Music and the Counterculture
Even popular music groups in Saigon began to perform the latest rock hits. The fusion of American music with Vietnamese bands was exactly what the event was all about; peace, love, and rock ‘n’ roll. There were American bands that were making popular music prior to 1 965 such as Bob Dylan, Joan Base, Janis Joplin, the Byrd, and others. These artists began to make music that protested the poor choices the government was making about handling the major events in America and the world. The Civil Rights Movement was still going on and tensions were rising.
In 1 963, a major campaign was being held in Birmingham, Alabama where there were nonviolent protestors on one hand and police with clubs, fire hoses, and dogs on the other. Seeing these events, the movement really gained support from hose sympathetic to their cause. 5 However, this is just one example of police brutality on a harmless crowd. Dylan wrote an album called, “Times They Are a-changing” in which he writes Of his political views concerning segregation and unjust acts of violence and murder against African American citizens. Violence was also increasing in the Vietnam War. Credence Clearwater Revival took a personal hit when lead singer, John Foggier and drummer, Doug Clifford were drafted into the military in 1966 (however, his time in the service inspired the song “Fortunate Son” that depicted the view of the draft, which was released in 1969). The Byrd covered a song in 1 965 that was written in 1962 by Pete Serge called “Turn! Turn! Turn! ” The song talks about how there is a time and place for everything, including war and peace.
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The third verse portrays their view the best: “a time of love, a time of hate/a time of war, a time of peace/a time you may embrace/a time to refrain from embracing. “7 A lot of people already shared this belief, but this song put it into music, spreading it to those who did not see things this way. Music began to expand and bloom starting in 1964. The British Invasion began when The Beetles came over from the UK, bringing “Battlement” with hem. They not only ushered in a new type of style for the world, in clothing, hairstyles, and music, they also brought with them the obsession and fan craze they experienced in the ASK.
In the midst of Battlement, Deed Sullivan traveled to London and saw the craze firsthand in 1 963, before the Beetles came to the US. Upon his return to New York, Deed Sullivan set up a meeting with the manager for the Beetles to have them appear on the show, arranging three show appearances. 8 These appearances led to more public knowledge of the Beetles in the US, the beginning of Battlement in the US, and to the ginning of the British Invasion. A multitude of British bands followed the Beetles to the US; Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, the Who, the Zombies, the Kinks, Ten Years After, and so many more.
Different styles were brought to America and brought out different genres in American bands as well. Jefferson Airplane, the Doors, the Grateful Dead, Jim Hendrix, and others began to develop a new style of music they called “psychedelic rock” or “acid rock,” named for the influence of drugs, especially acid, and the “trip” they took while listening to the music. Pink F-Lloyd became one of these bands s well. Led Zeppelin brought in a style of”harder rock,” the Who brought in a new style of “punk rock,” in the late sixties, Black Sabbath brought “metal” to America.
While many bands were bringing in a new genre, quite a few were conforming to popular American artists’ style. The Zombies and Ten Years After started making protest/”hippie” music, the Rolling Stones were performing songs that sounded like a mixture of a Led Zeppelin-like sound and a Beetles-like sound. Some American bands took a stronger and hard rock type of sound to protest songs. Janis Joplin used her strong voice to bring rock edge to the psychedelic band Big Brother and the Holding Company.
Credence Clearwater Revival, upon the return of their band mates, began to use the harder edge to rock to write about their experiences and their view on politics. So many different sounds and styles were being played around the US, it created a musical revolution. Then, in 1967, what seemed like the pinnacle of rock at the time, the Beetles released the album SST. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band. It is said that Brian Wilson, bass-player and songwriter of the Beach Boys, “heard the album and wept”9 for he knew that the Beetles had won.
It seemed as though the intensity in music was growing as the unrest in America was growing. There were so many men that were dodging the draft. Over 200,000 were accused of draft offenses. 10 Some men went out to burn their draft papers in public, others went underground or escaped to Canada. These protests of the draft spurred many to join the hippie movement. Many disapproved of their lifestyle of sex, drugs, and peace. “Of course the hippies were always glad of chances to shock the bourgeoisie, which made them seem more depraved than they were. 1 1 All of this built up to what was called the Summer of Love in 1967. Unfortunately, the sharing of drugs and “free love” led to many disease related deaths. Hippies were easy targets for people, even though they had no material possessions. They became victims to muggings, rape, assaults, and even murder. By October of 1 967, the Summer of Love was over and many of the students returned to school. Although it wasn’t that easy to kill the lifestyle and many people moved to communes where they could live this lifestyle forever.
It seemed as though the hippie movement was dying down, but then the Et Offensive was enacted in 1 968 when the Viet Congo broke the ceasefire and ride to gain land. This broke out in a large battle into the war. Although this was a technical victory for the US (as the Viet Congo gained no territory in the attack), it was not viewed favorably by the public. National leaders had sold the war as everything but won, and this fight broke out, proving them wrong and worrying the nation. Even newscasters were shaken. Walter Coronate asked, “What the hell is going on? Hough we were winning this war. ” 1 2 Other outlets of media also printed their distrust and distaste. This unrest filtered down into the public and soon Johnson was seen as a liar and a allure. Chants by students were filling his head: “Hey, hey, LB], how many kids did you kill today? ” When Johnson announced he would not accept the nominations for a further term, people rejoiced thinking there would be an end to the bloodshed. However, that end would not come for years. The greatest culmination and example of the countercultures movement and music was the Woodstock Music festival in 1969.
The festival had high hopes of congregating everyone in the nation who believed in peace to create a new society. After long debates with the city, the people around, security, etc. Everything was finally settled and the festival was to be held in Bethel, New York. Even before it began, it was a huge mess. Staff grew from 200 to 750 as emergency personnel flocked to the festival, water and food soon on short supply, the first band was hours late because of traffic, and there were at least 300 cases involving adverse drug reactions all of whom flocked toe the medical tents. 3 Despite this, drugs were considered a fundamental part of the Woodstock experience. By day 2, between 300,000 and 1. 5 million people were at the festival-14 There’s no way to tell for sure since the getting system was proven useless. Due to the lack of space, food, and water, everyone began sharing everything, including drugs and sexual partners. But rather than responding in jealousy, many just thought of this as the ending of the old world and the beginning of a new. Rain on the third day caused problems for performers, but seemed to just fuel the crowd more.
Mel Lawrence, a Woodstock festival goers, said, “the rain created something that nothing else could’ve done. What it did was, it equalized everybody at that festival. Everybody was full of mud, everybody was wet, everybody was cold, everybody was together. Everybody experienced the same thing at the same time and had to make it work… I thank the Lord for that rain. “1 5 After much delay, the final artist (Jim Hendrix, who was supposed to play the day before but was delayed), played on Monday morning to the few thousand that remained.
When he finished, Woodstock was over. In retrospect, it was a fairly peaceful festival; there were only three deaths (one from heroin overdose, one from a burst appendix, and one from a tractor running over a man in his sleeping bag), there were 2 births, and no reported violence. Woodstock was viewed in two ways; as the peak Of the countercultures evolution that just furthered the knowledge that so many people had the same views as others, or a cultist following adjust wallowed in the cesspool created by drug-fueled hippies.
After Woodstock, the movement lost some of the most influential artists such as Janis Joplin, Jim Hendrix, Jim Morrison, and the Beetles (who broke up). Nixon was now in office, but the war was far from over. As the sixties began to end, hippie seemed to be a dying breed, but there were still some that thrived and protested through the seventies. Even today, there are still some hippies that live in the nation. The music of the enervation stayed and became an example for many, many bands to follow and also spurred the creation of other genres and sub-genres. It is impossible to imagine the ‘ass in the United States without rock ‘n’ roll. The music and now the lyrics were sometimes the backdrop but often the inspiration as well for love-ins, sit-ins, demonstrations, the destruction of draft cards, tuning in, turning on, and taking off. “16 The music of the sixties is characterized by the counterculture and vice versa. During one of the most controversial times in American history, music was there to help guide the nation through their feelings and thoughts. Bibliography Latherer, Glenn. All Shook Up: How Rock ‘n’ Roll Changed America.