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Music styles in the 1960’s


by Erika Cox

The 1960’s was a trying and constant time of change in America. Race, women, and social issues all rose to the forefront of our society’s consensus.

Many songs depicted and described the many social issues that were confronting our society. Many artists in a variety of genres, including rock, soul, and folk sang about civil and women rights and the other social issues like the Vietnam War.

Much of the rock and folk music protested the Vietnam War and also portrayed the rise of the beliefs of the young generation, known as the baby boomer generation.

Soul music, of course, focused mainly on the race and civil issues during the 1960’s. Many black artists clearly understood and related to the racial injustices that Black Americans were confronted with and had dealt with for many years.

James Brown was one of the soul artists that spoke out through his music about racial and social injustices and through his music tried to uplift Black Americans. Many rock and folk artists were in the age category that most baby boomers were so they were able to relate and effectively get the message across through music about the many concerns of their generation.

Many of the baby boomers during the 1960’s were described as flower children or hippies. Flower children focused on many of the social ills in society but did so by engaging in a different lifestyle, one that was the opposite of what was considered the norm or that was different from their parent’s lifestyle.

A number of musical artists produced music that depicted this different type of lifestyle. Psychedelic music, which was popular with groups such as the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane, became part of the hippie’s generation.

Many of the hippies, including the musical artists, used drugs. The most popular drugs at the time were LSD and marijuana. LSD is a hallucinogen that causes the user to experience distorted images and sounds.

LSD causes the user to experience what is known as a “trip.” LSD causes its users to hear images and see sounds. Why someone would want to experience anything like this is beyond my understanding but it was very popular back in the 1960’s.

Many claimed to use LSD to escape the many social problems that occurred and allowed them to “seek” new horizons, get a clearer understanding of whatever it was they needed clarification on, and expand their mentality.

The psychedelic sounds of the artists’ music were closely related to the distortion that LSD causes. LSD and psychedelic music went hand in hand during the 1960’s. The Monterey Pop Festival included many new psychedelic groups and many in the crowd, including the artists, were high on LSD.

However, the flower children were only part of the large group of baby boomers that fought against social problems through music. The sounds of rock and pop music also confronted the many social problems.

A number of pop groups sang about issues. Groups like the Beatles, the Who, the Mamas and Papas, the Byrds, CSN, Credence Clearwater Revival, just to name a few. Folk music was also very popular during the 1960’s.

Many folk artists also focused on the social issues and concerns of the 1960’s. Artists like Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan were at the forefront of the folk music scene when it came to protesting against or for social issues.

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