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From an analytical viewpoint, a series of radical changes in the then young generation marked the period after the World War Two. The rock and roll music according to sociologists became a haven for young people to express themselves. Hence, the purpose of this paper is to analyze the effects of rock and roll music on the youth of that period and in the same context.
Rapid consumption of mass technological developments in the media industry characterized the post-war period. The youths formed a counterculture to develop one identity. The economic boom allowed the youths to have more time for leisure which led them to indulge so much in social affairs (Bennett, 2001). The counterculture was popular in the 1960's and 1970's when the youths felt that they needed to behave contrary to what the society expects of them. The same was the new types of hallucinogenic rock music, pop-art, and further investigations in spirituality best exemplified the rejection of the popular culture. The counterculture was marked by unconventional appearance, music, drugs, communitarian experiments, and sexual liberation in the sixties. As the 1960's progressed, change spread through various perceptions such as sexual morals, racial discrimination, and women's role in leadership as well as women's rights. The counterculture movement was mainly comprised of middle-aged white youth who were economically stable, and thus had the time to indulge in social issues (Joseph, 2005).
Furthermore, the youths believed that their indulgences brought harmony, peace and love among all Americans regardless of race, or economic status. They felt that using psychedelic drugs were a means of opening up their consciousness. The most popular music acts of that time were The Beatles, The Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, The Rolling Stones, Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, and Pink Floyd. The outdoor music festivals that took place then, played a significant role in spreading the countercultures to youths from across the United States. For example, the Woodstock festival held from August 15-18, 1969 in Bethel New York featured 32 music acts and attracted over half a million youths. During the concert, countercultural phrases could be heard from the musicians while the crowd seemed carried away by the words of the lyrics. Phrases such as "do your own thing," "turn on, tune in, drop out," "whatever turns you on," "eight miles high," "sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll," and "light my fire." Spiritually, the counterculture included interest in astrology, the term "Age of Aquarius," and knowing people's signs (Saylor). In 1967, San Francisco became a melting pot of new dressing culture, pop music, and sexual liberation. One of the most significant events is the summer of love in 1967 that saw alternative lifestyles becoming the norm.
The counterculture created division among Americans with some Americans embracing it as a form of freedom of speech and expression. On the other hand, some Americans perceived the move as a disrespectful act and an insult towards America's traditional moral. It was further viewed as rebellious, destructive, and unpatriotic. The government then adopted some restrictive measures to suppress the movement and its impacts on society by banning the LSD drug. The government also restricted large political meetings and prohibited any form of obscenity in theatre, books, music, and other media. These measures proved to work because the movement collapsed by 1973. But, other forms of counterculture existed in the film, theatre, and art industries.
Finally, as discussed above, music plays a significant role in shaping a people's culture and identity. It happened in the sixties, and it is still happening today, and hence the role of music can never be underined.
Bennett, A. (2001). Cultures of Popular Music. Buckingham: Open University Press. Retrieved from https://www.mheducation.co.uk/openup/chapters/0335202500.pdf
Joseph, A. (2005). Rock 'n' Roll Experiences in the Middle Age. American Behavioral Scientist, 1-14. Retrieved from https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/dbd8/0b2ec510de7a6a85b934d941432a3c654ede.pdf
Saylor. (n.d.). Counter culture. Saylor.org. Retrieved from https://www.saylor.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/POLSC301-9.1.3-Counterculture.pdf
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