The Swingin’ 60’s! War, Peace, & Everything in Between

By Mackenzie Madigan

Every decade in American history holds a significant change in style, music, politics, etc.. In the 1940’s, it was the Baby Boom generation and the end of WWII. In the 1950’s, Elvis arrived and the beatniks made their appearance. But in the 1960’s, a gruesome war was about, the rock ‘n roll was revolutionary, the youth were rebelling, there were protests around every corner, and just about everything in between. What fueled all of this? An angry government? Angry citizens? Take a peek into The Swingin’ 60’s and all the effects it still has on America today.

As you may know, the war in Vietnam was at its bloody peak in the late 1960’s. There was a draft, meaning that if the government sent you a letter in the mail saying you had to start your base training, they weren’t asking, they were telling. As you can imagine, this worried any boy from ages 18-30, because the next morning when they woke up, it could be their last day at home. Not only did this affect the men that were sent, but their families, loved ones, and also, the music. For example, some men left to live in Canada to evade the draft. Either way, the war angered the citizens and their emotions were expressed through music.

Popular bands in the 60’s included The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, The Doors, Crosby Stills Nash & Young, CCR, and Bob Dylan. All of these music groups, and more, had an anti-war protest song or two.  The lyrics to popular songs were highly controversial and influential. They spoke mainly of the merciless draft, the brutality of the battle fields, and they’d also frequently slam the government. “And it’s 1, 2, 3, what are we fighting for? Don’t ask me, I don’t give a damn, the next stop is Vietnam!” is a lyric from The Vietnam Song by Country Joe performed at Woodstock. “It ain’t me, it ain’t me, I ain’t no fortunate son” is a lyric from the song Fortunate Son by CCR, referring to the draft.

But it was not only the war that made the youth of the 60’s rebel against normality and conformity. This generation stood up for equality, acceptance, peace, and for the earth to live in harmony. That seemed like a hard thing to obtain when the world seemed so violent, so the young generation fought for what they believed in. Some of the anti-war songs were more offensive than not, but it was only for one reason. Peace.

Whether you’re familiar with the 1960’s or not, this decade paved a way and shaped how our society is today. Our music was influenced by the rock ‘n roll, our Vietnam vets are still recognized, the style is still popular, and we work harder towards peace everyday.


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