RE: A culture of war

Mark Bunster (mbunster@SATURN.VCU.EDU)
Fri, 04 Dec 1998 16:38:36 -0500

At 04:52 PM 12/3/98 -0000, Michael Reidy wrote:
>Here's a new thread:
>Why, with all the protests, the war, and all, were sixties lyrics so
>up-beat compared to today nihilistic pop music?
>Michael Reidy

Hey, something I can discuss from a position of strength! :-)

I think your supposition may be a little off base, on both ends. I
certainly don't think of late 60's music as "up-beat", especially compared
to the era that immediately preceded it--when if it wasn't about surfing or
finding a girl down at the hop, it didn't make the charts.

I can think of several prominent acts in varied genres who produced some
real angry, disillusioned, downcast and cynical songs. Black Sabbath made a
career out of that type, for instance. Or how about any of the protest
songs from CSN- and Y (Ohio, Alabama, Southern Man)? Or the work of Marvin
Gaye, which shattered the goodtimey beats coming from Motown? Or the Velvet
Underground, even though they weren't so popular in a national sense? Our
own Country Joe didn't sound cheerful when he was Fixin-to-Die, did he?
(Well, he did, but that was part of the put-on I think). The Beatles White
Album is twisted, fiesty, sad, mournful, cranky and plain scary in addition
to pleasant songs like Martha My Dear and Birthday.

To move forward, there are a lot of acts today that produce essentially
upbeat "What, me worry?" lyrics. Hanson, Spice Girls, Shania Twain (I
think, although my country knowledge is poor by design), BackStreet Boys,
et al. To concentrate on the definite nihilism of bands like Nirvana and
Marilyn Manson is to miss a lot of other music that has none of that.

Rather than characterizing the 60's as a happy-song era, I think it's
important to realize that it was precisely the 60's when musicians and
songwriters freed themselves from the shackles of pleasant topics and fluff
lyrics. As noted above, the Beatles and Marvin Gaye were the real
groundbreakers for their respective audiences (which were, and still are to
an extent, very different). Dylan also obviously deserves a lot of credit,
athough he was shut out of the pop scene for a while early on unless he
used his "Lay Lady Lay" voice on a tune.


Mark Bunster ****How thoughtlessly we dissipate our energies
Survey Research Lab *****perhaps we don't fulfill each other's fantasies
VA. Commonwealth U ***** as we stand upon the ledges of our lives
Richmond, VA 23284 *****with our respective similarities ***** it's either sadness or euphoria
or try ***** --Billy Joel(!?)