The Counterculture, the Hippie Revolution

Topics: Haight-Ashbury, Hippie, San Francisco Pages: 7 (2476 words) Published: May 11, 2011
“All across the nation such a strange vibration, people in motion. There’s a whole generation with a new explanation, people in motion, people in motion. For those who come to San Francisco, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair. If you come to San Francisco, summertime will be a love-in there” (McKenzie). “At no other time in history of American culture has the creativity of the whole younger generation been called into play” (Chambers 72). From the love festivals to the Vietnam War protests, from the discovery of the subconscious mind through drugs to the peace rallies, music succeeded in encompassing the spirit of the people in this decade. This generation of flower children questioned the principles and practices of American society at that time. The term “hippie” was brought about my Herb Caen of the San Francisco Chronicle. This name came to describe a cultural movement and a new way of life. In an article titled “The Hippies: The Philosophy of a Subculture,” the following word portray the central beliefs behind this counterculture movement… “Do your own thing, wherever you have to do it and whenever you want. Drop out. Leave society as you have known it. Leave it utterly. Blow the mind of every straight person you can reach. Turn them on, if not to drugs then to beauty, love, honesty, and fun” (Marty 125). Music influenced many people and changed their views of the country. Music itself was at the core of this revolution and helped spread the hippie culture across the United States.

Much of the revolution started with college students; the student protest movement began at Berkley University near San Francisco. Not only did these students protest the Vietnam War, but also the educational system and environmental pollution. There were many marches and demonstrations, vigils in public places and at government installations. Although the hippies appeared very critical of society and its shortcomings, a crucial component to the hippie principles was an overwhelming optimism and appreciation for mankind, the world and what the world had to offer (Cotter, Freedman 270-272). During this time you could be someone, an individual the sixties made room for outsiders and their ideas. The hippies rejected materialism, and power hungry America. They were antiwar. “In January of 1967 460,000 young Americans ranging in age from 19 to 23 were fighting in the war. Losses were much heavier than expected and already 2,000 had been reported dead or missing” (Chambers 75). By 1968 16,000 men had died. The antiwar movement and student protest movement caused college campuses to explode across the country. Organized open-air concerts where protests, politics, and folk rock came together helped students spread their message. As more and more young people became involved in a cause they felt strongly about, a new sound began to emerge which changed the face of music forever.

The hippies were consumed with thoughts of freedom, nature, and artistic expression. By stepping outside society the hippies were able to look objectively and see what was wrong with it; they saw what they wanted to change. They rushed to break the barriers put up by society and shattered the mold on music and art, creating a new and distinct sound. The new sound started in 1964 when the Beatles arrived in America and took the country by storm. Within two years other British bands as well as America’s own Detroit sound “Motown”, and folk-rock groups dominated the airwaves. The lyrics, melodies, and look of the new artists were different and exhilarating. The hippies who were just entering their teens when the Beatles arrived became of age when folk-rock groups began to question America through their songs. The nonconformist folk artists began to surface. They wrote songs not just on love and peace but their songs had messages, which questioned society as a whole.

One of the biggest artists who influenced the music at this time was Bob Dylan, “Between 1963 and...
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