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July 28, 2006

Irrefutable Proof that Civilization Declined Between 1964 and 1970

MIchael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

Via YouTube, two dynamite performances by the great Bo Diddley.



Both are full of throb, sweat, humor, and power. Man, did Bo Diddley ever have a lot of confidence and force! Watching him in action reminds me of looking at some of Picasso's more exultant bulls.

But compare the audiences. The 1964 crowd is in a state of happy, shrieking frenzy -- good times! The 1970 crowd is a sluggish sea of solemn kids. Barely a one of them moves; they seem weighed down by something far more important than mere pleasure. Now: Which crowd would you rather be a member of?

What happened between '64 and '70? Did the decade that had kicked off with such cheery, wriggling gusto collapse into a heap of introverted self-importance? That's what it sometimes felt like at the time. I'm pleased that, if we accomplished nothing else, my own, barely-post-'60s cohort (class of '76) at least brought energetic dancing back, and with a vengeance. We can die proud.

BTW, when I grow up I want to be able to wear a suit as snazzily as Bo Diddley does. I'd love to be able to dance like Bo Diddley does too -- look at that footwork! But I know that's asking 'way too much.

Related: I blabbed here about what it was like being a younger-than-hippie-age Boomer, and about the 1970s.



posted by Michael at July 28, 2006


What the hell? Was that a crowd or an oil painting? They look like they'd all taken a number to get a colonoscopy or something. Seriously - I wonder what WAS wrong with them. Never seen anything like it, in any concert hall. Anxious-looking group.

Posted by: Flutist on July 28, 2006 11:32 PM

Michael, this is the coolest blogpost I have read (viewed) in a long time. I'll have to start playing around with youtube.

Your comment about the revival of exuberant dance in the 70s puts me in mind of "The Last Days of Disco," a film with which I am sure you're acquainted. Surely one of the messages of that movie is that a culture that dances has something important, a certain earnestness, maybe, that is lacking in a culture that doesn't. We need more Bo Didleys and Whit Stillmans to remind us that cynical detachment is juvenile and boring.

Posted by: Max Goss on July 29, 2006 1:29 AM

Michael - I wonder whether the 1964 crowd had been influenced by the example of the audience reaction to The Beatles' Ed Sullivan appearance. Also, in 1964 Bo Diddley's music was still new to many people, but by 1970 he was already a bit of a museum piece. As I recall, there was lots of dancing to the Stones, to Mowtown, to James Brown, the numerous acts that appeared on American Bandstand, etc. But either way, I think a bit of caution is in order when we consider how people were encouraged to play to the camera -- or to act restrained. If you want to see something funny -- or frightening -- check out the youtube clip of Buddy Holly performing Peggy Sue. The teens are all on their best behavior, and the only dancing allowed is .... a waltz!

Posted by: Alec on July 29, 2006 5:54 AM

Now, Michael, this is what you should be writing about.

Bo invented his own beat! He's one of three bluesmen with their own distinctive beat, the others being Chuck Berry and John Lee Hooker.

Bo is almost impossible to play. The Band did a great job of covering "Who Do You Love." The Diddley beat can just drive you crazy... pure animal lust.

Posted by: Shouting Thomas on July 29, 2006 9:28 AM

Er, Michael, as one who was there at the time I think I can tell you what happened: The second group were stoned out of their minds. . . Marijuana and LSD became widely available soon after 1964, and you can bet your bottom dollar that just about everyone in that second audience were on one or the other. My generation, alas.

Posted by: Lea Luke on July 29, 2006 10:04 AM


Forgive me if this is a double posting, but the explanation is simple: the second crowd were stoned out of their minds. Marijuana and LSD became widely available circa 1965, and you can bet your bottom dollar that just about everybody in that second video was on one or the other. Wasted, as we used to say. As I tell my daughter, drugs were brand new back in my generation (for white middle-class kids anyway) and we quite literally did not know what we were doing, alas.

Posted by: Luke Lea on July 29, 2006 10:13 AM

Part of the problem is that the 1964 performance is live (and yes, that girl singing backup is really playing that guitar), while the 1970 version is lip-synched.

Posted by: Mitch on July 29, 2006 10:36 AM

Flutist - I think you're right -- maybe the 1970 crowd *was* an oil painting!

Max -- YouTube's a pretty amazing resource, and best to enjoy it now, I think. Many people are wondering how much longer it can go on, given copyright headaches and that the operation seems to have no basis in any kind of bottom line. Already some of the videos I've marked as favorites have been yanked -- great blues and classical stuff, darn it. I wonder if the lawyers have been busy. But, for the moment, what a treasure trove of stuff! And yeah: dance is more than just a metaphor for culture, don't you think? When people dance alertly with one another that's one thing, and when they galumph around self-absorbed, that's another. When they don't dance at all, then it's really just plain pathetic. Eager to hear and read about your finds and reactions to YouTube vids...

Alec -- That's a hilarious Buddy Holly video -- Peggy Sue wakes up and finds herself in a Johann Strauss/Max Ophuls movie. One of the commenters on the video says that the clip is from an Arthur Murray program, which explains a lot. Nice to see some of the dressed-up prom girls start to bounce a little bit to the Crickets' rhythms ...

ST -- Yeah: screw politics and on to the things that really count! The "Bo Diddley beat" is one of the great cultural achievements of the 20th century as far as I'm concerned. There can't have been too many other innovations/ inventions/ whatever that have given people so much pleasure ...

Luke -- Drugs played a big part in the collapse ... Whatever was going on in that 1970 audience in response to Bo was going on in their addled heads, I suspect. Sorry about the delay in comments-posting. We're still supervising and OK'ing comments as they come in, and that can often mean quite a delay before they get posted. I really gotta find someone to set me up with a "Captcha" random-number type-this-in gizmo ...

Mitch -- You've got better ears and eyes than I do. What's the giveaway that the 1970 performance is canned?

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on July 29, 2006 11:34 AM's the only answer. I can't sit still here all by my lonesome at noon on a Saturday listening to either one of those, crap sound and all. And if I ever do get to the point where I can sit still, I'll know it's time to get on my ice floe and push off.

Posted by: Scott Chaffin on July 29, 2006 12:36 PM

I can't explain the difference between the two crowds, but thanks for the videos! What power.

Posted by: JewishAtheist on July 29, 2006 4:10 PM

Boy, talk about trying to read too much into a pair of music videos! Bo Diddley is an American musical genius, granted. In 1964 he's at the top of his game riding six or seven years of well received recordings being released. I can't recall whether "Bo Diddley" the song was new at the time or not, but it was obviously his signature. As another poster notes, with Ed Sullivan Beatle-mania being what it was, screaming all the way through someone's act was encouraged and considered a sign of admiration and respect.

Now, jump ahead six years. Is there any way of knowing what the sound quality was like in the audience for either appearance? No. Is the tune "Bo Diddley" by now a standard rather than new hit? Yes. Have many in the audience responded to the Beatles complaints about how live performances became intolerable for them due to the constant screaming which made the music difficult to make and impossible to hear? Yes. Was the first version the last of three numbers that built to a fine frenzy? Maybe; there's no way to know. How about the second clip, had the audience been waiting for Bo or was he going on before the Kinks or some other act with a then hotter new record out? Again, there's no way to tell.

So, do I get this right ... here we are, trying to parse how it must be indiscriminant drug use and the decline of taste and civilization among the prime Boomer cohort because Bo Diddley is always Bo Diddley?

Having begun by reading your archived piece I am only beginning to understand the depth and breadth of the ways in which you feel cheated by history. Out of curiosity, do you have any older siblings whom you believe were warped, or destroyed, or blessed by being part of the classic Boomer cohort?

I'm dead center of the Boom, born 1951 and graduated high school in 1969. Blame it all on me.

Posted by: Chris White on July 29, 2006 4:23 PM

Scott -- Even stoned I think I'd have managed at least a few wiggles to Bo's music!

JewishAtheist -- My pleasure. Bo was/is really something, wasn't/isn't he? So's YouTube, come to think of it.

Chris -- Hey, thanks for taking a look at the archived piece. I really appreciate that. Guilty as charged of making too much of things, of course. I think you may be overlooking my slightly self-mocking tone here, but that's OK. And I'm not bitter about anything -- growing up a few years younger than the center-of-the-Boom crowd, me and my friends always took it for granted that life was just like that. I'll stand by the general smaller point here, though: whether or not these Bo videos are fair evidence, there was a big change in kid and audience behavior between '64 and '70. Pop culture went from being fizzy and innocent to being bloated, drug-addled and self-important -- that's just a basic fact of life, or so it seemed to me even at the time. Hence disco and punk in the '70s, both of them reactions against what had become of mainstream rock, and both of them attempts to revive and recapture the "fun" element in pop culture. Is that not how it looked to you?

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on July 29, 2006 5:12 PM

As a guy who married a woman I met in 1970 when I was the stage manager/host for a church coffeehouse and she was the new "girl with guitar" in town, I spent most of the Seventies in and out of recording studios, coffeehouses and bars. Many of our closest friends were (and many still are) professional or at least semi professional musicians. The styles ranged from ragtime to folk, from rock to avant garde jazz. There might be a month in which The Wife would do a college town dulcimer festival (sometimes getting flack for being insufficiently "folkie"), a Wednesday night Dixieland gig at a Holiday Inn for a dozen drunk businessmen and a few friends, and a self produced concert of original music at a rented Unitarian church. For fun we'd go see the funk band her percussionist was in ... or the rock band the viola player was part of at a roadhouse.

Music is both extremely personal and profoundly social. How old you are, whether you in a crowd of like minded, like aged, fans or out of your element, etc., etc., ad nauseum are going to color your perceptions. As far as I can see, a ton of great music made it out in the Sixties and early Seventies. This was the birth and then flowering of FM radio, especially freeform programming. The majors were still letting the likes of John Hammond and Arif Mardin record whomever they wanted, regardless of focus groups or calculations about a potential bazzillion seller being required before the suits would offer the contracts.

I would say that the arc from open, freeform, radio and loads of quirky labels releasing records to the tightly controlled, overlapping interests of today's media conglomerates was too fast and THAT is what has tainted much of what purports to be Popular Culture today. When the same Hydra headed corporate entities make & sell the CDs, program the radio and TV stations, promote the concerts, make the MP3 players and control the downloads all the fun has been sucked out leaving only hype. So, in short, no, I did not see a loss of fizzy innocence among fans and musicians replaced by bloated, drug-addled self-importance as accurately describing the situation.

[I did feel that way about a certain slice of Brit Prog Rock, but that was just MY taste. I've heard a Grammy winning engineer wax rhapsodic about YES. I could admire their chops, but they didn't do it for me.]

I am, however, most assuredly NOT depressed or despondent. Some of the same technological advances that have served "The Industry" are making it easier for any fan to find any kind of music from anywhere in the world. Musicians are releasing all kinds of material in small batches with high production values.

The Wife has out a couple of CDs of her own, and one with one of the two bands she's currently performing with (a global rhythms dance band). She sells them on line through CD Baby and Woodstock CD, a pair of independent on line music stores. We go to parties where twenty-sumpin' offspring entertain us with Celtic folk music run through punk and classic rock. Some of them sell material on their My Space pages. Friends who were on stage in the Sixties are on stage today making fabulous music from roots rock to free jazz for fans of all ages. Me, I'm stoked.

Posted by: Chris White on July 29, 2006 7:31 PM

Geez, it's I Hate The Sixties Month at 2Blowhards. I can't count the number of college parties I went to in the early 70s where all people did was riotously dance to Motown, so I don't get this one, Michael.

Are there any Joplin concerts on YouTube?

Posted by: john on July 30, 2006 12:34 AM

Chris -- I remember Yes, and I remember the people who loved Yes ... I'm stoked like you are about the present scene. For all the fact that the mainstream pop music seems beyond-inane, I get glimpses of indie stuff, CDBaby stuff, downtown-club stuff, GarageBand stuff that's really far-out and fun. Wish I knew more about it! Also wish I could stay up late still - it's tough when the music doesn't start 'till one a.m. ...

John -- One thing I think I notice about these discussions is that people who were in the thick of "the '60s" find it surprising to learn that other people experienced the '60s thang in different ways than they did. But how could this not be the case? When I showed up in college in '72, the '60s were over, and there was a strong sense (that everyone was aware of, students and profs and townies alike) that we were living in the dusty aftermath of them. It was like we'd shown up a few days after an explosion had gone off.

If your college days had consisted not of taking part in the festivities but instead of making do among the mess left over afterwards, I suspect it would have affected your view of the festivities too. I didn't hate or not-hate the '60s -- what would the point have been? But it was a party I hadn't been invited to and in whose wake (and among whose castoffs and garbage) my friends and I were stuck living. Easy sex and cheap dope were fun. It was a little less easy to be grateful for ruined educations, burned-out profs, lousy overblown pop culture, stagflation ...

As far as pop music history went, I'm glad to hear you and your buds were enjoying dancing to Motown in the early '70s -- my friends and I were too. But those were songs that had been recorded circa 1964. By 1972, Motown had lost the knack, was on the decline, and had left Detroit for LA.

Quick pop music history recap: early '60s -- snappy fast short songs. 1970 -- pretentious drugged out endlessness (or total commercial inanity). 1963: "I Want to Hold Your Hand." 1970: post-India, post-Sergeant Pepper, post "Long and Winding Road," the Beatles break up. 1964: Yardbirds release "For Your Love." 1969: "Blind Faith" is released, with the drugged-out cover shot and 12 minute long Ginger Baker solo. It was a cliche even at the time that Altamont (Dec. 1969) "put an end to the good times" or "represented the end of innocence." 1973-74: in reaction against the complete deadness of most pop music, disco arises. 1975-76: in a similar spirit, punk arises.

Yeah, there's Joplin on YouTube. Time for you to explore and share some links!

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on July 30, 2006 2:17 AM

There are so many unmentioned or unexamined variables that the "pop music history recap" fails to acknowledge for it to illuminate anything more than your own dissatisfaction with a few selected artists. As in a number of threads on 2blowhards there seems to be a nostalgia for a lost time with a clear and universally held aesthetic that I'm reasonably sure never really existed.

In the Sixties "The Industry" was still all about the Top Forty radio format and subsequent sales of the 45 rpm single; in the Seventies it was freeform FM and the LP album. Now, I really dug "For Your Love" but I also love that Blind Faith album. For "pretentious, drugged out endlessness" with a bloated drum solo you might do better to denigrate Iron Butterfly's 17+ minute In A-Gadda-Da-Vida released in 1968.

Curious, I grabbed the A's and B's from our LP collection to find out what we still had kicking around from the early seventies. Here's what I came up with.

John Abercrombie (with Jan Hammer and Jack DeJohnette)"Timeless" 1974
Airto "Fingers" 1973
The Band "Rock of Ages" 1972
Jeff Beck "Blow by Blow" 1975
Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band "The Spotlight Kid" & "Clear Spot" 1972
Anthony Braxton "Trio & Duet" 1974
Marion Brown "Afternoon of a Georgia Fawn" 1970
Tim Buckley "Lorca" & "Starsailor" 1970; "Greetings From L.A." 1972; "Sefronia" 1973; "Look at the Fool" 1974
Paul Butterfield "Better Days" 1973

Now, I'll grant there ain't many short snappy pop tunes in evidence (except for a nice batch of stuff from The Captain's "Clear Spot" but somehow radio was never going to make songs like "Low YoYo Stuff" or "Too Much Time" hits.)

Did disco arise out of a "reaction against the complete deadness of most pop music" or was it instead a parallel development of a style that worked in a particular context, the dance clubs where flash and platform shoes were considered more cool than the hippie's jeans and moccasins? Punk with its DIY grunginess might just as logically be seen as a reaction against the shiny gloss of disco rather than pop music. And besides, didn't all these styles to a great extent coexist and overlap?

In short, I cannot remember a time in my life when I could not find a nearly endless list of great music being released. Some of it, at any time, might be described as retro and other stuff revolutionary. Count me with Peter Schickele, "If it sounds good, it is good."

Posted by: Chris White on July 30, 2006 10:38 AM

Not that it matters, but is that quote - "if it sounds good, it is good" - not from Duke Ellington? I'm a longtime Schickele fan also, but I'd always heard it attributed to Duke. Charlie Parker once, too, but I don't think so.

Posted by: Flutist on July 30, 2006 5:25 PM

You're correct. Schickele attributes it to Duke Ellington.

Posted by: Chris White on July 30, 2006 7:55 PM

Chris -- You may be a little more caught up in the "is it good or bad" question than I am. Happy to admit that I like snappy short songs better than overblown long ones, but if you like overblown long ones better that's certainly OK with me. The key point isn' the opinion, it's the fact that pop culture circa 1970 was different than pop culture circa 1964. Dance styles changed, clothing styles changed ... I've got a soft spot for Blind Faith too, but listening to that album is a very different experience than listening to, say, a Smokey Robinson or Kinks disc from 1964. No one was making anything like Blind Faith in '64, and relatively few people were making memorable snappy short songs in '70. Something changed. I can't figure out what you find disagreeable about that assertion. I'd have thought it'd be about as uncontroversial as an assertion can be.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on July 30, 2006 9:49 PM

Michael, posts like this one are what the Internet/blogging are for.

You could almost see the thought balloons above the heads of those 1970 audience members:

"Hmmm. Am I allowed to enjoy this? This well-known artist appears to be playing his song unironically. Although his haircut and glasses are with it, is it still okay to have a dancing girl on stage like that? Wait!! Mr Diddley and his cohort executed a brief series of dance steps in unison. They're clearly under the jackbook of The Man, man. I will look uninterested and thereby express my knowing coolness . . . ".

Whereas, with regard to the 1964 crowd: how did they manage to move that much and still stay in their seats? This is a a lost art.

Posted by: mr tall on July 31, 2006 1:01 AM

Michael, pulling from your posts on this thread I get:

- What happened between '64 and '70? Did the decade that had kicked off with such cheery, wriggling gusto collapse into a heap of introverted self-importance?
- Drugs played a big part in the collapse ... Whatever was going on in that 1970 audience in response to Bo was going on in their addled heads, I suspect.
- Pop culture went from being fizzy and innocent to being bloated, drug-addled and self-important -- that's just a basic fact of life

So, the Bo Diddley YouTube bake-off purports to prove this point and thus get in a few digs at those damned drug-addled hippies who trashed your college just before you got there so that all you got was hind teat. And, as an admitted classic Boomer, you ask why I find your point disagreeable?

Yes, things changed. The question ... as it actually pertains to pop music ... seems to be; what changed? My point was that [a] the technology and indeed the entire structure of the recording industry had been changed to better capitalize on Boomers and that [b] the age of that target demographic, the rabbit working its way through the boa constrictor, had moved up (as it inexorably continues to do) from early teens to early twenties.

As you say, I'd have thought it'd be about as uncontroversial as an assertion can be to point out that technology changes (45 single to LP) and media changes (Top 40 AM to freeform FM) were vastly important factors in setting off the arc of what happened to music between '64 and '70.

Screaming fans tend to be fans of being fans, fans of music tend to listen to it. Fourteen year olds, especially girls, are reasonably well inclined to scream at the drop of a hat. They are also more likely to be described as fizzy and innocent. Those in their late teens/early twenties are not. None of this, however, leads me to decide that the music created for and marketed to fizzy innocents is better or more worthy than music of, by, and for self style hip aficionados.

As a final note, dry though my sense of humor may be and unaccustomed as I am these days to screaming with wild abandon for the sheer joy of it, I'm having a great time at the party and am not all bent and twisted, nor ready to duel over your dismissal of Ginger Baker's BRILLIANT drum solo.

Posted by: Chris White on July 31, 2006 8:40 AM

How do I know it's canned? One dead giveaway is that the music does a fade at the end. Real live music never does that. Also, I love that song and know every bit of that recording by heart. It did not vary a note. The vocal parts are always a little different every time they're sung – pitch, intonation, how long a note is held, the timing of a note, etc.

Posted by: Mitch on July 31, 2006 11:36 AM

But Michael, I was still in college in 1972, and everyone was still dancin' up a storm. What they were dancing to isn't the point: a typical party in 1972 and 1973 was put on records and dance, dance, dance. Maybe you were just at the wrong college:-) Your fellow students were known for working harder than everyone else. If I remember correctly, you had to take more classes and only had a short reading period.

Posted by: john on August 1, 2006 12:12 AM

Hippies can't dance. There's some good clips of Sly Stone from around that period and the hippies have a hard time dancing to that. Seeing as Sly could raise the dead and make them dance, this says something.

Bo Diddley -> the Ramones -> My Bloody Valentine?

That takes us to the early-mid 90s, the last time good music was made.

Drugs weren't invented in the 60s you know. Pretty much any favorite musician from the 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, was on something. Pot, Booze, Heroin. Etc. Probably before the 1920s too but there's not a lot of videos. The audience often indulged as well.

Posted by: Brian on August 1, 2006 12:59 PM

Excuse me? What, we didn't have the dance gene? I seem to remember, back in the day, receiving any number of compliments on my dancing, from free-form to the Hustle to Santana-inspired stuff.

From what little I recall of the time, the period from 1966 to 1976 was pretty much one big dance-fest. Nowadays I do my dancing to Outkast, and my son covers his eyes and shudders.

Posted by: missgrundy on August 1, 2006 5:10 PM

Chris -- "What changed?" is a good question. And economics and technology are often good places to look to, that's for sure. I'll add to your list of factors another fact, which is that in the early '60s, pop music was still a semi-fringe thing -- the Beatles were mediated for America by Ed Sullivan. It was a kiddie thing, and the adults were still in charge. By 1970, pop culture was becoming central to American culture -- the kids were beginning to run the show.

Mitch -- Thanks. Bo did a darn good job of lip synching, I thought.

John -- What they were dancing to (and how they were dancing, and whether they danced) was surely the point, no? Wafting-around freeform face-painted hippie galumphing was something quite different than synch-d up teams of backup gals in go-go boots. And I attended a lot of concerts (including one by Joplin) where virtually no dancing was going on. A lot of drugged-out "heavy, man" swaying, but little you'd call dancing. Or little that I'd call dancing, anyway.

Brian -- Someone ought to do a documentary about hippie-dancing. That's a great idea. I'd happily donate a few bucks to the cause. Ooooo, would that be a cringe-fest. I did some (or tried some) myself. I hope no one caught me on film.

Missgrundy -- I'll bet you did some serious swinging of that thing! Here's hoping your son has inherited the knack. Are he and his friends doing any dancing? I seem to remember there was a swing-dance revival on a few years ago that sounded like fun ...

Quick recap of general pop music history, though. Early '60s: Elvis, Buddy, Bo, Frankie Avalon, Shirelles, go-go boots. Middle '60s: drugs, politics, big money. 1970: Ginger Baker, panchos, hippie-swaying, a general (and widely-acknowledged -- check any history of pop music) sluggishness. You and your buds may have thrown parties and danced -- me and my buds certainly did too. But it was no thanks to the pop music industry, which was sinking in on itself. Concerts were overblown, drugs were everywhere, egos were out of control. The Hustle came along in '74 as part of the "let's have fun again, and dress up again, and do partner-dancing again" impulse that turned into disco. Punk came along in '75-'76 in a general spirit of "let's blow off all the accumulated crap and get back to basics: three chords, 4/4, and lots of adolescent energy."

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on August 1, 2006 9:11 PM

Typical cult-history passage:

In 1960, Elvis returned to the music scene from the US Army, joining the other white male vocalists at the top of the charts; Bobby Darin, Neil Sedaka, Jerry Lee Lewis, Paul Anka, Del Shannon and Frankie Avalon. America, however, was ready for a change. The Tamla Motown Record Company came on the scene, specializing in black rhythm and blues, aided in the emergence of female groups such as Gladys Knight and the Pips, Martha and the Vandellas, the Supremes, and Aretha Franklin, as well as some black men, including Smoky Robinson, James Brown, Jimi Hendrix, and the Temptations. Bob Dylan helped bring about a folk music revival, along with Joan Baez and Peter, Paul & Mary. The Beach Boys began recording music that appealed to high schoolers. The Beatles, from England, burst into popularity with innovative rock music that appealed to all ages. The Righteous Brothers were a popular white duo who used African American styling to create a distinctive sound.

There was a major change in popular music in the mid-1960's, caused in part by the drug scene. Acid Rock, highly amplified and improvisational, and the more mellow psychedelic rock gained prominence. When the Beatles turned to acid rock, their audience narrowed to the young. Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead grew out of the counterculture in 1967. The musical phenomena of the decade was Woodstock, a three day music festival that drew 400,000 hippies and featured peace, love, and happiness...and LSD. Folk music contributed to the counterculture.

Ya likes it or ya don't likes it but there it is ...

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on August 1, 2006 9:17 PM

Allow me to recap. Music in 1964 centers on fizzy love songs marketed as 45 rpm singles via tightly formatted Top 40 AM radio to the emerging demographic juggernaut of the Boomers when they (we) were what are now called Tweens; we danced, we screamed, we saved our allowances to buy songs that celebrated innocent fun. Jump forward to 1970 and we Boomers are entering our twenties. To date our "formative years" have included the Kennedy and King assassinations, the Chicago Convention riots and trial of the Chicago Seven, the Kent State shootings, the dramatic escalation of the Viet Nam war fed by the military draft ... and these are merely a tiny, random selection of some of the more dramatic events we were wrestling with. The media delivery system had shifted from Top 40 AM to freeform FM and from the single to the 33 1/3 rpm LP. Being 21 instead of 15 we smoked dope or drank beer in concert halls and clubs rather than sneaking Lucky Strikes and drinking ginger ale and fruit juice punch at well-chaperoned school dances.

As an aside, for me, I liked it better when dancing became free form rather than highly choreographed because I have two left feet. I thought that instrumental solos by the likes of Carlos Santana and Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix were wonderful, not indulgent.

So, where I remain VERY confused is in trying to figure out how this is "Irrefutable Proof that Civilization Declined Between 1964 and 1970." Is it that we Boomers were no longer "fizzy" kids, but had become young adult dealing with the socio/political upheavals of our day? Is there some objective set of metrics one can run on a recording to conclusively determine whether it is good or not? Or is this whole thing just more Boomer bashing?

Posted by: Chris White on August 2, 2006 12:52 PM

Chris -- As usual we agree, at least 80%!

* "Is it that we Boomers were no longer "fizzy" kids, but had become young adult dealing with the socio/political upheavals of our day?" I'd say that was true of your in-the-midst-of-it Boomers, not my slightly-after-the-fact Boomers.

* "Is there some objective set of metrics one can run on a recording to conclusively determine whether it is good or not?" Not that I know of. Have you got one?

* "Or is this whole thing just more Boomer bashing?" You bet!

80%'s not bad, do you think?

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on August 2, 2006 1:03 PM

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