Music used to mean something!
I grew up in an age when music was at the forefront of everything. The lyrics and sounds were studied and analysed, expressed deep feelings and were the instigators of social change. Music meant something.
For my friends and me, music was the very centre of our culture. When we met it was what we talked about, discussed and listened to together. Our music was no background sound, no mere beat to dance to; it wasn’t just about love, relationships and bust-ups. It had great depth. There was philosophy, social change, racism, sexism, war, politics and death. Music led the great changes in society as young people embraced a different vision for the future. (Of course, we did love, dance and have fun too!)
The sixties, for my friends and me, was a time of great optimism and change. We were opposed to the establishment with its warmongering inequality, build-in racism and misogyny and its greedy, money-grabbing elite. We wanted something better, something more meaningful, something with greater moral integrity. These were the days of the anti-war movement, civil rights movement, the burgeoning Green movement, women’s lib and the sexual revolution. We thought we were building a new world based on different values; better values. We really thought we could build a society outside of this mainstream conservative hell. We wanted out of the mad race for money and status. We wanted a happier, more fulfilling all-embracing life. Music was integral.
We were wrong. The establishment had all the power and fought back. They bought Rock Music, bought off our heroes, and sanitised it.
My, how I miss those days, sitting around the record player sharing a new disc and a joint, intensely discussing just what the likes of Bob Dylan, Buffy St Marie, Roy Harper, Captain Beefheart and Phil Ochs meant. Fired up on understanding – studying the lyric sheet, reading the cover, while immersed in the sounds.
Music was unifying, a vehicle of change and dissent. Music was central to life. It informed, permeated and reflected. It magnified ideas, emotions and philosophy. Music was our breath. Music nourished the brain.
Are the young people out there doing what we used to do? Are they fired up on idealism? Are there new Roy Harpers, Bob Dylans and Captain Beefhearts producing deep, meaningful music?
Is the establishment in danger?