1990).

Folk music was the musical choice of the youth in the early Sixties. Bob Dylan and Joan Baez were the most popular folk singers of the day. In the early sixties the union of the civil rights movements and folk music on campuses lead to the rise of folk songs called "message songs" (Szatmary 1996). Songs like "Blowin in the wind" by Bob Dylan began opening up the minds of the youth to the social problems facing America such as the civil rights movement. The Rascals "People Everywhere Just want to be Free", Joan Baez's "We shall overcome", and Dylan's "The times they are a changin'" were message songs that helped start the firestorm of politically charged music that fueled a revolution and a generation (Baggelar, Milton 1976).

Songs of the decade reached for the poetic, symbolic, and the mystical to better pinpoint the mood of the times. With the assassination of President John F. Kennedy folk music movement began to fraction. The disillusionment and shock caused by the assassination had an especially strong effect on the youth (Anderson 1996). Drug abuse became a trademark by the youth the hippie movement (Steinbeck 1971).

The use of drugs was glorified in many ways by bands like The Jefferson Airplane, The Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix, and Pink Floyd. This music became known as "acid rock" (Szatmary 1996). The music fashioned the ideas of peace and love along with it a dark trend. San Francisco was bursting with rock activity and it became the center for the hippie culture. The heart of the hippie activity was the Haight-Ashbury district (Burns 1990).

Thousands of middle class, college educated youths flocked to San Francisco to demonstrate their counter cultural beliefs. These summers began to be known as "Summers of love" (Szatmary 1996). They lived on the streets, did drugs and sat in groups strumming their guitars (Frike 1989). They wore flowers in their hair leading to the nickname "flower children" and phrase "flower power". Songs like White Rabbit by the Jefferson Airplane told the stories of their mind-altering experiences; "one pill makes you larger, and one pill makes you small, and the ones that mother gives don't do anything at all ..

remember what the doorknob said, feed your head". The Beatles wrote the song "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" as a tribute to psychedelic effects of LSD (Hertsgard 1995). The Civil Rights movement may have been the most emotionally charged movement of the Sixties (Anderson1969). The music reflected this feeling. Soul music and Motown became the driving music by the black artist who fought for equality. Songs by Aretha Franklin, Curtis Mayfield and James Brown expressed the sentiments of the times (Szatmary 1996).

When morale was down songs like Curtis Mayfield's "We are winners" and James Brown's "Say it loud, I'm black and I'm proud" provided support to the downtrodden black youth. Aretha Franklin's song "Freedom" was written after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968. It inspired the world to "think about what you are trying to do to me, think, let your mind go and let yourself be free, ooh freedom, freedom, I said freedom" (Szatmary 1996). Within forty-eight hours after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.

one hundred and thirty cities were scared by arson (Schlesinger 1968). However in Boston James Brown in a televised concert pleaded for a stop to the violence. He said "we are black, now are we together or are we aint", no rioting took place in Boston that night (VH1 200). Motown music was a great supporter for the Civil Rights Movement. Motown was the first African-American owned label. They supported peaceful integration, and recorded speeches by Martin Luther King Jr. (Szatmary 1996).

Folk music had its share of freedom songs, Dylans "Blowin in the wind" asks; "How many roads must a man walk down before you call him a man .. how many times can a man turn his head pretending he just doesn't see .. the answer my friend is blowin in the wind, the answer is blowin in the wind"(Day 1988). Rock music was building a bridge across the racial divide; black guitarist Jimi Hendrix was a star of the times and the main attraction at the Woodstock music festival (Woodstock 1969). The feminist movement also surged during the Nineteen Sixties. Inspired by singers like the Supremes, Aretha Franklin, Grace Slick of the Jefferson Airplane, and Janis Joplin women all over the United States began to fight for equality (Burns 1990).

Franklin's song "Respect", which simply asks for a little respect, is an example of how the women felt (Szatmary 1996). Janis Joplin made a political statement every time she went on stage. She held nothing back during her performances. Her stage presence was just as strong if not stronger than the male stars of the day (Szatmary 1996). Protests and demonstrations were the order of the day (Burns 1990).

Musicians often attended these protest and their songs illustrate this. The Rolling Stones song "Street fighting man" is inspired by the protests taking place in London that Stones singer Mick Jagger had attended. "Every where I go I hear the sound of marching charging feet" Jagger says. True to his words, protests were held all over the world from places Paris to Mexico City (Anderson 1969). The Beatles song "Helter Skelter" also reflected on the madness that could and usually occurred when the demonstrations turned violent and deadly (Hertsgard 1995). Smokey Robinson also felt that the demonstrations were a strong force of change, in his song "Get Ready" it says "people get ready for the trains a coming" (Szatmary 1996).

The Chambers Brothers drew the line in the sand and summed up the protest movement by saying "The time has come today, young hearts must go their way, can't put it off another day" (Szatmary 1996). In 1968 the Beatles released a double album called the white album. On that album there is a song called "Revolution". John Lennon wrote the song not as a call to arms but as personal statement to the demonstrators saying "'so you say you want a revolution, well you know, we all want to change the world .. when you talk about destruction brother you can count me out ..

you better free your mind instead" (Hertsgard 1995). The Anti-war movement was the most recognized aspect of the Sixties. Hippies preached anti-violence and coined the phrase "make love not war" (Burns 1990). All men ages 18-25 were forced to register for the draft. The Vietnam War was like nothing America had seen before, with ninety percent of the troops ages 19-23 (Gitlin 1987). The anti-war sentiment was strong both home and in Vietnam, and music was at the heart of the movement. The soldiers would listen to anti-war songs and protest songs while they were fighting in the conflict (Szatmary 1996).

The feeling among the youth was that America was murdering innocent people for an unknown reason. Country Joe and the Fish's song "I feel like I am fixing to die rag" capture the attitude. "come on all you big strong men, uncle sam needs your help again, got himself in a terrible jam, way down yonder in Vietnam, put down your books pick up a gun, whoopee we're gonna have a whole lot of fun, and its one, two, three what are we fighting for?, don't ask me I don't give a damn, next stop is Vietnam, whoopee we are all gonna die" Dylan's song "The times they are a changing" has lyrics that "gave a warning to authority that America was experiencing a new consciousness, and that the establishment (government) have to face the opposition of much of the population, especially the young" (Day 1988). Many songs implied what life was like in Vietnam like Hendix's "Purple Haze", the illusion that appeared in the landing zones for helicopters in Vietnam. Along with the rebellion at home the soldiers staged their own form of rebellion.

A static from 1967 states that more American troops were arrested for smoking marijuana than for any other major crime (Steinbeck 1971). The soldiers even had their own bandit radio stations. This was because the Armed Forces Vietnam Network was heavily censored and screened out the anti-war songs. On the rebel radio stations soldiers on the front lines could talk to men like "midnight Jack" and have songs played to them (Szatmary 1996). The war was also racially biased which many arists expressed in their songs.

Jimi Hendrix's released a song titled "If 6 was 9" that describes his oppression. It says "White collared conservative flashing down the street, pointing their finger at me, they're hoping soon my kind will drop and die .. go on Mr. Buisniness man, you can't dress like me" (Szatmary1996). John Foggerty also sung about his days in the army.

In his song "Fortunate son" he talks about the racial divide along with the divide amongs the rich whites and poor white. He says "some folks inherit star spangled eyes, and they will send you down to war, and when you ask them how much should we give, they only answer more, more, more" (Szatmary 1996). No movement in our history defines a cultural change more accurately than the hippie movement in the 1960's. Music provided a support during the turbulent times of the Sixties. It stood firmly while the smoke from the devastation in Vietnam hung menacingly over America. It remained a support throughout the anti-war movement and civil rights movement, which deeply involved the young.

They rebelled against society whose morals they held in disdain (Burns 1990). They symbolized the universal need for love and harmony. Finding an outlet in music, the created songs that expressed their need for personal freedom and societal peace- crying out "Give peace a chance" (Hertsgard 1995). In the end, even if the music only had a glancing impact on the dynamic events of the decade its legacy lingers in the hearts and minds of a generation (Burns 1990). Music.

Related: american society, folk music, music, popular music, rock music, woodstock music

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