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Age of Aquarius: Rock in the late 1960s. “ Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In ” – The 5th Dimension (1969) Featured in the musical Hair. Counter-Culture in the Age of Aquarius. Kennedy’s America “on the edge of a New Frontier” Age of Aquarius (Dawning) Dominated by astrological sign of Aquarius

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age of aquarius rock in the late 1960s

Age of Aquarius:Rock in the late 1960s

“Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In” – The 5th Dimension (1969)

Featured in the musical Hair

counter culture in the age of aquarius
Counter-Culture in the Age of Aquarius
  • Kennedy’s America “on the edge of a New Frontier”
  • Age of Aquarius (Dawning)
    • Dominated by astrological sign of Aquarius
    • Airy, scientific, and intellectual
    • Associated with intuition (knowledge above reason) and direct perceptions of the heart
    • Represents rejection of Judeo-Christian beliefs and values
    • Represents an optimism (even as hippies “drop out.”
  • California’s unique atmosphere created by
    • Influence of East Asian belief systems (Buddhism, Hinduism)
    • Individualism fostered by Rock and Surf music
hippy culture
Hippy Culture
  • “Hippy” and New Age movements of 1960s and 1970s
    • Era of universal brotherhood rooted in reason
    • Equality
    • Intellectual and spiritual improvement
  • Youth seek cultural revolution, rejecting everything to do with mainstream society
    • Love for nature
    • Experimentation with mind-altering drugs
    • Students often became politically active
    • Encouraged alternate living styles
      • Free mixing of races, socially and sexually
      • Complete sexual liberation and experimentation
      • Beginning of movements for women’s and minority rights
Q: What is the Source of the Hippy Counterculture of the 60s?
  • A: The Beat Counter Culture of the 50 mixed with a Folk Music Revival.
counter culture folk rock
“Counter-Culture” Folk Rock
  • The Beats (1940s & 50s) = The “original counter-culture”
  • They consisted of writers, travelers, and philosophers.
    • Jack Kerouac On the Road (1957)
    • Neal Cassady – Traveled with Kerouac in 1951.
    • Allen Ginsberg
    • Ken Kesey One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1962)
    • William Bouroughs
    • Paul Bowles
  • Term “Beats” comes from
    • (Beatitude from Zen Buddhism) or (Bebop or Bop Jazz)
  • Bop Jazz provide a lot of their inspiration
    • Thelonious Monk’s Four in One.
beats continued
Beats (continued)
  • They idolized their favorite Jazz Players including Parker, Gillespie, Monk, and Davis and many were regulars at the famous New York jazz clubs like Minton’s, Red Drum, and The Open Door.
  • The beat writers were intrigued by the mysticism and nonconformist attitude of the lonesome, introspective jazz player.
  • They talked the jazz slang, using words like cat, dig, blow, and square and they did the jazz drugs including weed, heroin, and Benzedrine.
jack kerouac
Jack Kerouac
  • Wrote ‘On the Road’ in a 3 day Benzedrine binge one long sheet of manuscript paper. There were no paragraph indentations.
  • Believed in “trance” writing without consciousness
    • but he began each work with a rough outline of what he was trying to write about like a chord progression or riff in a jazz piece.
  • Stylistic elements are basically the same as those of jazz improvisation.
  • NPR Website with audio and visual demonstration
poets writers
Poets / Writers
  • William S Burroughs (1959)
    • “Smell of chili houses and dank overcoats and atrophied testicles ….A heaving sea of air hammers in the purple brown dusk tainted with rotten metal smell of sewer gas”
  • Allen Ginsberg (1956)

“America I’ve given you all

and now I’m nothing.

I’m sick of your demands.”

  • Liner notes of Fugs 2nd album (Kill for Peace, 1966)
  • Vision of beats (143)

CIA Man (1965)

velvet underground
Velvet Underground
  • Lou Reed (lyrics), John Cale, Sterling Morison, & Angus MacLise, Nico
    • Managed by Andy Warhol
    • “The sexual and drug-related themes of the Velvet Underground were only taboo on records….Movies, plays, books, it’s all there.” pg. 145
    • Heroine (1967) lyrics
folk music revival
Folk Music Revival
  • Love for nature and simplicity, along with British innovation threat, rekindled interest in folk music
    • Songs composed in style of folk music
      • Melodic lines similar to country & western and pop styles
      • Use of acoustic instruments, especially early on
      • Usually duo or trio harmonies
    • Usually take the form of a protest song
      • Lyrics usually clearly enunciated to deliver social or political message
  • Scene especially strong at first in NYC’s Greenwich Village
folk music revival11
Folk Music Revival

Kingston Trio 1957

Three Jolly Coachmen

Merry Minuet

If I had a Hammer


Pete Seeger


  • Peter, Paul and Mary
  • (website)
  • Puff the Magic Dragon
  • Blowin’ in the Wind (vid)
  • Leaving on a Jet Plane
  • Don’t Laugh at Me
folk music revival12
Folk Music Revival
  • Joan Baez
  • Born in 1941
  • Her father was a physicist who refused to work for the war industries
  • His influence led to Joan’s political activism
  • In the 1950s, she lived in Boston where there was an up-and coming folk music scene
  • Began folk career at the 1959 Newport Folk Festival
  • Introduced Bob Dylan to the folk scene.

Joan Baez and Bob Dylan in 1963

Baez’s cover of Dylan’s “Blowin in the Wind”

woody guthrie 1912 1967 bio
Woody Guthrie (1912-1967) bio
  • Documented in 1940 by Alan Lomax
  • Born in “Indian Territory,” Oklahoma
  • Traveled as “hobo” during 1930s depression witnessing pressures and troubles of ordinary people Talkin’ Dust Bowl
    • Style known as “talkin’ Blues”, developed by Led Belly but popularized by Woody
    • Do Re Mi (treatment of Migrants from Texas)
    • Ani DiFranco version
  • “This Land is Your Land” (1940)
    • Bruce Springsteen Version
    • Response to Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America”
  • Grand Coulee Dam (lyrics)
    • The Bonneville Power Authority placed Woody on the Federal payroll for a month
bob dylan b robert zimmerman 1941
Bob Dylan (b. Robert Zimmerman, 1941)

Influenced by Guthrie (met in 1961)

    • Distinctive voice
    • Poetic and provocative lyrics
    • Transformed musical and political worlds of 1960s
  • First album (1962) contains
    • Song to Woody, based on melody of Guthrie’s song 1913 Massacre
    • Talkin’ New York, rooted in the “Talkin’ Blues”
    • Talkin’ John Burch Paranoid Blues
bob dylan cont
Bob Dylan (cont)
  • FreeWheelin’ BobDylan(1963)
    • A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall
      • Example of early Dylan
        • Acoustic guitar
      • Similar musically and lyrically to folk ballad
      • What social commentary is Dylan making?
      • Lyrics
  • The Times They Are a-Changin’ (1964)
    • The Times They Are a-Changin’
  • Video (Folk Career)
dylan and folk rock
Dylan and Folk Rock
  • Moves from Folk Revival style to integrate other genres
    • Abandons protest songs and goes electric
      • Many fans angry at him for “selling out”
      • Forges Electric Folk Rock (“Plugged-In Folk-Rock”)
  • 1965 Newport Folk Festival (Video)
  • "Subterranean Home Sick Blues” (1965)
  • Like a Rolling Stone
  • “Mr. Tambourine Man” (1965)
      • Written by Dylan
      • Recorded by The Byrds (Video)
      • Legitimized folk-rock commercially
      • Released before Dylan’s performance
  • Dylan bridges gap between love-obsessed rockers and protest-focused folk singers
where does folk rock music go from here
Where does folk rock music go from here?
  • Several Directions
    • “Working Class” Folk Rock

Country Music (Dylan, Cash) & Blue Collar Rock (Springsteen)

    • “Counter-Culture” Folk Rock

“San Francisco Scene” – Acid Rock, Psychedelic Rock

Jefferson Airplane, Buffalo Springfield, Grateful Dead, CSN&Y, etc…

where does folk music go from here
Where does folk music go from here?
  • Country Music & Blue Collar
  • Dylan’ Next Big Switch
    • Bob Dylan pulls another switch and brings “popular” folk music back to the country in 1969
      • Does not attend Woodstock
      • Puts out the mainstream country album Nashville Skyline in 1969; it features a duet with Johnnie Cash and the song “Lay Lady Lay”
bruce springsteen
Bruce Springsteen?
  • Let’s look again at the roots of Folk Music & Follow its trajectory
walt whitman s vision
Walt Whitman’s vision
  • 1855: “Leaves of Grass”
  • Book of songs representing ideal social order.
  • Implies the connection of the individual to the social good, the dehumanizing of the working-class man in an industrialized era, and the destruction of the their individuality.
  • Anti-capitalist works, calling for the working-class hero.
whitman s succesors
Whitman’s succesors
  • Alan Lomax helped preserve the attitude through his compilation of multi-cultural music
  • Woody Guthrie: 1920’s and 30’s “Dust Bowl Ballads”

Hurt songs that reflected the pain of the under-class individual

  • Pete Seeger: Spread radicalism throughout the 50’s and 60’s in Folk music.
  • Bob Dylan: Emulated Guthrie in image and style. Dylan had a well informed political view and during the 60’s was at the forefront for political protest music.

Songs commented on social and political issues very deeply and poetically.

  • Bruce Springsteen: Began to fit the mold of the working-class hero, and began to express his socio-political radicalism in a more impressionistic, cinematic style through his song.
bruce springsteen22
Bruce Springsteen
  • Born in Freehold NJ
  • 1972: Signs with Columbia
  • The “next Dylan”, the “future of rock n’ roll
  • Influences:
    • Woody Guthrie, Jimmie Rogers, Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, John Steinbeck’s novel “the Grapes of Wrath”, and readings of political and cultural history.
  • January, 1973: “Greetings From Asbury Park, NJ” and September, 1973: “The Wild, the innocent and the E Street Shuffle”
  • Very impressionistic interpretation of the urban social setting, and reflections of the optimism of the youth in the 70’s.
  • “Blinded By the Light”, Lyrics (1973) –Steelers Wheel
born to run
Born to Run
  • August 1975 Springsteen becomes a national rock sensation.
  • Popular culture desired sound is fulfilled
  • Escapism is a prominent theme, and the non-acceptance of the future for these working class characters.
  • “Born To Run” and Lyrics
  • Other tracks expressing similar themes include: “Jungle Land” and “Thunder Road”
late 70s early 80s
Late 70s & Early 80s
  • Baby boomer generation grows older and are confronted with the harsh reality of the economic forces of this country.
  • Expanded his historical awareness and hence his cultural contemporaneous awareness. Adds “This Land is Your Land” into his repertory and plays at fund raising concerts and protest concerts.
a turning point in his music
A turning point in his music
  • “Nebraska” 1982
  • Takes on Reagan’s America (Antilabor policies, 11 percent unemployment, union membership 29%, homelessness becomes a national problem)
  • Prevalent themes: Isolation, Dissolution of communal relationships, sheer “meanness”, directionless anger, violence, social consciousness
  • Julius Daniel’s “Ninety Nine Year Blues”(1927), The Carter Family’s “John Hardy”(1930) and Woody Guthrie’s “John Hardy”
  • “Johnny 99”, Lyrics
born in the usa 1984
Born in the USA (1984)
  • Misconstrued notion of optimism and patriotism


Born down in a dead man's town The first kick I took was when I hit the ground You end up like a dog that's been beat too much 'Til you spend half your life just covering up

I had a buddy at Khe Sahn Fighting off the Viet Cong They're still there, he's all gone He had a little girl in Saigon I got a picture of him in her arms

born in the usa 198427
Born in the USA (1984)

George Will - 1984

  • “have not got a clue about Springsteen's politics, if any, but flags get waved at his concerts while he sings songs about hard times. He is no whiner, and the recitation of closed factories and other problems always seems punctuated by a grand, cheerful affirmation: 'Born in the U.S.A.!'"


During the 2003 Invasion of Iraq, many counter-demonstrators played the song opposite anti-war protesters, which demonstrates continued misinterpretation of the song years after its initial recording.