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Music: One Hundred Years of Memories--1912-2012--Part Three

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 1 1

MUSIC: One Hundred Years of Memories—1912-2012—Part Three

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 A Series in 5 Parts—1950-1969

 By: J. Marlando

 1950

Most Americans could hardly believe it. We were back in a war—called a “police” action at the time—with North Korea. We began by only delivering sea and air support to the South Koreans but the massive armies of North Korea gave us the incentive to add ground forces.  This occurred in June of 1950.

At the same time America pledges it support of the French with both economic and military aid. The reason given was that the North Vietnamese was a rising insurgency of communism. Actually the truth runs deeper than this with the Vietnamese listing their complaints against the French sounding like the Americans of 1776, according to historian Howard Zinn repeating the North’s grievances: They have built more prisons than schools. They have mercilessly slain our patriots; they have drowned uprisings in rivers of blood. They have fettered public opinion…they have robbed us of our rice fields, our mines, our forests, and our raw materials…They have invented numerous unjustifiable taxes and reduced our people, especially our peasantry to extreme poverty.

North Korea was different—it was supported by both China and Russia and their army of nearly 90,000 men greatly outnumbered South Korean’s 38,000.

Regardless of problems “over there” most Americans were content at home—Marriage and family life was the cornerstone of the middle class and consumer prices continued to be fair.

Gallon of gas    18 cents

Bananas—2 pounds 27 cents

A can of soup  10 cents

A loaf of bread  12 cents

Potatoes—10 pound  35 cents

Sugar—5 pounds  43 cents

A great chuck roast for 57 cents a pound

Television sets were very expensive, however, with an average price nearly $250.00—lots of money for the average American at the time. You could buy a house in 1950 for under $2,000.

Housing is what gave America a strong independence and sense of wellbeing: Thanks to the GI Bill, inexpensive construction and a growing economy lots and lots of people were becoming home owners

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.Construction sites were everywhere and houses were starting to look the same. Here’s a sample of a suburban area
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that mocked suburban areas from coast to coast. (This of course was the wave of the future). Yet, “home” was perhaps the most important word in American culture and family life was the extreme ideal. Back then the family unit was still considered to be the backbone of America’s strength and prosperity and home life was, beyond all else, the American Dream.

In the flavor of family and friends, a most popular song of that year was a fun and simple song written by Al Hoffman. Bob Merrill and Clem Watts—If I Knew You were comin’ I’d’ve baked a cake.

SPOKEN: Come in! Well, well, well. Look who's here. I haven't seen you in many
a year.
If I knew you were comin' I'd've baked a cake, baked a cake, baked a cake
If I knew you were comin' I'd've baked a cake
Howdya do, howdya do, howdya do?
Had you dropped me a letter, I'd a-hired a band, grandest band in the land
Had you dropped me a letter, I'd a-hired a band
And spread the welcome mat for you
Oh, I don't know where you came from
'cause I don't know where you've been

But it really doesn't matter
Grab a chair and fill your platter
And dig, dig, dig right in

 1951

1951 was a significant year in U.S. history—the Atom bomb had already been used to create unimaginable damage and death and in May of this year scientists detonated the world’s first thermonuclear device also known as…the H-Bomb. It would not be long before the Soviets had the same thing so the world was becoming extremely vulnerable to the whims and decisions of those in powerful positions. There was no place in the civilized world that was not enduring the threat at one level or another.

The United States also went into a kind of shock in this year because give-‘em-hell-Harry fired one of America’s most honored generals—Douglas MacArthur. The president and general

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were in conflict over the Korean War in a few arenas and this escalated when MacArthur debated with President Chaing Kaichek of Nationalist China without his permission. Then when China came into the war, MacArthur wanted to bomb inside China territory. Truman would not hear of it saying there was a truce being discussed. Later, standing before Congress MacArthur would deliver his famous line in his goodbye speech. “Old soldiers never die, they just fade away.”

This was the year that Chrysler introduced power steering in automobiles. The Sharp looking Imperial

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came equipped with it. And speaking of cars, this was also the year that Japan was given back its sovereignty under the conditions of the treaty it had signed. No one dreamed back then that they would be competing directly with American car manufactures—something that younger people take for granted these days.

Most Americans wanted to put politics and war out of their minds and just live a normal, content life. Indeed, after all the years of hardships most Americans simply wanted to return to simplicity. Western music was extremely popular especially during the late 1940s and early 1950s. Here’s a Hank Williams song that was a super “tears in your beer” song that became a gigantic hit: Cold, Cold Heart. (If you’ve heard this song, you’ll also know that the melody simply stays with you).

I tried so hard my dear to show that you’re my every dream.
Yet you’re afraid each thing I do is just some evil scheme
A memory from your lonesome past keeps us so far apart
Why can’t I free your doubtful mind and melt your cold cold heart

Another love before my time made your heart sad and blue
And so my heart is paying now for things I didn’t do
In anger unkind words are said that make the teardrops start
Why can’t I free your doubtful mind, and melt your cold cold heart

1952

This was the year that Dwight Eisenhower

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won the presidential election, a retired general of the highest esteem. Richard Nixon would be his vice-president. I was just 12 years old at the time but I wore my “I like Ike button
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” although my entire family was devoted democrats.

By this time people were beginning to feel the stability of the “golden years.” The middle class remained strong, employment up and prices fair. There were the overpopulated impoverished as always but as for those in the “white middle” there was at least ample spending dollars for luxuries as well as necessities and life was feeling, above all, content. Indeed, when Christmas rolled around there was typically lots of presents, another symbol of a growing economy. In fact, a big hit this year was a Christmas song that both adults and kids would sing every now and then year ‘round. I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Clause:

I saw Mommy kissing Santa Clause

Underneath the mist toe last night

She didn’t see me creep

Down the stairs to have a peek

She thought that I was upstairs in my bedroom fast asleep

Then I saw Mama tickle Santa Clause

Underneath his beard so snowy white

Oh what a laugh it would have been

If daddy had only seen

Mama kissing Santa Clause last night.

1953

The good news of 1953 is that the Korean “conflict” ended. The “conflict” took over 22 thousand American lives in battle and left over 9 thousand missing. This was also the year of the first Playboy Magazine with America’s sweetheart Marilyn Monroe posing nude for its first issue. Back then lots of people didn’t approve of the nude shots but they sure bought the magazines.

Marilyn

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Love was in the air though and the simplest of love songs made it to the charts this year: You, You, You. Words by Robert Mellin and Lotar Olias with music by Hugo Winterhalter

You, You You
I'm in love with you, you, you
I could be so true, true, true
To someone like you, you, you

Do, do, do
What you ought to do, do, do
Take me in your arms, please do
Let me cling to you, you, you

We were meant for each other
Sure as heavens above
We were meant for each other
To have, to hold and to love

1954

This was the year that the “cold war” was on everyone’s mind. For one thing air raid shelter

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signs were on just about very federal building. The nuclear war scare even drove some families to build backyard bomb shelters
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Hoowever, the common joke was—what do you do in case of a nuclear attack?

Lean over as far as you can, put your head between your legs and kiss your rear-end goodbye!

There was also the news that Eisenhower had promised more “help” to South Vietnam. This bit of information was missed by most Americans. Most Americans didn’t even know where Vietnam was at the time.

In view of it all, a most popular song of ’54 was a cute romantic number with the unexpected title of Mister Sandman. Songwriters: Robert Diggs, Clifford Smith and Jason Hunter. (There is also the male version).

Mister Sandman, bring me a dream
Make him the cutest that I've ever seen
Give him two lips like roses in clover
Then tell him that his lonesome nights are over

Mister Sandman, I'm so alone
Don't have nobody to call my own
Please turn on your magic beam
Mister Sandman, bring me a dream

Mister Sandman, bring me a dream
Make him the cutest that I've ever seen
Give him the word that I'm not a rover
Then tell him that his lonesome nights are over

1955

This was a year of transition and change. By now television had become a household necessity. Indeed, the loss of family meals in the kitchen or dining room was lost during this age of the TV tray

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and eating while watching television. Home life was never to be the same.

Lots of things wouldn’t be the same, however. This was the year that Rock ‘N Roll was popularized with a hit tune by Bill Haley—Rock Around the Clock.

One, Two, Three O'clock, Four O'clock rock,
Five, Six, Seven O'clock, Eight O'clock rock.
Nine, Ten, Eleven O'clock, Twelve O'clock rock,
We're gonna rock around the clock tonight.

Put your glad rags on and join me hon',
We'll have some fun when the clock strikes one.

We're gonna rock around the clock tonight,
We're gonna rock, rock, rock, 'till broad daylight,
We're gonna rock around the clock tonight.

TV programing was getting better and more sophisticated too; I love Lucy was still at the t

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op, with a new show by the Name of Davy Crockett. The big hit however was Gunsmoke.

 

This was also the year that the heroine Rosa Parks refused to ride on the back of the bus or to give up her seat for a white man. She was later arrested

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for breaking Alabama law but this would begin the Equal Rights movement and start positive changes for America’s black population.

And at this time it happened to be a black man that was creating waves and waves of black and white fans with his hot, zany and wild performances. A big hit of 1955 was Tutti Fruit sung by the incredible Little Richard:

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Bop bopa-a-lu a whop bam boom
Tutti frutti, oh Rudy
Tutti frutti, oh Rudy
Tutti frutti, oh Rudy
Tutti frutti, oh Rudy
Tutti frutti, oh Rudy
A whop bop-a-lu a whop bam boom

Got a girl named Sue, she knows just what to do
Got a girl named Sue, she knows just what to do
She rock to the east, she rocks to the west
But she's the girl that I know best

Tutti frutti, oh Rudy
Tutti frutti, oh Rudy
Tutti frutti, oh Rudy
Tutti frutti, oh Rudy
Tutti frutti, oh Rudy
A whop bop-a-lu a whop bam boo

1956

Lots happened this year with Eisenhower winning a second term and one of America’s great boxers of all time—Rocky Marciano—retiring after never losing a professional bout. This was the year too that the Supreme Court ruled that bus segregation is unconstitutional. And, sadly, the year that Jackson Pollock, the action abstractionist died in a car accident. Here’s a sample of his work that brought him both praise and criticism but…also fame.

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The gigantic impact of ’56, however, was made by a singer from Tennessee by the name of Elvis Presley. Most adults of the time found Elvis’s music vulgar and even shameful but the teens and younger adults loved him from the start and would turn him into a lasting legend. One of his major hits: Don’t be Cruel:

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You know I can be found,
Sitting home all alone,
If you can't come around,
At least please telephone.
Don't be cruel to a heart that's true.

Baby, if I made you mad
For something I might have said,
Please, let’s forget the past,
The future looks bright ahead,
Don't be cruel to a heart that's true.
I don't want no other love,
Baby it's just you I'm thinking of.

Another mid-fifties super star was Fats Domino. He climbed the chart with Blueberry Hill:

I found my thrill on Blueberry Hill
On Blueberry Hill where I found you
The moon stood still on Blueberry Hill
And lingered till my dreams came true

The wind in the willow played
Love's sweet melody
But all of those vows we made
Were never to be

Tho' we're apart you're part of me still
For you were my thrill on Blueberry Hill

1957

Most essentially Martin Luther King made his entrance into public life in this year—his aim was to make social change with non-violent protests. This was also the year the school integration began in the South. It is difficult to imagine the bravado of black kids with the determination to enter a school where they were not wanted and where mobs were actually threatening their lives. Indeed, it took federal troops to escort blacks into the then all white schools. Ironically this was the first year that a black person

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won Wimbledon; a triumph for anyone but especially for a poor girl from a rundown shanty on a South Carolina Cotton farm.

As for music, the songs high on the charts were diverse as they could be. They begin with Johnnie Mathis’s very beautiful Changes Are written by Al Stillman and Robert Allen.

Chances are ‘cause you wear a silly grin

The moment you come into view

Chances are you think I’m in love with you

Just because my composure sorts of slips

The moment that your lips meet mine,

Chances are you think my heart’s your valentine

And Jimmie Roger’s romantic upbeat, Honeycomb:

Well it's a darn good life
And it's kinda funny
How the Lord made the bee
And the bee made the honey
And the honeybee lookin' for a home
And they called it honeycomb
And they roamed the world and they gathered all
Of the honeycomb into one sweet ball
And the honeycomb from a million trips
Made my baby's lips

Oh, Honeycomb, won't you be my baby
Well, Honeycomb, be my own
Got a hank o' hair and a piece o' bone
And made a walkin' talkin' Honeycomb
Well, Honeycomb, won't you be my baby
Well, Honeycomb, be my own
What a darn good life
When you got a wife like Honeycomb

And who can forget Jerry Lee Louis’s big ’57 hit…Great Balls of fire. (A song on the greatest song list of all times by the way).

You shake my nerves and you rattle my brain
Too much love drives a man insane
You broke my will
But what a thrill
Goodness gracious great balls of fire!

I laughed at love cause I thought it was funny
but you came along and moved me honey
I've changed my mind
This love is fine
Goodness gracious great balls of fire!

1958

After only around 3 years of superstardom Elvis was drafted into the U.S. Army this year—he seemed okay with the situation but many of his fans wept. Indeed, he told the Army that he wanted no special treatment; he would spend his two years just like any other soldier.

Drive in movies

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were the rage especially among teens by 1958—there were over 7000 of them across the U.S. and a perfect place for back seat love affairs. Back then however while some heavy petting went on, only a handful of young people “went all the way.” Back then the typical belief was that “sex” waited until after marriage and for most it did.

Dress styles for young women were very feminine 

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and here’s a sample of cotton party dresses. Style for “cool” guys were one button suits, ducktail haircuts and “Elvis” sideburns if they could grow ‘em.

With all the hot rock ‘n roll going on, surprisingly a ballad jumped high onto the charts and stayed there for a long time. It was the Kingston Trio’s gigantic hit: Tom Dooley. Actually an old South Carolina folk song based on a true story and if you remember the song, you remember the tune:

(Spoken)

Throughout history
There've been many songs written about the eternal triangle
This next one tells the story of a Mister Grayson, a beautiful woman
And a condemned man named Tom Dooley...
When the sun rises tomorrow, Tom Dooley... must hang...

Hang down your head, Tom Dooley
Hang down your head and cry
Hang down your head, Tom Dooley
Poor boy, you're bound to die
I met her on the mountain
There I took her life
Met her on the mountain
Stabbed her with my knife

In contrast another hit of that year was Elvis’s Wear My Ring Around Your Neck:

Won't you wear my ring around your neck
To tell the world I'm yours, by heck
Let them see your love for me
And let them see by the ring around your neck

Won't you wear my ring around your neck
To tell the world I'm yours, by heck
Let them know I love you so
And let them know by the ring around your neck

1959

1959 was a year without any real triumphs or tragedies. The premier of Russia, Nikita Khrushchev

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came to the United States. The dedicated communist seemed to have a grand time seeing Hollywood but was not allowed to go to Disneyland for security reasons. (The last thing the Cold War needed was to have something happen to their premier on American soil).

This was the second year that the Ford Edsel

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was offered but, for some reasons, Americans didn’t care much for the design and after one more try in 1960, the line was dropped. The only time the Ford Company absolutely failed in the market.

The “hot” film in 1959 was “Some Like it Hot” with Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemon. Here’s Jack and Tony as the two hilarious musicians hiding out from gangsters in dressed as girls.

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(If you’ve never seen the motion picture, find a copy you’ll probably love it).

As for music, the memorable and enthusiastic song actually written in 1951 by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller became a big hit in ’59.

I'm going to Kansas City
Kansas City here I come
I'm going to Kansas City
Kansas City here I come
They got some crazy little women there
And I'm gonna get me one

I'm gonna be standing on the corner
Twelfth Street and Vine
I'm gonna be standing on the corner
Twelfth Street and Vine
With my Kansas City baby
And a bottle of Kansas City wine

Well I might take a train
I might take a plane
But if I have to walk
I'm goin' just the same
I'm going to Kansas City
Kansas City here I come
They got some crazy little women there

And I’m gonna get me one

Another big hit was a romantic song that hit the heartstrings of a lot of people: Mr. Blue, written by James Perrot.

Our guardian star lost all his glow
The day that I lost you
He lost all his glitter the day you said, no
And his silver turned to blue
Like him, I am doubtful that your love is true
But if you decide to call on me
Ask for Mr. Blue

I'm Mr. Blue (wah-a-wah-ooh)
When you say you love me (ah, Mr. Blue)
Then prove it by goin' out on the sly
Provin' your love isn't true
Call me Mr. Blue

I'm Mr. Blue (wah-a-wah-ooh)
When you say you're sorry (ah, Mr. Blue)
Then turn around, head for the lights of town
Hurtin' me through and through

1960

The 1960s began with sit-ins. That is with a non-violent war on bias and racism. Four black students made news when they refused to leave a Woolworth lunch counter in Greensboro North Carolina

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. Such brave sit-ins in Nashville, Tennessee caused over 75 arrests but the black community continued to be determined to gain respect for themselves and equal freedom in their community and country. It was going to take time but it was going to happen!

Here’s a common sign found in public places and the difference in cleanliness and quality.

President John (Jack) Kennedy was elected president this year.

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He would prove to be an equal rights advocate. This was also the year that The Fantasticks opened in the small Sullivan Street Playhouse in Greenwich Village—it was destined to become the longest playing production in off-Broadway history and is still on the boards someplace.

The phenomenon of the year, however, was the approval for the birth control pill. Historic U.S. morals were about to change…forever.

A rather unexpected song hit the top of the charts this year, a song written by J.P. Richardson also known as the Big Bopper with title: Runnin’ Bear.”

On the bank of the river
Stood Running Bear
Young Indian brave
On the other side of the river
Stood his lovely Indian maid
Little White Dove was her name
Such a lovely sight to see
But their tribes fought with each other
So their love could never be

Running Bear loved Little White Dove
With a love big as the sky
Running Bear loved Little White Dove
With a love that couldn't die

1961

‘1961 continued the feeling of the “golden Years” but America was growing up them in terms of losing its contact with the “old ways.” Indeed, I have always looked at the 60s as the gateway to modernism. Prices were still pretty good though…but that would begin changing by the end of the decade.

Gallon of milk                 95 cents

Loaf of bread                   20 cents 

Dozen eggs                      53 cents

Pound of Sirloin steak     85 cents

Pound of bacon                  79 cents

Six-pack of Pepsi Cola    59 cents

Six pack of beer              99 cents

2 dozen oranges               89 cents

A can of hair spray           47 cents

A gallon of gas                 25 cents

A good pair of men’s

Oxford shoes                   $12.95

The Peace Corps was launched this year, a pet project of President Kennedy to aid undeveloped countries in skills such as farming and health. At the same time 400 advisors were being sent to Vietnam. (There would be a much greater number than this in secret).

A group of mostly northern blacks and whites formed by the organization called the Congress of Racial Equality (C.O.R.E.) became known as freedom riders. Their basic mission to make sure the south was conforming to new segregation laws. The group was met with mob violence, often beaten and consistently jailed. The mobocracy there became so violent that the Attorney General, Bobby Kennedy, was asked to send in 600 federal marshals to restore order. Equality was coming at a high price.

During 1961 about the only thing that was held in common between the North and South was a hit song: Big Bad John recorded by Jimmy Dean.

Ev'ry mornin' at the mine you could see him arrive
He stood six foot six and weighed two forty five
Kinda broad at the shoulder and narrow at the hip
And everybody knew ya didn't give no lip to Big John.
Big John, Big John, Big Bad John Big John

Nobody seemed to know where John called home
He just drifted into town and stayed all alone
He didn't say much, kind of quiet and shy
And if you spoke at all, you just said "Hi" to Big John.

And speaking of the 1961 charts—another great hit of that year was Ray Charles, Hit the Road Jack.

Hit the road Jack and don’t you come back no more, no more, no more

Hit the road Jack and don’t come back no more

What you say?

Hit the road Jack and don’t you come back no more, no more, no more

Whoa Woman, oh woman don’t treat me so mean

You’re the meanest old woman that I’ve ever seen

I guess if you said so

I’d have to pack up my bag and go

Hit the road Jack and don’t you come back no more, no more, no more

1962

This was a year that was to unfold into awesome historical impact. In begins with John Glenn becoming America’s first person to orbit the earth in a spacecraft named, Friendship 7. A few months later America’s most admired, beloved 

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queen of the movies died—she was only 36 years old and died under suspicious circumstances. Here is the photograph she was probably best known for. All news, however, positive and negative faded away in the wake of a near world disaster—In October of 1962 the world came virtually within seconds of a nuclear holocaust.

The two world’s superpowers, represented by Kennedy and Khrushchev, were butting heads over Russian missiles in Cuba.

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The demand from the United States was to remove the missiles and stop other deliveries or the consequences would be devastating. America went into a state of Defcon-2, a state of readiness that is next to war itself. The historian Paul Johnson tells u that, “Missile crews were placed on maximum alert. Some 800 b47s, 550 B52s and seventy B58s were prepared with bomb-bays closed for immediate take-off from their dispersal positions. Over the Atlantic were 90 B52s carrying 100 Atlas, fifty Titans and twelve Minuteman missiles.” In short at any second, as said, all hell could have broken lose and the world, as we know it, would have been changed for more than a thousand years. To the relief of the entire world Khrushchev agreed to take the missiles off Cuba.

As for top songs of that year—two memorable love songs come to mind:

First the Ray Charles big hit, I Can’t Stop Loving You.

I can’t stop loving you

I’ve made up my mind

To live in memories of the lonesome times

I can’t stop wanting you

Its useless to say

So I’ll just live life in dreams of yesterday

a—dreams of yesterday

Those happy  hours that we once knew

Though long ago they still make me blue

They say that time heals a broken heart

But time has stood still since we’ve been a apart

I can’t stop loving you…

And the memorable Rambling Rose by Nat King Cole written by Marijohn Wilkin and Fred B. Burch:

Rambling Rose, Rambling Rose

Why you ramble no one knows

Wild and wind blown

That’s how you’ve grown

Who can paint you, my Rambling Rose

1963

In this year President Kennedy announced that segregation was immoral and that “no one has been barred on account of his race for fighting or dying for America; there are no “white” or “colored” signs on foxholes or graveyards of battle.

That observation hit a great many people as absolute…younger people especially responded to the very hypocrisies of racism and sexism; the traditions of countless cultures as well as our own.

This was also the year that Martin Luther King

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gave his “I have a dream” speech. He said: “I have a dream. It is a dream chiefly rooted in the American Dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed. We hold that these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” The crowd roared with applause and the speech continued before more than 200,000 in his audience—whites and blacks. He was gaining an extreme and faithful following and some called him the Gandhi of the U.S.

A few months later, in Dallas, Texas President Kennedy was murdered by an assassin’s bullet. The country went into shock. A man by the name of Lee Harvey Oswald was said to have been the shooter but there remains a lot of controversy of who really was behind the killing. Oswald was shot and killed by Jack Ruby, a man with connections to the mob before he might deliver that information but we will probably never find out.

A big hit song of this year was written by Bernie Wayne and Lee Morris. Perhaps you remember, Blue Velvet:

She wore blue velvet

Bluer than velvet was the night

Softer than satin was the light

From the starsShe wore blue velvet

Bluer than velvet were her eyes

Warmer than May her tender sighs

Love was oursa love I held tightly

Feeling the rapture grow

Like a flame burning brightly

But when she left, gone was the glow ofBlue velvetShe wore blue velvet

Bluer than velvet was the night

Softer than satin was the light

From the starsShe wore blue velvet

Bluer than velvet were her eyes

Warmer than May her tender sighs

Love was oursa love I held tightly

Feeling the rapture grow

Like a flame burning brightly

But when she left, gone was the glow ofBlue velvet

She wore blue velvet

Bluer than velvet was the night

Softer than satin was the light

From the stars

She wore blue velvet

Bluer than velvet were her eyes

Warmer than May her tender sighs

Love was ours

a love I held tightly

Feeling the rapture grow

Like a flame burning brightly

But when she left, gone was the glow of

Blue velvet Blue velvet

She wore blue velvet

Bluer than velvet was the night

Softer than satin was the light

From the stars...

1964

I was in the U.S. Army in 1964 the year the Beetles came to America and the early sparks of the Flower Child Movement were being stirred. Incidentally “flower Power” was a term created by the poet Allen Ginsburg. Anyway, the big news of 1964 was that our Navy ships were attacked in the Tonkin Gulf

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by North Vietnamese torpedo boats. President Johnson then quickly met with congressional leaders from both parties to confer on how to retaliate. The irate Senator Barry Goldwater said that, “We cannot allow the American flag to be shot at anywhere on the earth” and the American people quickly agreed. As a result we launched a large offensive in Vietnam against the North and the “war” was soon to be on. There was only one problem that the American people didn’t know at the time. It was a fluke, a political play to get Americans behind a war…the attack in the Tonkin Gulf…never happened.

There were two songs hot on the charts that year. First Johnny Cash’s hit, “I Walk the Line.”

I keep a close watch on this heart of mine
I keep my eyes wide open all the time
I keep the ends out for the tie that binds
Because you're mine, I walk the line

I find it very, very easy to be true
I find myself alone when each day is through
Yes, I'll admit that I'm a fool for you
Because you're mine, I walk the line

As sure as night is dark and day is light
I keep you on my mind both day and night
And happiness I've known proves that it's right
Because you're mine, I walk the line

And a snappy tune from the Beetles: A Hard Day’s Night, written by John Lennon

It's been a hard day's night
And I've been working like a dog.
It's been a hard day's night;
I should be sleeping like a log.
But when I get home to you,
I find the things that you do
Will make me feel alright.
You know I work all day
To get you money to buy you things.
And it's worth it just to here you say,
You're gonna give me everything.
So why on earth should I moan,
'Cos when I get you alone
You know I feel okay.
When I'm home everything seems to be right.
When I'm home feeling you holding me tight, tight, yeah.
It's been a hard day's night
 
1965

The Vietnam War was getting hot and heavy as early as January of this year—the U.S. was on a “big” offensive with the quest—as always—to give Vietnam “freedom” and liberate the people. At the same time Martin Luther King led a march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama where an estimated 25,000 came to demand that blacks were given the right to vote in that state—State troopers

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drove horses into the crowd at the Edmund Pettus Bridge near Selma—the beatings and trampling of the protestors shocked much of the rest of the Nation.

At the same time a young boxer by the name of Cassius Clay was becoming the most popular boxer in modern times. It was indeed said that he returned popularity to the sport and sure enough, he did. In fact, he was not only a great fighter but a great showman as well.

This was also the year of the Watts Riots a riot that endured 34 deaths, a thousand injuries and 4,000 arrests.

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At the same time the Love and Peace movement was strong and growing. And these young people, called Flower Children and Hippies were actually destined to change many of the world’s concepts, especially diminishing racism and sexism. The popular songs of the year were quite diverse but major hits were, “Like a Rolling Stone” by a young Bob Dylan not only sang protest songs but songs of a fresh outlook reality itself.

Once upon a time you dressed so fine
You threw the bums a dime in your prime, didn't you?
People'd call, say, "Beware doll, you're bound to fall"
You thought they were all kiddin' you
You used to laugh about
Everybody that was hangin' out
Now you don't talk so loud
Now you don't seem so proud
About having to be scrounging for your next meal.

How does it feel
How does it feel
To be without a home
Like a complete unknown
Like a rolling stone?

And then there was the sleek and sexy,” I Can’t Get No Satisfaction” a Rolling Stone’s hit:

I can't get no satisfaction
I can't get no satisfaction
'Cause I try and I try and I try and I try
I can't get no, I can't get no

When I'm drivin' in my car
And that man comes on the radio
He's tellin' me more and more
About some useless information
Supposed to fire my imagination
I can't get no, oh no no no
Hey hey hey, that's what I say

I can't get no satisfaction
I can't get no satisfaction
'Cause I try and I try and I try and I try
I can't get no, I can't get no

And then back to another Bob Dylan hit, “Mr. Tambourine Man.” 

Hey ! Mr Tambourine Man, play a song for me
I'm not sleepy and there is no place I'm going to
Hey ! Mr Tambourine Man, play a song for me
In the jingle jangle morning I'll come followin' you.
Though I know that evenin's empire has returned into sand
Vanished from my hand
Left me blindly here to stand but still not sleeping
My weariness amazes me, I'm branded on my feet
I have no one to meet
And the ancient empty street's too dead for dreaming.

Hey ! Mr Tambourine Man, play a song for me
I'm not sleepy and there is no place I'm going to
Hey ! Mr Tambourine Man, play a song for me
In the jingle jangle morning I'll come followin' you.

1966

More riots occurred this year. This time in both Atlanta and Chicago:

Chigago Rioting

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These riots were primarily over civil rights and so equal rights for blacks. One would think that simply fairness and equality would be in America’s bloodstream but…it wasn’t for a great many whites.

At the same time a young, intellectual and daring Stokely Carmichael was preaching “Black Power” The indication was unwelcomed by the N.A.A.C.P as it reeked with violent overtones. This was denied, however, by Carmichael’s

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civil rights supporters who said, “Black Power is not hatred. It’s a means to bring Black Americans into the covenant of brotherhood.” This goal, for a great number of Black Power advocates didn’t last. (I was a reporter at the time and interviewed two BP members who insisted that they were going to kill “black people who were still acting like Negroes, all Jews and then all whites until…they got what they wanted). Well, their bitterness was understandable even though their tactics were unacceptable.

On a more positive note for this year is that it was the year that miniskirts came into vogue.

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(I had tremendous artistic appreciation for those skirts back then and still do).

In the meantime, the Vietnam War kept escalating and the shouts against it became louder from the hippies who protested. In 1966, however, the hippie movement was even starting to attract older people who joined their ranks of calling out for freedom and resisting the war. Our government was paying attention, if for no other reason, the massive number of folks turning their backs on the hypocrisies and pomposities of their society. This crusade incidentally was spreading worldwide, even creating change in traditional Japan…at least by groups of young people. As historian Todd Gitlin said, there were the years of hope and of rage and certainly that sums up those times.

As for the music. The Mamas and Papas had a gigantic hit this year. Monday, Monday:

Monday, Monday, so good to me

Monday, Monday, it was all I hoped it would be

Oh Monday Morning. Monday morning couldn’t guarantee

The Monday evening you would still be here with me

 

Monday, Monday, can’t trust that day

Monday, Monday, sometimes it turns out that way

On Monday morning, you gave me no warning of what was to be

 

1967

More disaster in 1967: The race riots of Detroit became the worst riots in United States history. And, Stokely Carmichael’s replacement at the top of the Students Non-violent Coordinating Committee, H. Rap Brown gave the order to, “Wage guerrilla warfare on the honkey white man.” Black Power had (openly) turned violent which in turn relit old feelings of prejudice among whites who had become advocates of Civil Rights. In any case, the damage of Detroit’s riot was estimated at a half billion dollars. The major at the time said that the city looked like World War Two Berlin.

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In contrast the hippies had gathered at the Monterey Pop Festival to indulge in what they called a Summer of Love. Around 50,000 attended to…well, make love, listen to music, get high and follow Timothy Leary’s advice to “Tune in, turn on and drop out” and to “get out of your mind and into your senses.” But while all those hippies and flower children were doing that

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the Vietnam War kept escalating and our military in Vietnam was growing to an all-time high of 500,000 U.S. forces.

Because the war was apparently escalating a few months after the Summer of Love fun, a gigantic march on the Pentagon unfolded. The thousands of protestors were met by armed National Guard who were defied by the youth attending.

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It was not just youth in this anti-war march, however. There were lots of older people including writer Norman Mailer.

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As for music; The Beatles took center stage with “Strawberry Fields Forever.”

Let me take you down, 'cause I'm going to Strawberry Fields.
Nothing is real and nothing to get hung about.
Strawberry Fields forever.

Living is easy with eyes closed, misunderstanding all you see.
It's getting hard to be someone but it all works out, it doesn't matter much to me.
Let me take you down, 'cause I'm going to Strawberry Fields.
Nothing is real and nothing to get hung about.
Strawberry Fields forever. Let me take you down, 'cause I'm going to Strawberry Fields.
Nothing is real and nothing to get hung about.
Strawberry Fields forever.

Living is easy with eyes closed, misunderstanding all you see.
It's getting hard to be someone but it all works out, it doesn't matter much to me.
Let me take you down, 'cau
se I'm going to Strawberry Fields.
Nothing is real and nothing to get hung about.
Strawberry Fields forever.

Let me take you down

‘Cause I'm going to Strawberry Fields

Nothing is real

And nothing to get hung about

Strawberry Fields forever

1968

This was a year of deep tragedy in our history. The tension between blacks and whites was growing. Indeed, now a great many blacks were retreating from wanting equal rights with whites but were thinking of creating their own society within the culture. Protestors of the war were growing

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and now politicians and other professionals were openly agreeing with what the hippies had been declaring all along. There was no real foundation for the fighting beyond, perhaps, protecting our financial investment with the French who failed to maintain their dominance in Vietnam. No matter what the (official) reasons for the war, the North Vietnamese was not weakening. Indeed, this was a year of a massive offensive into South Vietnam.

At the same time, on the home front the Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King was shot down in cold blood. It was said that a fellow by the name of James Ray was the assassin but most people white and black believe there was a deeper conspiracy than just an individual hate crime committed out of racial hatred. We will probably never know.

This was also when the President of the United States shocked the nation by making a public statement that he was “stepping down” and would not run again. (Richard Nixon was waiting in the wings).

As with so many historical events we will probably never know what prompted Johnson to step down—poor health or the inside knowledge that America was losing its first war? Perhaps he simply could not stand being out of favor with so many?

Then, in June of this year, Presidential candidate Robert Kennedy

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was murdered after giving his primary victory speech when a man by the name of Sirhan, Sirhan shot him. His assassination occurred, in  California, just four years after his brother (Jack) Kennedy two months after Martin Luther King’s murder.

As one of his last acts in office, President Johnson announced that America aerial and navy bombing of North Vietnam will cease with the hope of negotiating peace.  This was a thin but solid hope for ending the war. Lots of Americans were relieved.

This was also the year the Richard Nixon became president.

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As for top songs of this year, a surprisingly simple tune and complex lyrics captures America’s ear with the Paul Simon hit. Mrs. Robinson:

And here's to you, Mrs. Robinson
Jesus loves you more than you will know (Whoa, whoa, whoa)
God bless you please, Mrs. Robinson
Heaven holds a place for those who pray
(Hey, hey, hey...hey, hey, hey)

We'd like to know a little bit about you for our files
We'd like to help you learn to help yourself
Look around you, all you see are sympathetic eyes
Stroll around the grounds until you feel at home

And here's to you, Mrs. Robinson
Jesus loves you more than you will know (Whoa, whoa, whoa)
God bless you please, Mrs. Robinson
Heaven holds a place for those who pray
(Hey, hey, hey...hey, hey, hey)

Living is easy with eyes closedMisunderstanding all you see

1969

1969 was a strange mixture of triumph and tragedy. First President Nixon said he was beginning the groundwork for pulling our troops out of Vietnam by 1972. This did not diminish the efforts of the protestors. In fact, the most massive Washington D.C. protest in the capitals history took place in November of this year—a whopping 250,000 marched from D.C.

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to San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park chanting to “give peace a chance.” And speaking of peace, for the “peace and Love” culture this was the year of Woodstock.

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Woodstock

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was more than a successful outdoor concert. It was a statement of 400,000 people mostly young but older folks as well mingling as a single unit of individuals called “a peaceful kingdom” for one full weekend. And you were apt to see anything
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over that weekend because there were no rules and no judgment values except to let each other “be…” And, the sea of people attending were entertained by the best in the business—Jimi Hendri
th ree
x Country Joe McDonald
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Joe Cocker
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and the fabulous Janis Joplin
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along with a couple of the greatest groups of the times. Here’s Grace Slick performing with Jefferson Airplane. (The music played day and night).

At the same time this rather beautiful gathering of nearly a half million people there had been a horrifying tragedy in the same month. The Manson Murders!

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Charlie Manson (an ultimate psychopath) with some of his most faithful cult member murdered the beautiful, Sharon Tate along with Leno and Rosemary LaBianca. Sharon Tate happened to be eight months pregnant when she was stabbed to death. The Manson crime wave has gone down as one of the most degenerate of the century. Manson remains in prison to this day.

The most positive even of the year was the moon landing. Astronauts Neil Armstrong

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and Edwin E. Aldrin
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were the first human beings to land on the moon. Armstrong would be first with Aldrin following around twenty minutes later. This was a gigantic human achievement and one thought impossible for many thousands of years.    

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It seems fitting that   one of the hits of 1969 was Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” written by Ronald Field. Stephanie Ridel. Moises Modesto and Ashish Sheth.

And now, the end is here
And so I face the final curtain
My friend, I'll say it clear
I'll state my case, of which I'm certain
I've lived a life that's full
I traveled each and ev'ry highway
And more, much more than this, I did it my way

Regrets, I've had a few
But then again, too few to mention
I did what I had to do and saw it through without exemption
I planned each charted course, each careful step along the byway
And more, much more than this, I did it my way
[ Lyrics from: http://www.lyricsfreak.com/f/frank+sinatra/my+way_20056378.html ]
Yes, there were times, I'm sure you knew
When I bit off more than I could chew
But through it all, when there was doubt
I ate it up and spit it out
I faced it all and I stood tall and did it my way

And in contrast more of a touch of Americana, John C. Forgerty’s, “Born on the Bijou.”

Now when I was just a little boy standin' to my Daddy's knee
My Poppa said son don't let the man get you do what he done to me
'cause he'll get you 'cause he'll get you now.

I can remember the fourth of July runnin' through the back wood bare.
And I can still hear my old hound dog barkin' chasin' down a hoodoo there
chasin' down a hoodoo there.

Born on the bayou
Born on the bayou
Born on the bayou.

Wish I was back on the bayou rollin' with some Cajun Queen.
Wishin' I were a freight train, oh, just a-chooglin' on down to New Orleans.

Born on the bayou
Born on the bayou
Born on the bayou.

And finally the unexpected Johnny Cash hit, “A Boy Named Sue,” reminding us that we were also a people with a sense of humor.

My daddy left home when I was three
And he didn't leave much to ma and me
Just this old guitar and an empty bottle of booze.
Now, I don't blame him cause he run and hid
But the meanest thing that he ever did
Was before he left, he went and named me "Sue."

Well, he must o' thought that is quite a joke
And it got a lot of laughs from a' lots of folk,
It seems I had to fight my whole life through.
Some gal would giggle and I'd get red
And some guy'd laugh and I'd bust his head,
I tell ya, life ain't easy for a boy named "Sue."

Well, I grew up quick and I grew up mean,
My fist got hard and my wits got keen,
I'd roam from town to town to hide my shame.
But I made a vow to the moon and stars
That I'd search the honky-tonks and bars
And kill that man who gave me that awful name.

Well, it was Gatlinburg in mid-July
And I just hit town and my throat was dry,
I thought I'd stop and have myself a brew.
At an old saloon on a street of mud,
There at a table, dealing stud,
Sat the dirty, mangy dog that named me "Sue
."

                                                                 SUMMARY

                                                                    Part      Three                                               

The 1960s was an amazing and awesome decade; a time of social and cultural changes; a time when, for the first time in history, the people began to have distrust for their government and even the writers of American history; a time of questioning our motives and morals and a time of denying the validity of our mores. Vietnam was a 1960’s creation becoming the most unpopular war in our history—a war that would eventually take nearly 60,000 American lives before our retreat. Most Americans could not believe that we had essentially lost a war, including me! The loss still runs deep and sour in the belly of most (older) people in the land. On the other hand we were raised to see things in black and white hats…we were never made privy to shades of grey.

The music of the 1960s is intriguing especially with many of the song and singers not mentioned in the above like the beautiful, enchanting voice of Joan Baez who recorded, among so many songs, the Bob Dylan hit, “Blowin’ in the Wind.” A kind of summary to the mood of the incomprehensible 60s.

How many roads must a man walk down
Before you call him a man?
How many seas must a white dove sail
Before she sleeps in the sand?
Yes, how many times must the cannon balls fly
Before they're forever banned?
The answer my friend is blowin' in the wind
The answer is blowin' in the wind.

Yes, how many years can a mountain exist
Before it's washed to the sea?
Yes, how many years can some people exist
Before they're allowed to be free?
Yes, how many times can a man turn his head
Pretending he just doesn't see?
The answer my friend is blowin' in the wind
The answer is blowin' in the wind.

 

 

 

 

 It's getting hard to be someone

But it all works out It doesn't matter much to me Let me take you down‘

Cause I'm going to Strawberry Fields

Nothing is real

And nothing to get hung about

Strawberry Fields forever

Let me take you down

‘Cause I'm going to Strawberry Fields

Nothing is real

And nothing to get hung about

Strawberry Fields forever
Living is easy with eyes closed

Misunderstanding all you see

It's getting hard to be someone

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Comments

Nov 11, 2012 11:27pm
askformore
On your Grand Tour of History, you have now come to a period which I very well remember. Thumbs up!
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