The Music And Times Of A Generation
The Sixties were an exciting and revolutionary period of time with great social and cultural change. Some called it the “Decade of Discontent,” mainly because of race riots and protests throughout America (Smith 1999). Others, contrarily, called it the decade of “Peace, Love, and Harmony” because of the flower children and hippie movement. The sixties were about civil rights and peace marches, sexual freedom, drug experimentation, and a presidential assassination. All of these different social components came together to influence one of the most defining features of the 60’s, the music. From acid rock to soul, folk to Motown, and everything in between; the 60’s was a decade of diverse and interesting musical styles that signified a changing world. This essay will explore the development of pop music in the sixties, through it’s different genres, and attempt to show how it was integral to the civil right movement. A brief timeline of important events will serve as an adequate introduction into the decade. In 1960, four black students begin a sit-in at a segregated Woolworth’s lunch counter. A year later, in 1961, the construction of the Berlin Wall begins. John F. Kennedy becomes the 35th American president in the same year. in 1962, the American Broadcasting Company begins color telecast for only 3.5 hours a weeks. In 1963, President Kennedy is assassinated. In the same year, Congress enacts “equal pay for equal work” legislation for women. Also in 1963, Martin Luther gives his historic I Have A Dream speech. The Beatles appear on The Ed Sullivan Show, marking their first live performance on American television. Seen by an estimated 73 million viewers, the appearance becomes the catalyst for the mid-1960s "British Invasion" of American popular music. 1965, 32,000 people make the 54-mile “Freedom March" from Selma to Montgomery. Bob Dylan elicits controversy among folk purists in the same year by "going electric" at the Newport Folk Festival. (Gordon, 1999) In 1966, an interview published in The London Evening Standard quotes John Lennon as saying "We're more popular than Jesus now," eventually sparking a controversy in the United States. In 1967, Rolling Stone Magazine is founded. LSD is also declared an illegal substance by the United States government. Johnny Cash records "Live at Folsom Prison” in 1968. Also in 1968, Martin Luther King, Jr. is assassinated at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. Riots erupt in major American cities for several days afterward. In 1969, The Altamonte Free Concert is held at the Altamonte Speedway in northern California. Hosted by the Rolling Stones, it is an attempt at a "Woodstock West" and is best known for the uproar of violence that occurred, and is viewed by many as the "end of the sixties." (Gordon, 1999) On February 1, 1960 at 4:30pm, four students from the North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University sat down at the lunch counter inside the Woolworth's store at 132 South Elm Street in Greensboro, North Carolina. The men, later known as the A&T Four, attempted to ordered coffee. Following store policy, the lunch counter staff refused to serve the African American men at the "whites only" counter and the store's manager asked them to leave. The following day, more than twenty African American students joined the sit-in, the employees continued to refuse them service. On the third day, due to television coverage, more than 60 African American men and woman came to the Greensboro Woolworth store, a statement issued by the woolworth company declared, “We will abide by local customs and maintain our segregation policy.” Soon hundreds of people were joining in on the protests, not only in Greensboro but in towns across America. On July 25th 1960, amid a boycott and major drop in sales, the company abandoned their segregation policy. The original four men sat at the previously white-only bar, and ordered...
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