The role of Music in the 1960s

The role of music in the 1960s was particularly revolutionary in terms of popular music, before the 1960s music didn’t influence people to support a movement or as a medium to protest. At the beginning of the 1960s, some of the trends of the 1950s were still popular; however, the rock and roll of the previous decade started to subdivide in new genres and sometimes simply called Rock. In the early-1960s, Some of the subgenres from rock and roll were pop rock, beat, psychedelic rock, blues rock, and folk-rock, which had grown in popularity.

Bob Dylan Isle of Wight Festival 1969


The 1960’s marked the first cultural-revolution that used the Media, in general, to induce people to take action. Music was important for movements and the counterculture because it became a more open a free field of expression. For example; some of the artists that were known for the protest songs and the hippie movement were: Bob Dylan, Simon & Garfunkel, The Mamas & the Papas, Buffalo Springfield, Crosby, Stills & Nash, The Lovin’ Spoonful, The Byrds, The Turtles, Gordon Lightfoot, Peter, Paul and Mary. Also, there were many genres that became really popular for different movements, but The Psychedelic rock was popular during the 1960s. Psychedelic music was associated with the hippie movement and the use of drugs. It is argued that this subgenre of music was created with the intention of “enhancing” the experience of listeners who were using LSD or other substances. The lyrics were often strange and talked about sex, drugs and rock and roll; also, the different bands included different musical instruments like the sitar, tabla, harpsichord, and organ. Psychedelic rock along with Folk rock was the main genres associated with Music festivals and the infamous Summer of the love of 1967. Many popular rock bands (including British bands)  were influenced by this new pe of rock such as The Beatles, The Doors, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Jefferson Airplane, Cream, Pink Floyd, and The Yardbirds.


One of the most Iconic Images, Jimi Hendrix burning his guitar in Monterey Pop Festival


Protest music was different because it always had a message for the audience. This music was often related to social injustice, cultural changes, and all the different conflicts in the 1960s such as the conflict in Vietnam, Civil Rights, Women’s Rights, and the Sexual Revolution. And, in many cases, it brought important messages to the younger generation who would then join the protest, and the different movements got powerful for the support of many young people not only in America but all over the world. According to the people This genre was not necessarily specific to certain artists either, as many mainstream musicians decided to contribute to the cannon with their own feelings. For example, R&B and Soul singer Sam Cooke wrote and recorded “A Change Is Gonna Come” in 1963, a song that became an anthem for the Civil Rights movement in America, along with others like Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind” and James Brown’s “Say It Loud – I’m Black and I’m Proud” from 1963 and 1968 respectively. the war in Vietnam and its complexity in and out of North America made the peace movement to become stronger and bigger; definitely, one strategy was to use music television to inform the people what was really happening in Vietnam. As more and more American troops were being sent to Vietnam with virtually no progress being made. Some examples of anti-Vietnam songs were Pete Seeger’s Waist Deep in the Big Muddy from 1967, The Door’s. The Unknown Soldier from 1968, and Bob Dylan’s Masters of War from 1963. Both folk music and protest music were connected to the hippie movement because many songs talked about peace and love. Some examples of folk rock and protest musicians from the 1960s include Peter, Paul and Mary, Cat Stevens, Buffalo Springfield, Simon and Garfunkel, and Pete Seeger. Something discussed in on of our Zoom meetings, was about the military in Vietnam being aware all the counterculture movement. They were listening to the same songs and were bombed with the same media but they didn’t adopt or supported these new ideas; however, the soldiers enjoyed the different genres of Music.

One of the most Iconic songs for the Counterculture movement in the 1960s by Bob Dylan


Music festivals were really important in shaping the countercultural movement; the music festivals style are familiar with today and we can have a clear idea about how the gatherings would look like and the complete experience. The fashion of the hippy era in the 1960s hasn’t changed too much. There were many legendary Music festivals but one of the most important festivals took place in New York  Woodstock 1969 provided a musical summit for countercultural revolutionaries to express their desire for change in American culture with more than 500,000 people, this was a memorable music festival. Even Jimi Hendrix and The Who performed.  With no doubt, music is part of our lives and influence significantly our mood or how we feel. In conclusion, music influenced so much in the youth of the 1960s and in my opinion these festivals were something positive for American culture because racism, hate, the war wasn’t present on these festivals, people just gathered and enjoy in a really complicated time for the United States.

Woodstock 1969, with more than 500,000 people 



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