Legendary bands of the 60’s and the meaningful messages in their songs.
Where has all the meaning gone?
As an elderly rocker I, along with many others of my age, bemoan the passing of the modern troubadour, the musical activist for change, the singer with something different to say.
Of course it could be there are still some out there, rabble rousing, making songs with lyrics that make people think about the world around them.
But more and more it just seems to be warbling on about 'lurve' or, more usually, the loss of 'lurve'. If the videos that accompany today's music are to be believed 'lurve' simply translates as sex and an obsession with physical desire.
That and trying to prove how macho you are. It has all got deadly boring and sadly predictable.
Donovan - Universal Soldier - 1967.
The passing of the legendary musicians.
At the risk of writing too personal a piece I must admit to feeling very lucky that my teenage years coincided with the great outpouring of musical creativity that became known as 'the swinging 60's'.
I was lucky to grow up with the legendary bands that have left us a vibrant musical archive of creative and original lyrics that are still listened to today.
It is heartwarming, and revealing, that many young bands of today still cite these bands of the 60's as being amongst their earliest musical influences.
And whilst the modern bands of today will have their work cut out to leave such a legacy of classic rock songs it still seems important that they should try.
Are we more shallow today?
This piece of writing includes the folk/pop singer Donovan singing an anti-war song.
Perhaps the style of singing or the way he looks seems a little naïve in these days of no-expense-spared glamour but his lyrics are still relevant today. Perhaps more so.
We are still fighting wars across the planet although we often delude ourselves that they are 'peace-keeping missions'. The universal soldier now fights for Nato.
It would seem that few musicians now sing protest songs. Perhaps we all so conflict-fatigued that no-one has the energy to write them anymore. Or maybe war and conflict are over-glorified thanks to the unreality of video games?
Perhaps we are all just too unintelligent or too shallow to care nowadays? Maybe modern society has become too concerned with how it looks instead of how it behaves.
And another thing ...
... what about our hopes for peace? In the 60's, Britain had almost sloughed off the residual aftermath of WWⅡ with only some building work left to undertake on the remaining inner city bomb sites.
We were, on the whole, a mainly optimistic society and young people were mostly tolerant of other races and cultures. Many young people envisaged a future world as a multi-cultured, multi-ethnic place full of enlightenment, peace and love.
Maybe we weren't as politically correct as people today (listen to the clumsy toe-curling lyrics of the following video) but we were a more hopeful and less blame conscious society.
In Britain there were fewer knives out on the streets against people of a different race. So where has it all gone wrong?
The hopes for a tolerant society ...
The failure of our dreams ...
It seems that now such lofty sentiments do not influence our current musicians. Life for them is more parochial, more concerned with themselves and their own small sphere of life.
And those of us who lived through more heady times are left with only the memories of the things for which we strove. It would seem that such a high ethos was not sustainable and perhaps our dreams were too naïve in the face of the reality of human nature.
The continuing need for inspirational lyrics in modern pop music.
But despite the failure of those long ago dreams there is still a need for modern bands and singers to write songs that inspire, to write courageous lyrics about the things that are wrong with the way we live.
Troubadours are still needed to prick societal conscience, to make us aware, to lead the younger generation by good example.
Now, more than ever, we need musicians to be less concerned with just their own worldly wealth and more concerned about leaving a lyrical, anthemic legacy for both their own and future generations.
We do still desperately need people who can make music and write original lyrics to stand up and be heard and provide inspiration and impetus to the jaded, ambivalent and unfocussed amongst us.