A Conversation for The 1960s - an Introduction

The Music

Post 1


What a lot of people tend not to take into account is how innately conservative the decade was: every inovation or change in the way of living and thinking was matched by an equally strong reluctance to admit or allow for change. This seething resentment on the part of the old order of things, at seeing cherished ideas and institutions swept away, just sat there and bided its time: it persists today as the deeply-entrenched conservative belief that the nation went to Hell in a handcart in the 1960's and only the strong authority of a Margart Thatcher could begin to restore what was lost. (The 1980's were the revenge of the 60's authoritarians who lost out in the big philosophical arguments as to how we should live our lives - just about every advance made in the 1960's was lost or eroded in the 1980's). Depressingly, Blair and Brown also both seem to subscribe to the belief that "moral rot" set in in the 1960's and that this needs to be redressed. One big area that saw this battle between the conservative and the progressive was music - indeed, it encapsulates the struggle at the time! Readers may be interested in this discussion thread elsewhere on the BBC:- http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/mbpointsofview/F1951568?thread=4413552&skip=20&show=20 My contrib was " The Beatles may be the defining icon of the decade, but what marks them out as different and fresh and new is the musical background of the early sixties: nothing else around at the time appears to have the same freshness and vitality to it. Rock and roll was a spent force, and the dominant feature of the musical landscape appears to be schmaltzy balladeers, impeccably orchestrated big band music with vocals (a style dating back to the forties) and for some reason trad jazz, with its roots going back even further, was mainstream chart music. All these things were hanging in there from previous decades - I suppose today we'd call it "easy listening" or "middle of the road music" - and this appears to have been dominant between 1960-63. Until the Beatles and the Stones, it didn't seem as if anyone was trying to be new and innovative. (I suppose the parellel was with the way the charts got to be quite stale and moribund in 1975-76, and then punk rock arrived and shook it all up a bit. Although the Beatles and the Stones had a lot more musical and lyrical talent!) For the rest of the decade, it appears to somebody looking in from the outside (like me) that these two seperate musical forces were in competition for the charts: one new and innovative and risk-taking, the other somewhat more staid and "conservative". Witness Tom Jones and Englebert Humperdinck, old-school balladeers who would have been equally at home in the fifties, and who were having significant chart hits as late as 1969. I wonder if SOTSixties is in a double bind here, in that it has to cater for both camps? Those listeners who want the seekers, Petula Clark, Cilla Black and Englebert are not likely to be the same ones whose preferred sixties music is the Doors, Jefferson Airplane, the Yardbirds, Gentle Giant, et c: it does seem there are two seperate sets of tastes as to what Sixties music was, and of course both are right... my perception is that Brian Matthews tends to the former camp, and fans of the latter (generally middle-to-late sixties rock and psychedelia) get a slightly thinner time of it..."

Key: Complain about this post

The Music

Write an Entry

"The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a wholly remarkable book. It has been compiled and recompiled many times and under many different editorships. It contains contributions from countless numbers of travellers and researchers."

Write an entry
Read more