The Turbulent Sixties.
Perhaps it was because we grew up during that time but if you did a honest assessment of the decades preceding the present time, I don’t believe you could find a more volatile period than the sixties. Off the top of my head I can think of the Vietnam War, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the assassination of President Kennedy, the Civil Rights Movement, the assassination of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, and the riots that followed. You could also mention the hippie and ‘free love’ movement and the drug culture that was to a large degree a response to the Vietnam War.(I was a fabricated hippie, no drugs, free love, just the headband and long hair). Any one of those events by itself would have had a major impact upon society but taken together in totality I believe planted the seeds for where we are today.
However, it wasn’t just the political scene , but you could also point to other areas such as music and how it influenced our culture such as the ‘British Invasion’ in which music and in particular ‘Rock Music’ was changed forever when a bunch of musicians from England came upon the scene with a totally new sound. Whether it was the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, or tens of other groups, music would never be the same. But it wasn’t just the music but the impact it had upon society as well. I recall sitting in my living room on Brunswick Street when the Beatles performed ‘Hey Jude’ on T.V. and the response from my father, which to say the least was not favorable. To live through the era’s of ‘Big Band’ music to Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Eddie Arnold, the Mills Brothers, Hank Williams Sr., Elvis Presley to the psychedelic sixties had to be a lot to deal with.
I’m sure that there were many good things to come from that era as well such as the U.S. accomplishing the amazing feat of landing a craft on the moon and bringing the astronauts back home safely, but when looking at the big picture of the sixties and things such as the ‘Manson Murders’ and having National Guard troops stationed at Gwynns Falls Park and seeing soldiers standing on the corners outside of my house, that amazing scientific achievement just doesn’t seem to have the impact of what the other events did.
I have heard it said that all of the traumatic events of the sixties brought about a ‘loss of innocence’ for the country and when you compare it to the relatively serene period of the fifties with its ‘Leave it to Beaver’ culture, you can understand that sentiment. While you can’t live in the past, at this point in my life I have many more days behind me than in front of me, and many years of memories. We can’t go back and perhaps wouldn’t want to, but if only I could go back to a time before the first inmate created ‘Rap Music’ I could die peacefully.
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