The Glorious 60’s

The 60’s were an amazing time for this wacky human race.  I am grateful to have been a teenager during this era, when all sorts of values and concepts were being challenged by young people far and wide. We all began to wonder why the white Anglo Saxon model should be the guiding philosophy in daily life,, why Jewish folks were not allowed

to live in the next town over, why African Americans, were not hired to play in symphony orchestras, why Gays  and Women were not allowed into various lines of work,  why freedom of expression should be controlled and filtered by this same white Anglican philosophy.  The resulting music, art, and literature of this period had a fire and passion that is striking to me to this very day.

I’m grateful for the music that was inspired by and created in the 60’s:  Miles Davis’ series of ground breaking bands, John Coltrane’s further explorations,  Jimi Hendrix, all the great Bluenote recordings (Freddie Hubbard, Herbie Hancock, Hank Mobley) ,the Beatles, James Brown,  Bob Dylan,  Leonard Bernstein,  even the James Bond movie sound tracks.  There was a profound sense of exploration and subtlety in all this music.

I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to hear WNEW in New York, a radio station that played a wide variety of music, from Miles Davis to Sly and the Family Stone, to B.B. King, to John Coltrane., all on the same program! This was a period when good music was not categorized and formatted into narrow play lists on specialty radio stations.

I’m grateful to have grown up in an era when a middle class family could go on nice vacations, own a house, send their kids to college without going into serious debt. This was also an era when you could be a “starving artist” in New York City, and not actually starve.

How did we wind up where we are today?  We must not have been paying careful enough attention. It appears we have reverted back to some of the arcane views of yesteryear. When our governing body votes to cut off funding to National Public Radio and Television (which hosts most of the jazz stations) what will we do?

Listen to Rush Limbaugh and Glen Beck?    Oye!!!  God help us all!



  1. Walter P. Little
    Posted March 20, 2011 at 5:12 am | Permalink

    Bob… well put. I think about this all the time. I grew up during the Reagan and Clinton administrations, and as such I wonder about what life will be like for my generation when we’re in our 40s, 50s and 60s. I’ve been very fortunate in many respects. I have a good job at a company I’ve been with for almost 10 years and have several consulting clients. However, buying a house is not something I’d be able to do any time soon, if ever, and when I do get to take a vacation, I’m always on the lookout for how to make it as inexpensive as possible (stay with people I know instead of a hotel, use public transportation instead of renting a car, etc.).

    I see many of my contemporaries in their late 20s still living with their parents not out of laziness or lack of motivation, but for pure economic reasons. Many can’t find work at all, many of the ones who did find a job are working in retail and generally not full time. Many are saddled with large debt in the form of student loans, credit cards, etc. It’s scary, not just for these individuals, but for our society as a whole. Clearly my generation will not make as much money as yours did.

    Something will have to give. I think that ultimately we’ll all have to reevaluate what constitutes a good life and what happiness means. Not that what that meant 50 years ago was wrong, just that the circumstances have changed, and those of us in the more beginning stages of our careers who aim for that standard are going to be disappointed for the most part.

    Arianna Huffington’s “Third World America” is an interesting read as to the state of things and some ideas for what can be changed.

    P.S. You mentioned “the white Anglican model”… do you mean “white Anglo-Saxon Protestant”?

  2. admin
    Posted March 20, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for your post, Walter. Firstly, I did not choose wisely or accurately citing “White Anglicans” as a group in a position of power. I suppose I did mean White Anglo-Saxon Protestants, although this does not quite pinpoint the people in question either. What I was trying to get at was the concept of people in power getting in the way of all of us having the same opportunity to express ideas freely, for all to be considered equally, and for our community to be focused on the common good, where education, the arts, and
    humanities get their just due.
    My heart goes out to you and your generation. We’ve left a world for you that is far more difficult to navigate than the world we grew up in. Many of my son’s friends who have attended ivy-league colleges are currently living with their parents, without a job, burdened with a huge amount of college debt, and the bleak prospect of things not improving any time soon.
    How did we arrive at this place? There are many opinions, and certainly no easy answers. I believe real estate and stock market bubbles played a role. I think that our business community devising ways to move money from point A to point B and make a killing in the process has played a roll in inflating the cost of daily life, while wages for the average citizen have stagnated. (My daily wage for performing in Europe has been the same for the last 25 years!) Major corporations have moved jobs out of the U.S. to cut costs, increase revenue for the CEO’s, and drive up the stock price. Deregulation has enabled monopolies to emerge, where the media and the process of electing government officials can be purchased and controlled by wealthy industrialists. I think the” land of the free” concept has in some ways turned into “every man for himself”. Reagan’s trickle-down theory has long ago proven to be a flawed system. Yet here we are again
    facing the prospect of the “trickle” being shut off completely. Don’t tax the wealthy and cut off services to the poor. This is the antithesis of what we stood for in the 60’s.
    My esteemed colleague Russell Ferrante brings up the point that after World War 2 a revitalized economy in the United States was energized by the influx of revenue and jobs from the war effort, after which our focus turned largely towards improving infrastructure, education, and a viable social system that provided for and protected our citizens. The GI bill provided the means for veterans of the war to go to college, and the development of labor unions worked towards securing fair wages and reasonable working conditions for workers. Somewhere along the way we’ve been derailed from this quest, and as a result our country has fallen behind.

  3. Posted April 3, 2011 at 12:32 am | Permalink

    I get so nostaligic when I hear the music of the 60s and 70s even though I was born in ’62. Woody Shaw and the highly emotive Coltrane period come to mind for me. Somehow that music sounds young, euphoric and optimistic to me which is crazy considering we were in the cold war and many of us faced getting drafted and sent to Viet Nam. And yes, how many times will we have to debate equal rights issues? I was reading a book on the Memphis sanitation workers strike at the same time “gays in the military” was being debated and it struck me as pathetic that we have to learn a simple lesson over and over.

    Bob, great that you are blogging. I’ve always admired the way you can put some positive stuff out there, something I struggle with sometimes.

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