Sunday, 22 March 2009

America in White, Black, and Gray: A History of the Stormy 1960s

by Klaus Fischer

Although the music of the 1960s reflects the turbulence of the time, its general message is curiously apolitical. There is protest aplenty, but its mood reflects the personal alienation of the musician from what he perceives to be an unfriendly, even callous environment. Most musicians were young and white. Not surprisingly, their concerts were with their own fears and anxieties, though some white singers, notably Phil Ochs, Janis Joplin, and Frank Zappa, made genuine efforts to identify with the reality of black suffering in the south or in northern ghettos. Country Joe and the Fish warns: "But if you can't go to Harlem . . . Maybe you'll be lucky and Harlem will come to you," while Frank Zappa sadly admits, "You know something people, I ain't black but there's whole lots of times I wish I could say I'm not white."

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