The Beatles and Rock and Roll
The 1960’s was a period of great experimentation in popular music and youth culture. ‘Discuss with a reference to least ONE rock band performer’. The sixties saw serge of experimentation in most spheres of public and private life that can be better understood in reference to the economic, social, and racial climate of the time. As the civil rights struggle built momentum, rock and soul became more accessible to both black and white teens. Also an increasing violent society that reflected upon images of Vietnam that would generate a musical revolution of a post World War 2, a generation hungry to make a cultural statement.
To better understand this concept it is imperative we go back a decade to the 1950’s, which provided the right cultural, social and political conditions for the emergence of a new musical form in the 60’s. As the 50’s were seen as a period of immense prosperity and conformity, this homogenous conformist environment was created through almost every thing being mass-produced. From food, to housing to culture, identical units of consumer products were being produced in the millions. This mass conformity would later have a very important impact on the youth culture and music of the 60’s.
As the 50’s tried to enforce its ideals upon its young ”to be part of a group. ” And that ”to stand out” was bad; to be ”weird” was not normal. These concepts focused on the children and socialising them in the ”right” way through various organisations and activities. This attempt at forcing values ultimately produced a spoiled generation. It was labelled the ”corporate mind” allowing the conformity to produce order. Money seemed plentiful there was no need for ”self-denial”, and materialism was a way of life.
New advances in technology promised new and better lives and the people bought into it, as they believed a better life was in the making and the that science was responsible. The single-minded pursuit of money created a gap between children and their parents. The promise of a better life seemed to been dissolved, thus creating a visible gap between the rich and poor. While the suburbs were reflective of the newest time saving technologies, and entertainment advances, the inner cities were economic prisons, providing no jobs, little municipal services, and little means of escape.
This socio-economic gap would allow rock and roll to flourish. The children of the 50’s were not considered people with valid ideas and emotions, but something on the lines of a showpiece. As outward appearances meant everything, bad behaviour was not considered normal. Even television at the time stressed this importance of this so-called normality. It most often entailed being in a vegetative state, thus creating repression among the youth, which inevitably exploded into the individualism and free love of the 60’s. Slogans like ”control your emotions” would turn into banners such as ”if it feels good do it.
” Another key factor that played a key role in the experimentation of the 60’s was the threat of communism and atomic war that inadvertently effected the development of American youth culture for some time, as it brought fourth this constant paranoia in American society. As for many Americans this struggle against communism was seen as a fight between good and evil, which brought censorship as the older generation of Americans believed that this new form of artistic expression being introduced to the popular culture at the time would erode the values of young people.
Any questionable books could be censored; the printed word was far easier to suppress then rock and roll. Rock proved to be a formidable force that moved American youth into a totally new existence. This new form of music ran opposed to everything that the television had deemed acceptable. Weirdness was embraced through such people as Little Richard, and its black origins in words; style and implications threatened white parental society. Through the Beatles and Rock and Roll, the rebellion against suburbia was started.