Sunday, March 29, 2015
The Year That Was, The Year That Is
Those of us who were young then were a big part of those events--as participants, victims and instigators as well as observers and receivers. Those events--those arcs and moods, revelations and confusions--marked us, influenced the flow of our lives in the crucial decades of our teens and twenties, and to one degree or another determined our fates.
And as this decade of fiftieth anniversaries for various events of the 1960s, it is well to look at the context of an entire year--like 1965. There's a book about that year that centers on the music but includes other elements, called 1965: The Most Revolutionary Year in Music by Andrew Grant Jackson. The possibly inflated claim of the title notwithstanding, it suggests how much was happening.
Slate further emphasized this recently by selecting a single week from 1965, that included the recently commemorated Selma march, but also the release of Bob Dylan's Bringing It All Back Home (almost every song was great, but one side of the albums also had Dylan singing his songs backed by a rock band--and that much was revolutionary.)
There's even more about this year at the blog The '60s at 50.
This Slate article and probably the book also bring to light another aspect of remembering the 60s, which is the 60s weren't and aren't the same for everyone. Some events may unite us in a single year, but the flavor of a year for each us depended on when we got "turned on" to a particular record or musicians, book or author, etc. and what our particular enthusiasms were, as well as those of our friends.
The author's contention that "technology was the root cause underlying all the changes" may pander to today's worship of new technologies, but seems to me to be way overstated. Yes, technologies like television and some invented drugs (The Pill, LSD) played big roles, but they were not the root cause of much of anything about 1965. (It's also a stretch to call pharmacology "technology." If it is, almost everything is.) I will stipulate however that without electricity for microphones and electric guitars it certainly would have been a different year.