If You Could Live in Any Time Period, Which Would It Be, and Why?
I like this question. The part of me that really gets into history has been thinking about this for days! So, which time period would it be?
God is really smart. He knew that I would not be able to survive without modern conveinences like electricity, a working toilet, and a grocery store. House built from logs...no thank you. Slaughter my own meat? Um, no. I came to the Earth at this time because all of the things I rely on the most are here now. So, that takes away living in any time period before the 1900s. I wouldn't want to live in the 1920s because of the depression...even though we've sort of been through another one. The 1940s brought World War 2, so again, no thank you. If I could live in any time period, it would have been in America, during....
Why the 1960s? There was SO much going on during this decade! The 1960s brought tremendous change. Culturally, things exploded during the Vietnam War. At the same time, technical innovations changed how people lived, while music changed how people thought. All this was happening while the Cold War continued. I would love to be able to go back to that decade and just watch what was going on.
Let's look at some of the ways our culture changed during the 1960s.
In 1963 the Civil Rights Movement culminated with the March on Washington. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his infamous "I Have a Dream" speech to 250,000 people. Following the march, the Civil Rights Movement continued on and unfortunately grew increasingly radical as its members tired of the violence.
Assassinations became a popular way to silence those whose voices were the loudest during this decade.
On November 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy made a campaign stop through Texas. While visiting Dallas, he was assassinated. This national tragedy ushered in years of shock to Americans and his death continues to spark controversy to this day. Did the Government kill Kennedy? Was Lee Harvey Oswald really able to do this by himself?
Malcolm X was a very controversial figure during the Civil Rights Movement. Where Dr. King sought integration with white America through nonviolent means, Malcolm X was involved with a group called The Black Muslims who believed that blacks were superior to whites, and that we should remain segregated, and that blacks should protect themselves by any means necessary. He later separated himself from this group, and on February 21, 1965 was killed by members of The Black Muslims.
On April 4, 1968, an assassin murdered Martin Luther King Jr. Violence and outrage followed his death. Robert Kennedy attempted to calm the people, reminding them that he had lost a brother to an assassin. The nation didn't listen.
Two months later, on June 5, 1968, Robert Kennedy was shot because he supported Israel. It was meant to be a time of celebration, because Kennedy had just won the California primary. Instead, it became a wake.
How did technology change the decade?
Television became a political force during the 1960s. By this time, most American households had a television, and the first televised Presidential debate took place in 1960 between JFK and Nixon. Kennedy's team knew how to use television to their advantage, while Nixon's team did not. During their first debate, Kennedy looked rested, was tanned, and even wore makeup. Nixon refused the makeup and was recovering from an illness, so people say he looked pasty and even devious. Kennedy was comfortable on camera. Nixon wasn't as comfortable, and began to sweat, wiping his brow and causing the public to doubt him. Radio listeners believed Nixon won the debate. However, those who watched it on television gave it to Kennedy. In the first presidential debate of the television era, style beat substance. No one realized just how much TV mattered until after those 1960 debates.
Television also changed how the Vietnam War was seen by the public. The Johnson Administration promised that the United States was winning the Vietnam War. On January 31, 1968, the enemy launched a massive offensive (the Tet Offensive) that was broadcast on American television. Communist commanders were happy about this, as they hoped to influence American public opinion to get them to abandon the war. It worked, however, militarily, it was a disaster for North Vietnam. They were defeated, but somehow Americans didn't know this. Americans only saw blood on television and felt the administration lied to them. Faced with an unhappy American public and depressing new from military leaders, President Johnson decided to end our involvement in Vietnam. Why this was ever broadcast on television is beyond me. The public doesn't understand war. We only see soldiers who have been killed and we want it to stop. If we constantly saw on television what was happening in Afghanistan, we'd have been screaming years ago for it to be over.
Television was also central to the Space Race. Who could get to space first; the United States, or the Soviet Union? From beginning to end, the American public's attention was captivated by the space race, and the various development by the Soviet and U.S. space programs were heavily covered on national media through the use of television. Astronauts were seen as the ultimate American heroes, while the Soviets were pictured as the ultimate villains. In May of 1961, President Kennedy made the bold, public claim that the United States would land a man on the moon before the end of the decade. On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon. By doing so, the United States had "won" the space race.
Finally, let's take a look at the music of the 1960s. When I was young, my dad used to listen to music from this decade and I couldn't STAND IT! That all changed when I got into high school. I LOVE IT NOW!
By the time the 1960s rolled around, the Cold War was getting colder, a president was assassinated, and the United States found itself in a conflict in Vietnam. Standing at the crossroads was a remarkably diverse collection of musicians - from the folk movement, the British Invasion, Motown, and the psychedelia rock scene. Their songs would bring a generation together that wanted nothing more than to rethink everything the World War II generation valued and fought for.
Let's start with the British Invasion:
On February 7, 1964, The Beatles landed in New York City. Over 3,000 hysterical fans waited for their arrival. Two days later, they performed on The Ed Sullivan Show while an estimated 73 million viewers watched. The Beatles journey through this decade in musical history almost mirrors the 1960s as a whole. In 1963, tame songs such as "I Saw Her Standing There", and "Love Me Do" were the band's calling cards. By the time they were finished seven years later, "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" and "Happiness Is A Warm Gun" barely concealed references to drugs and sex. (Even though they continue to swear that "Lucy" is about a picture John's son Sean drew!)
Quite a difference from 1964 to 1967!!
Up next, Motown:
Not everything was about changing opinions. Motown musicians emerged as influential forces, breaking down racial barriers as they offered a steady stream of hits mostly focused on romance.
And finally, the psychedelia phase:
Technically this last song wasn't released until 1974; but it's one of my favorites, so I'm putting it in here anyway!
I don't agree with every song on this list, but it's a pretty good compilation of the songs from the 1960s showing the journey that music took.
It was a decade of tragedy, war, music, technological advancement, and changing opinions about life. I would've loved to have been there to see it all unfold. I hope you enjoyed the journey!