How did music influence culture in the 1960’s? Music can be a truly healing medicine. No matter where you are from, or what culture you are from, everyone loves music. Music is special because it taps into emotions and thoughts and has for thousands of years.
It’s a form of art, and like all other forms of art, it’s a way to express your thoughts. In this essay, I’ll first explain the history of the 1960’s, and then talk about some of the most popular bands and their influence on culture and the emergence of a counterculture that formed during this time. In the mid 1950’s the U.S. was involved in the Vietnam war to aid the French in Indo China War. President Dwight D Eisenhower sent Advisory groups to help The Republic of Vietnam against the communist in the north. The U.S.
was trying to stop the spread of communism. Later, John F. Kennedy, stationed over 15,000 U.S. troops to South Vietnam in the early sixties. Lyndon Johnson ( 36th President, 1963 to 1969) made the Great Society, which was to fight racial injustice and poverty. “But in the middle of an election campaign, Johnson decided to send more troops to the escalating war in Vietnam. It was the first televised war and by the end of the 1960’s over five hundred thousand troops would be stationed in Vietnam.
America accepted the war, at first, but eventually began to speak out against the war. Young people in particular began to rebel, calling for a society the rejected war and violence.” (Davis (5:52)) As the war continued on, and more and more soldiers were being brought home in boxes, the music became increasingly anti war. The country went through hardship after the assassination of JFK. By That time, the civil rights movement was on full throttle. “In the late 1960’s and early 1970’s something happened to a generation of young Americans that marked them forever. It was a story of war, the struggle for racial equality, and the explosion of a counter culture. It was a time when a generation rebelled, and lost its innocence.
” (Davis (2:20)) Throughout American history, music, has gotten many oppugnant people to express their thoughts and concern about something. This was especially true during the 1960’s and the Vietnam war. Rock n’ Roll was created in the 1950’s. It made new ways to look at thing and experiment with. “For it was faced with the continuing changes in the conditions of music production and distribution, due to the new technical media, as well as changes in the way music is received and had its effect. Not that most people contact with was via record, radio, and television.
Rock music was the product of the social processes which signalled a radical alteration in the social conditions of music culture. (Wicke) Bob Dylan was a popular voice in the early 1960’s, that opposed the war. He made Folk music that was connected to his political views.
While his music was not directly talking about the Vietnam War in the early 1960’s because their was no big involvement including the U.S. yet, he made songs about patriotism, nuclear weapons, and disagreement with Eisenhower Military Industrial Complex. One of his popular song was “Blowin in the wind”. It was eventually know as a popular civil rights anthem, having been played at the march in Montgomery. It was also played just hours before Dr. Martin Luther King gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, during the March in Washington.The Lyrics go like this, “Yes, and how many years can a mountain exist, Before it’s washed to the sea? Yes, and how many years can some people exist, Before they’re allowed to be free? Yes, and how many times can a man turn his head.
And pretend that he just doesn’t see? The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind. The answer is blowin’ in the wind.” -Bob Dylan (The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, 1963). This song is referring to the civil injustice that blacks endured, so you can see how it tied into the civil rights.
Another popular song of his, is called, “Like a Rolling Stone”. Bob Dylan played this at The Newport Folk Festival in 1965. This song was important to the evolution of rock because Dylan mixed two genres in one song, creating a new type of music called Folk-Rock, and this song single-handedly changed the face of rock n’ roll forever. He also wrote songs bringing light to the environment, global warming, the Rubin Carter case.
He won many awards including the Nobel Prize for poetry, an Academy Award, and a grammy the span of his career. Also played “All Along the Watchtower”, which Jimi Hendrix later made his own version of in 1969. Bob Dylan still continues making music to this day.
He latest albums name in “Triplicate” released in 2017. The Animals gave the growing counterculture a home. Thousands of young people rushed to the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood in San Francisco During the Summer of Love, which The Beatles Kicked off with their album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band in 1967. During this time, drug use was becoming increasingly common, and political protest flooded the Haight-Ashbury area. A political group called “The Diggers” were a group of hippies who gave out free food and housing for anyone.
“The Diggers gave free food out there. All you had to do was step through a square yellow frame called the “Free Frame of Reference”. It was a leaderless invitation to reinvent your own world, your own frame of reference, The Diggers basically understood that it was culture, and the premises of culture that attracted and chained people.
That’s what you had to shake up, and give new forms of living.” (Davis (9:13)) An Important date in this “protest music” was August 19th, 1969. Jimi Hendrix performed his version of “The Star Spangled Banner” at the music festival called Woodstock. Unlike folk music, which was relatively basic music, consisting of a guitar, a harmonica and someone’s voice, rock n roll was experimenting with new styles due to advances in technology, the invention of the electric guitar, and using synthesizers and other way to get different sounds though a guitar. Jimi Hendrix put his own touch on our beloved national anthem. When he played the song he used his guitar to mimic the sounds of screaming soldiers dying. Could be controversial or odd to some, but in a since, that was another way for him to acknowledge what was happening in vietnam. Woodstock was a festival where over 400,000 hippies gather up for “Three Days of Peace, and Music”.
The gathering was in upstate New York on a 600 acre farm. They sold over 100,000 tickets but so many people showed up, and forced their way through the entry gates. Worried that they couldn’t control the growing crowd, the promoters made the festival open gate, free of charge. Psychedelic drugs were popular in this time. LSD was popular commonly used by hippies. And since Woodstock was the highest point of the of the antiwar hippie movement, it was also the peak of LSD use. LSD is a hallucinogen, making you see things in bright colors and see moving objects.
Hippies believed in peace and freedom for all. Folk and rock were Heavily drug and LSD influenced music that were supposed to give a give better and enjoyable effects on someone’s scenes who was under the influence of these drugs. Hippies used these types of drugs because it opens their minds to new possibilities. I think the drug scene during this time was popular because people wanted to escape reality they were living, which was the war, along with other things happening in that time. This was the start of what would eventually be known as the War on Drugs in 1971.
The 1960’s were said, by some, to be a sinful and immoral generation that would condemn future generations to come for a very long time. Others say it was a Liberating time in American history were people of all kind experimented with new ways of living, outside of the social norm of the past. “Music in the 60’s impacted the way some americans express himself. The Twentieth century witnessed the emergence of a diverse range of musical styles and genres, each seemingly in reaction to the dominant sociopolitical concerns of the day. Even when the lyrics of songs were not overtly directed towards the description of social conditions and call to improve them, as was the characteristics of the folk music of the 60’s and 70’s, music was, and always has been shaped by the condition of a larger panorama of the socio-cultural movements.”(Smith) That Is the beautiful thing about music. Although The Civil Rights Movement, Sextual revolution, The Anti-war Movement, technology, and environmental concerns, all played an important role in the Cultural shift in this time, music just fueled the change and let people express themselves through it.
People of all kind from all around the country made different forms of art in different ways but all for the same common good. Change.Works Cited:Davis, David, and Stephen Talbot. “The Sixties – The Years That Shaped a Generation (TV) 2005. “YouTube, YouTube, 12 May 2012, https://www.youtube.
com/watch?v=mUc2eLe-ruI Meyer, Leonard B, “Chapter 1 Page 6-7.” Music, The Arts and Ideas: Patterns and Predictions In Twentieth-Century, University of Chicago Press.Smith, Nicole.
The Influences of the 60’s Psychedelic Music and Culture on Modern Society. Article Myriad, 16 Jan. 2012, http://www.articlemyriad.
com/influence-60s-psychedelic-music-culture-modern-society/Wicke Peter. “Chapter 1, pages 9-12. “Rock Music: Culture, Aesthetics Sociology, cambridge University Press, 1999PICTURE 1: martin-luther-king-jr-march.htmlPICTURE 2: http://www.trazeetravel.com/under-100/100-san-francisco.phpPICTURE 3: My Creation