Term Paper: Rock N' Roll

Pages: 4 (1440 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Music  ·  Buy This Paper


[. . .] It is human nature to "poke fun" at the very thing that causes you the most stress. This can be seen in many satirical works of the Classical and medieval Periods. Some of the best examples of political satire are found in Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales," which makes fun of the religious leaders of the time, pointing out that though they appear to be pious on the outside, they are no better than the rest on the inside. Dante's:"Inferno" and Milton's "Paradise Lost" also carry the same theme. These works make political statements through the use of allegory and satire.

Music of the 1960s has many examples of political satire that rival the works of Milton and Dante. Let us take for example, the Arlo Guthrie's famous, but lengthy, work "Alice's Restaurant." The Draft Board was a reality that most tried to avoid. If a person were convicted of a crime, even a minor one, they stood the chance of being sent to Vietnam. "Alice's Restaurant" takes a tongue-in-cheek look at the experience of being arrested for littering and then as punishment being sent to the draft board, where the "litterbug" is asked if they feel that they are rehabilitated enough to go to war and slaughter babies. It also gives us a good look at the paranoid nature of the "normal" mainstream culture towards the "me generation" through the eyes of the Army officer in charge of recruiting the motley bunch sitting on bench "W."

The idea of "protest songs" was not new in the 1960s. During the Civil War, black slaves used songs as a code to help other s escape. Spirituals such as "Go Down Moses" and "Let my People Go!" certainly applied to their situation, except they did not have the freedom to express their feelings so openly (Blacking, 1995). In the 1960s when blacks marched on Washington D.C. In the biggest civil rights protest in history, Gospel Singers such as Mahalia Jackson, and pop star Harry Belafonte used these same old songs to inspire and rally the protesters (Blacking, 1995).

The music of the 1960s clearly showed a culture and a country divided on many issues. There are hundreds of songs by scores of artists. Some of them hit it big, others were a flash in the pan. But they all had several things in common. They expressed their feeling through music and their music told the story of an era. Everyone has seen the archival tapes of the War in Vietnam and the films of Woodstock and "Love-ins." We can read about the millions killed in the War, but this does not really give us a feel for the story behind the story. Music is the instrument that provides us with that extra level of depth needed to understand the issues that drove the actions and shaped the events.

The songs of the 1960s have been played over and over again and many of us know the words by heart and only listen passively to the songs. But if we really pay attention to the words and the feeling of the music behind the words it can put us in touch with an era in history. The 1960s is the story of a divided culture. One culture was based on the stability and ideals that arose from the 1950s. The other saw the wrongs of that society and lashed out in many ways, one of which was through music. By exploring the music of an enraged generation, we can understand their actions and in turn a little more about ourselves.

Works Cited

Blacking, J. Music, Culture and Experience. University of Chicago Press. London. 1995.

Cross, Ian. Music, cognition, culture and evolution. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. Vol 9(30), 2001, p 28-42.

Lenahan, Jim. "Rock 101." Courier-Journal. April, 21, 2001. http://www.courier- journal.com/features/2001/04/feature20010421.html. Accessed November, 2002.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia (CEE)."rock music: The Late 1960s and Early 70s:

Rock's Golden Age." 2002 on Factmonster. Family Education Network. November 13, 2002 http://www.factmonster.com/ce6/ent/A0860766.html. Accessed November, 2002.


Arlo Guthrie. Alice's Restaurant, Massacree. Reprise Records. 1967.

The Five Man Electrical Band. Signs. Album: Goodbyes and Butterflies. Lion Records, 1971. (originally released on Capital Records in 1969).

John Lennon. Give Peace A Chance/Remember… [END OF PREVIEW]

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