Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Music of the Counterculture Era: American History through Music

The late 1960s and early 1970s saw the flourishing of an American counterculture that affected many walks of society. The movement's music provided the soundtrack for this bellwether time in American cultural history. Such performers as Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Phil Ochs, Arlo Guthrie, The Doors, John Lennon, James Brown, Jimi Hendrix, and The Grateful Dead ushered in new sounds, as well as new attitudes and philosophies for an emerging generation. With vibrant narrative chapters on the role of music in the anti-war movement, the Black Power movement, the women's movement, political radicalism, drug use, and the counterculture lifestyle, this book details the emerging issues explored by performers in the Sixties and Seventies. A chapter of biographical sketches provides an easily accessible resource on significant performers, recordings, and terminology. Also included are chapter bibliographies, a timeline, and a subject index.

The American History through Music series examines the many different styles of music that have played a significant part in our nation's history. While volumes in this series show the multifaceted roles of music in culture, they also use music as a lens through which readers may study American social history. The authors present in-depth analyses of American musical genres, significant musicians, technological innovations, and the many connections between music and the realms of art, politics, and daily life.

* Chapters present accessible narratives on music and its cultural resonations
* Music theory and technique is broken down for the lay reader
* And each volume presents a chapter of alphabetically arranged entries on significant people and terms.


With Bob Dylan's retreat from the protest music scene, Phil Ochs became the most successful of the male protest singer-songwriters in the 1964-1965 era. Although Ochs wrote, frequently performed, published, and recorded numerous anti-war songs, his "Draft Dodger Rag" and "I Ain't Marching Anymore" were the most notable. Historian Ray Pratt describes the two songs as quickly having achieved "anthem status" in the peace movement. Pratt also writes that Och's albums All the News That's Fit to Sing, containing "One More Parade," and I Ain't Marching Anymore, containing both "Draft Dodger Rag" and the title song, became "essentials of the record libraries of activist students and early opponents of the war" (Pratt 1998, 176).


Ochs, Phil

One of the leading leftist folk revival singer-songwriters to take up the anti-war cause during the counterculture era, Phil Ochs (1941-1975 [sic]) never achieved the popular commercial success of Joan Baez, Judy Collins, or Bob Dylan. While he touched relatively few people through his recordings, Ochs performed at countless peace rallies and folk festivals, often rallying the crowds with his best-known anti-war songs, "I Ain't Marching Anymore" and "Draft Dodger Rag." He also wrote influential and effective songs protesting the mistreatment of Blacks ("The Ballad of Medgar Evers" and "Here's to the State of Mississippi") and in support of workers' rights. Apparently convinced that the movement had been all for naught and fighting depression, brought on in part by a mugging in Africa that left his voice permanently damaged, and by an addiction to alcohol, Ochs took his own life. Interestingly, Ochs's recordings from the 1960s and 1970s are virtually all available on compact disc reissues, as well as in elaborate boxed sets. Interest in Phil Ochs as a topical singer-songwriter is perhaps stronger today than it was during his lifetime.

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