The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #26401 Message #318810
Posted By: Big Mick
14-Oct-00 - 01:55 PM
Thread Name: Need Help With 60's Protest Songs
Subject: RE: Need Help With 60's Protest Songs
The music......shit, how I remember the music. It all was so confusing when we were your age. We grew up with "I like Ike", Sky King, Combat, all things American are good, of course we are always right, clean cut music and clean cut musicians. Things started going to shit in about 1963. I remember sitting with my Da in the breakfast nook when we got the word of the first US casualty in Nam. My Da was trying to explain to me what it was like to be so far from home, in a place so different...............and knowing that you are about to die. And the music started to change..........for some reason, the first one that sticks out in my mind (I was 13 in the fall of 1964) was the Eve of Destruction. There were many others but that is what comes to my mind. When we were your age, the messages from our parents were one thing, but the messages coming at us in the music over an AM radio was quite another. The music, then as now, was a powerful influence on our lives. Then in November, John Kennedy was killed. In the pathways of my memories, that began the dark times. It was like on one hand you wanted to live up to the "American Ideal" and serve your country "right or wrong", but on the other there were so many issues being raised and they made a white kid really question the environment that he was in. We had the civil rights movement going on, and it was clear that this was a valiant, justified struggle to me. We had the war going on and we had been raised to honor our country, but this was not a clear cut battle between right and wrong. In order to buy in you had to buy in to the "Domino" theory. It raised more questions than it answered. The Womens Movement kicked into high gear again, and became a force for a long time. Martin Luther King, Robert Kennedy, and Malcom X were murdered. The offshoot was that many young people began to question ALL the premises that our culture was based on. "The Establishment" became the thing that we were determined to change. Yet, because we were raised in the 50's, there was a conflict within ourselves that would hamstring our attempts to make it over in our own image. The offshoot of all this was that, while we didn't manage to change it as much as we wanted, we were able to start some balls rolling whose effects are still felt today. It is from this cauldron that most of the music that you are seeking answers on came out of, or into. The music, due to the influence that folk music had on it, was laden with symbolism. And testament to how pressing and confusing it all was for us, is that even the lighter, pop music was affected. Several of the songs you ask about where clearly meant to influence and criticize. But several are just statements on what seemed to be obvious, such as People Got to be Free. Idealism, nothing more, nothing less.
I guess the reason I have rambled on so, is that I want you to feel the enormous confusion and mixed feelings that the 60's produced on my generation. We were faced with so much, and wanted to make a difference. But then, as now, there was so much that it caused us to be confused and strike out against everything; or to withdraw into trying to make it like "it used to be". Some of us decided to focus in on specific areas where we felt we could make a difference. It is my hope that these thoughts will help you as you analyze those lyrics and the times that produced them. And if you come up some answers, let me know. I still haven't figured it out after all this time.
All the best,