I’ve been listening to Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan and Byrds songs of the 60s for the first time in a while. I was a child in the 60s and a teenager in the 70s. The music of the late 60s and early 70s had a huge effect on me. I was probably too young to appreciate the Summer of Love in 1967, but the sentiments of the time continued into my formative years. Bob Dylan had a label on his guitar which said something like “This machine defeats fascists”. We really believed folk music had overcome dreary conformity and obedience, and that Rock n Roll would soon liberate everyone. When America’s war in Vietnam ended, I imagined the end of all war and a time coming soon when no nation would see the need for an army. I imagined that everyone would live in peace, that everyone would have enough to eat and somewhere to live, that no one need be scared of their neighbours or their government. I know I wasn’t the only one.
The “counter reformation” was a lot stronger than I expected. The forces of dreary conformity reasserted themselves. By the time Thatcher & Reagan came to power, I’d all but forgotten these values and got swept up in the greed of the 80s. Music became, for the most part, disposable fluff. I actually stopped listening to popular music radio in the late 80s as I realised I was listening to hours of dross in the hope of hearing something with a bit of passion. No one wrote songs like “Blowin’ in the Wind” or “Chimes of Freedom” any longer, not even Bob Dylan.
I believe our values come from two sources: some we learn from family, school and peers. These we would change if we chose to. I believe we also have core values we are born with and these we can repress or ignore, but cannot change. The music of the 60s still speaks to what I believe to be my core values. Perhaps I sound hopelessly idealistic or foolishly optimistic. I still believe it isn’t too late for peace, that humans could share the Earth’s gifts fairly, that everyone could have enough to eat and somewhere to live. I know I’m still not the only one, but these values are rarely expressed and seem less mainstream than they did 50 years ago. The music of the 60s speaks more loudly to these values than ever and I’m loving hearing it again.