Posts Tagged The Beatles

Revolution 14

After watching the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Beatles coming to the U.S., I’ve come to the only logical conclusion: we suck.

Today’s pop stars have nothing on Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, and the juxtaposition was actually a little painful to watch.

Of course, music is a subjective thing. Some poor lost souls will always think Katy Perry is better than the Fab Four, and they are entitled to their opinion.

However, there is one part of the Beatle legacy that is undeniably missing from today’s cultural scene: revolution.

People celebrate the 50th anniversary of the arrival of the Beatles in the U.S. because it marked a major shift in American culture. They brought rock n’ roll to the mainstream, and became powerful advocates for political change.

Today’s music is many things, but it’s not revolutionary.

Yet the connection between music and political protest is still viewed as important. After all, shouldn’t there by a ’60s-style mass cultural movement for gay rights, or against the hegemony of the One Percent?

The idea of perpetual revolution has always been an important part of American political philosophy.

Thomas Jefferson believed that a revolution should occur every few decades, if for no other reason than to remind leaders that true power rests with the people.

“The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is it’s natural manure,” Jefferson said.

However, I feel that’s been difficult for the generations that came after the Baby Boom, because there’s a pervading sense that all of the revolting has been taken care of.

Younger generations share more values with previous generations than the Boomers did with the “Greatest Generation,” which won World War II, but was also intensely rigid and bigoted.

Like most things in 21st century America, the battle has become hopelessly nuanced in discrete, with no zeitgeist to unite different elements behind a common front.

Epochal cultural shifts like the emergence of rock n’ roll, or the political awakening of the 1960s don’t happen very often, which might explain why looking at today’s crop of artists, it’s hard to spot another Paul McCartney.

Then again, revolutionary ideas wouldn’t be very revolutionary if they arrived punctually. If we want social change, we need to do the best we can to make it happen in whatever way we can.

That way, we can brag to our children about how much better our generation is than theirs.

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Car shows are stuck in the ’50s

A trip to a large car show last weekend reminded me of one of the most puzzling aspects of the show scene: the music. There is music wafting from the loudspeakers at every car show, to create atmosphere, I guess, and it is always from the 1950s. To the show n’ shine crowd, Elvis is still king.

To clarify, this was a vintage car show, as are most of the popular public events held throughout the summer in the U.S. I wasn’t expecting the DJ to blast Lady Gaga, but the organizers should have been more conscious of the variety of eras the assembled cars represented.

Yes, there were many 1955-57 Thunderbirds, Buick Roadmasters, and Cadillacs with pedestrian-impaling tail fins. But the cutoff date was 1971, so there were many cars from the 1960s, from Buick Rivieras to Camaros and Chargers. There was even an E-Type Jaguar.

At car shows, music is supposed to create a nostalgic ambiance, but don’t the people reminiscing about their youth in the Kennedy/Johnson years want some era-appropriate songs?

It’s not like there is a lack of choice. In 1967, Chevy brought out the Camaro, and the Beatles released Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. If you bought a Hemi Charger in 1968, Jimi Hendrix’s cover of All Along the Watchtower would be one of the newest songs on the radio.

If going to a vintage car show is all about reliving the “glory days,” people should not be subjected to music that was out of style when the now-45-year-old muscle cars were new.

In fact, music choice should work the other way, too: if a Model T shows up, play some ragtime, or crank some big band tunes for the military enthusiasts in their WWII Jeeps.

Cars are a major part of American popular culture, and that connection is not confined to the 1950s. You can only listen to the “Golden Oldies” so many times.

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