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BOOK 3: TRANSFORMATION

OVERVIEW

The teenage culture of the fifties and early sixties was the seedbed for the youth-driven counterculture of the late sixties and early seventies. This shift toward a countercultural sensibility among young people was reflected in the music itself. If in the fifties Rock and Roll had been viewed primarily as a popular entertainment, in the period of “transformation” it would come to be viewed as--in its most elevated forms--an Art. In the hands of Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, and others, music became a “serious” thing. As young people faced the troubling facts of a war that included them and a country that refused them the right to vote, music now offered, among other things, a megaphone through which their disillusionment could be voiced. As the nation saw the rise of the Civil Rights movement and the Black Power movement that followed, artists like Marvin Gaye, James Brown, and Stevie Wonder used music to express feelings of frustration about the racial divide and excitement around the possibility of change. And as the music addressed the world of which it was a part, the music grew more complex, more varied—but, importantly, that music was also changing the world in ways it hadn’t previously.


Peter, Paul and Mary: Civil Rights March on Washington, D.C., 1963