60s Politics and Woodstock

Topics: Rock music, Bob Dylan, Jefferson Airplane Pages: 9 (3323 words) Published: December 9, 2005
Lyrics and Political Persuasions

"Look what's happening out in the streets!" What better line to characterize the feeling of the Americans throughout the chaos and turmoil of one of the most memorable decades in United States history, than this quote in the Jefferson Airplane song "Volunteers?" The people of the time were utterly awestricken by the horrors they were being forced to endure, and they decided they would do the best they could to publicize their total disgust for the United States' approach to its people. The 1960's was a decade to remember, a decade that drastically changed the lifestyles of so many people in the Western World. Not only were the people's lifestyles changing, but their country and government were enduring various drastic and permanent transformations. Politics, ways of living, and beliefs were among the most prominent elements of change in the United States.

During this time of optimism, a "youth revolution" took place in dress, music, and values, and as a result, accepted ideas about sex, politics and religion were challenged. While at some points they tried to stray away from all the politics, many of these young people took lead roles in a great deal of the political turmoil that swept over much of the world. This political conflict often ended in violence, which was a growing and disturbing issue of the 60's. Another social aspect that coincides with the 60's is the many civil rights movements and protests. By 1960, many people hoped and prayed for the equality of races in America, but still, as 1960 began, Jim Crow remained the law of the land. As a result of mass frustration, groups like the Black Panthers along with leaders such as Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. decided to step out in society and defend what they knew was right.

During that "youth revolution," many other changes were brought about, including the change from the happy and colorful "swinging" aspect of the early 60's to the new mood of the hippies in the later 60's. These hippies rejected society's values and took part in rebellious activities. Such as "dropping out" and refusing to take part in the "rat race" for jobs and money. This group of youths referred to as hippies developed a whole new "counter-culture," which included a minority of the "fake" hippies who basically saw the "counter-culture" as a fashion rather than something they truly believed in. The group of hippies proclaimed itself an "alternative society," and favored very simple and communal living which included free experimentation with drugs, free experimentation of sex, and a strong commitment to "peace and love." These political and social changes such as the civil rights movements and the new "counter-culture" had lasting effects on one specific element of the decade: rock and roll music. Rock and roll musicians were not much different from any other Americans in that they were forced to go through the same hardships as the rest of the people, such as racial discrimination and unjust government, or Establishment. The main difference is that many of the "regular people" of society did not have the same opportunity to express their feelings with the world. The frustration with racism and prejudice was completely obvious in many acts due to the genre's increasing aggression and hostility. Also, the country's cry for peace and love was exemplified no better than by rock musicians on stage. In their search for something different, the youth and rock musicians attempted to find a path leading them away from their problems and the country's problems. When the "counter-culture" was first introduced to the public of America, the older generations thought it was the worst possible thing that could happen to the country. But, in persevering through the hard times during the many civil rights movements and the tolerance of the "counter-culture," rock and roll was able to prove to the country that it could and would...

Cited: Marsh, Dave and John Swenson. ed. The Rolling Stone Record Guide. New York: Random House , 1979.
Harris, Nathaniel. The Sixties. London: Macdonald Education Ltd., 1975.
Cavan, Sherry. Hippies Of The Haight. St.Louis: New Critics Press, Inc.,
Stern, Jane and Michael. Sixties People. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.,
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