ought to individualize itself from all others preceding it. Decades of American history can be separated to represent a distinctive set of values, culture, and political ideals. The 1960’s was a decade caught between euphoric, idealistic beginnings and a discordant, violent climax. The music of this time period produced a strong counterculture which sought to influence America in a way never before experienced. The songs were the backbone of this new age; they were the tunes which the generation danced to, marched to, and got high off of. This paper will discuss the ways popular music of the 1960’s produced national awareness of the anti-war movements, led to the partialcollapse of the structure of American society, and forever changed the way current generations listen to and buy music.Order now
The songwriters of the 1960’s were rarely without inspiration. Perhaps the most powerful incentive came from the movement to end the Vietnam War. Many of the most prominent musicians of that generation aided the struggle to protest against and attempt to end the war. The most popular song to be considered an anthem against the war efforts was called “Blowin’ in the Wind,” written by Bob Dylan in 1962 while he was living in New York. The song is centered around racism and militarism, two main focal points which were principal in many early sixties protest songs (Pichaske 58). Dylan used conventional symbols to blatantly state his point; a white dove representing peace, flying cannon balls describing war and violence, and roads and seas symbolizing the hardships and struggles there would have to be with eliminating the war.
Demonstrations against the Vietnam War took place in many major cities and college campuses. While many of these demonstrations had only peaceful motives, violent methods were often used to break them up. Take for example the famous student takeover of Columbia University. Black students arguing for civil rights, and white students protesting against the Vietnam war successfully took over Hamilton Hall, the Low Library and the Dean’s office, as well as three other buildings. The Grateful Dead were smuggled onto campus and played several long sets of music while students began to set up communal living, with food generously donated by outside supporters and Harlem’s CORE (Congress of Racial Equality) Office, and hospitals run by medical students from local hospitals (Anderson 196-197). The stage was set for an unprecedented event which had never before happened, an entire campus being placed under the control of students. However, plainclothes police were called in to violently break up the students, and by May of 1968, the administration regained control. Many people were shocked that police used such violent and bloody methods to break up the resistance. The mayor of New York, John Lindsay, said that he himself believed that the measures used to regain Columbia were overly brutal and forceful (Sann 234-235). The aftermath had great implications on some of the music played at Woodstock in 1969. Joni Mitchell, for example, cried for more of these types of protests when she sang, “we’ve got to get ourselves, back to the garden.” By 1970, confrontations with student activists and armed forces had become overly violent. At Kent University of that year, National Guard forces opened fire at a group of demonstrators in Ohio’s Kent State University, killing four and injuring 9 (Encarta). These actions led to many college students jointly rebelling against sending troops to Cambodia, and an even larger number called for the impeachment of then President Nixon (Anderson 350). In 1967, in New York, roughly 3000 rioters pelted police with bottles, stones, and eggs. In this time of turmoil, Bob Dylan again wrote another song which would forever define the plights of this generation. In “The Times They Are A’Changin,” he uses metaphors, such as running water, open-eyed writers and critics, and clueless senators and congressmen. He calls for the parents of these rebellious students to not criticize them, for they can never understand the battle that their sons and daughters are fighting (Maslin 221).
Aside from the struggle to end the war in Vietnam and achieve civil rights, the generation of the 1960’s was struggling to individualize itself. The main proponent of this