Don Maclean sang of the day the music died. I’m trying to pinpoint where it made a definite move to the risque, i.e. when they became more concerned with pushing boundaries than showcasing fun.
This is a political post.
It was in a Ford Zephyr when I first became musically sentient, following the songs on the car radio – Del Shannon featured big, Sandy Shaw, the Exciters with Tell Him:
There were songs redolent of an earlier era of harmonies and relative social harmony at home [if world conflagration] – the Andrews Sisters and doo wop – this is obviously not them but the music is:
Little Richard, Elvis, Ritchie Valens brought in a harder edge:
… but still pretty innocent, like this:
That was 1963 and it continued on – I Will Follow Him, It’s My Party but other things were mixed in with those on the hit parade, the Top 100, Top 40.
Other elements crept in. Just the occasional song here and there and always de rigeur was that it was up tempo, in a spirit of good fun, no one could possibly object. PC terms were invented for those who could be expected to object – squares, wrinklies etc.
The process had begun of marginalizing potential opposition, reinforced by the spirit of rebellion. If the 50s had thrown up rebel without a cause, now there was a cause – Vietnam, blacks, the whole shebang.
Putting those two issues to one side though, what was there in American life and that of other countries in the west which was dire in a Syria, Bangladesh, Ukraine or Iraq sort of way? Not a lot – economically safe, families still intact on the whole.
Music, film constantly told kids to be rebellious, playing on the natural instinct of a tot to say no and bawl. A song came out called Kids – what’s the matter with kids today, in the same way Hitler shook his head and tried to find a “final solution” to the enormous Jewish problem which wasn’t.
Someone was creating problems which weren’t there, relative to the world. The most immediate culprits were the radio stations and the record company execs but who was behind them with the payola?
We were the kids, we heard the songs, we had issues only of staying up later and all that but overall – nope, we didn’t relate to those songs bordering on war between the generations. Yet it was constantly, if subtly reinforced that there was an issue. A line in a song here, a line in script there.
And the feminists making out things were vastly worse than they were, that the ability to walk out on an abusive man was always there – there were no prohibitions on divorce. But that didn’t suit Friedan and fellow Marxist harpies. They had to make a song and dance about it.
I’ll remind them – they didn’t gain anything for women. It was men who voluntarily gave up their rights and positions.
So, 1960 saw Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny and one look at this vid shows how tacky it was behind the smiling teen heartthrob:
These songs designed to work the fabric of society free of its frame had to be done in a happy, cheerful, fun way so that everyone could sing along and clap along.
Rock Around the Clock had been revolutionary, Elvis the Pelvis too but they were still pretty innocent in terms of “corrupting youth”. I’m not suggesting Itsy Bitsy on its own corrupted youth but it was certainly part of the new trend to push the boundaries where perhaps they needn’t have been pushed.
Vietnam – yes. The attitude to blacks – yes. Those needed addressing. Not this other rubbish.
And into this was now worked an element of innocence gone bad – the roots of that theme are easy enough to see. Just look at Charlotte Church and Miley Cyrus.
In those days, it was Mousketeer girl Annette Funicello, the Disney epitome of Miss Clean Fun – now baring her midriff in Beach Party , although:
William Asher later said that “the key to these pictures is lots of flesh but no sex. It’s all good clean fun. No hearts are broken and virginity prevails.”
For a start, she was one of Disney’s girls and Disney has a dark history of his own which this post cannot incorporate. There were many questions about how Ms Funicello was used and abused.
Then the whole theme – late teen, early 20s, no parental supervision whatever, beach blanket bingo – was there anyone not aware what that was an invitation to? I should know as we were the kids emulating songs and movies like this. I’m not saying we were all pristine, saw the movie and suddenly turned into fornicating little devils – we were always in for that.
I am saying that such films gave it focus. And that focus was changing. Films such as West Side Story, Grease [later] and the like blended conflict, love and yes – sex. Beach Party films was about fun, fun, fun but fun meant rampant sex. This was a new element in a publicly stated sense.
The Pill had been approved in 1960, Lolita, the film, had come out in 1962. It was in the consciousness and films and music like this reinforced the social engineering someone, somewhere, wanted.
Let me say again – this was no longer about immorality – we were constantly overstepping but we knew the boundaries we were stepping over. This new message was about amorality – the message of today that anything goes, that there are no rules.
The kids, we whispered conspiratorially about this song or that – we were in the know. Multiplication was another in the same mode – all good, clean fun.
Except it wasn’t good clean fun. At least the song itself was pretty naff, catchy, about animals mating we all thought, with oblique references to us. I never took it as an open invitation to grab a girl and do it and yet it just added to the whole message, gnawing away, nagging, themes of love and commitment [see Paul and Paula above] no longer the norm.
It was just one of dozens of things exploding all around in which ideas we obviously thought about and talked about had now come into the public sphere. It’s the going public, meaning societally acceptable now, which this post is about.
In the late 90s, I don’t think anyone would have imagined hard core porn in the rooms of children all across the nations of the world. So obviously, someone is going to hell for this. This is just the end product of a process which began back in the 60s or to be more accurate, it had already been tried in the 20s but then the 30s and 40s had got in the way. One agenda killed off another temporarily.
It was 1968 when the first topless model walked on the beach in the Anglo world as the new fashion and it was expected that women would take up, would push the boundaries here – they’d been doing it on St Tropez since whenever. But they didn’t though in the Anglo-Saxon world. Like the girl in Itsy Bitsy, women or society or whatever wasn’t quite ready for that, except in Bohemian circles.
One constant theme running through all this is sheer numbers.
Sure drugs had been around for centuries, sure there were quarters of the city to go for them. This was different – this was taking it to the masses. And that’s an entirely different issue – that brings it in into the criminal sphere.
Three of the most diabolical people for what they did – both Phillipses and Mama Cass – were spreading the drug culture to the youth of America, thence around the world to youth all over but masquerading as nice Mamas and Papas. Timothy Leary was in there, Kesey, all of them. Dylan. William S Burroughs got going with the gay violence thing and the Naked Lunch.
The call to come and indulge was San Francisco, the song. And guess who wrote that song? Who was making the drugs? And the year was 1967, in order to promote Monterey. And who organized Monterey?
Have a think about that for a moment. One man in those days, unsung, just one of a group of four with songs like the innocuous Monday Monday – and three of those four were animals of the worst sort, including the butter wouldn’t melt innocent, the svelte Michelle.
The singer with the goatee was not part of it – he was attached, not married to Cass. It’s the other three to concentrate on – they were the ones pushing drugs and indiscriminate sex onto kids. No historical question of it – see posts passim or explore for yourself. And not just staying at home and supplying but Michelle was actively going out and pushing, with supplies coming from pharma. Zappa lived just down the road. Michelle herself screwing with many, many men at the time in her “open” marriage. Him too.
American values? The grapevine knew and therefore it was cool to be that way. Manson’s commune. Jim Jones later.
Here’s a link to the drug scene of the time.
The Twist clip is an interesting one, from 1962. Very early, still 50s skirts and dresses but now also skin tight slacks and lingerie in public. Musically, doo wop was gone and in-yer-face was the rage. It was catchy, Chubby Checker seemed harmless enough, the song went mega:
JFK, in a way, was loss of innocence for the world. Now came:
John Lennon’s comment – 1964
Turn on, tune in – 1966
Stones drug bust – 1967
Charles Manson – 1968
Woodstock – 1969
Deep Throat – 1972
MK Ultra exposed – 1973
Nixon followed that.
Rather than ask when it changed, better to ask when did the nasty elements largely overwhelm the innocent? One of the direct challenges to society was to resurrect Gershwin and repackage it for a new godless generation about to go their own way:
So this thing was worldwide. We’re all aware of it now, with the benefit of hindsight, recent events and the experience of age – we know there’s a Them and there’s a world culture. In those days, we were way too young and the Lie was sugar-coated. The worse and more destructive the message, the more it was likely to be uptempo, upbeat, sugar-coated and happy.
The days of the discordant dystopic, e.g. Zeppelin, metal, were still to come.
Playboy had been moderately modest, now other things came out – Hustler in 1974, mags like Frivol on the continent – the same motif again of just good fun, no one could object. Playboy had to go harder to compete.
This post is not attempting to be a complete history – it wants to pinpoint as accurately as possible when love songs changed to become about sex, when sexual mores changed sufficiently, when girls no longer played hard to get, when drugs really took over.
It looks, to me, somewhere around 1962-64.
It is possible to pin the blame on some while the others get clean away. The Phillipses and Cass were bang to rights on it. Truly evil sods, no better in a way than Brady and Hindley and yet butter wouldn’t melt with Ms Phillips – who’d think evil of them, even today? Cass at least looked as bad and as twisted as she was in real life.
This wasn’t about love, this was about Big Pharma demoralizing America through talented songwriters like Phillips and through attractive women like his lost soul wife. In this song, note the heartfelt desire for all things good at the beginning, the reaffirmation of vows, the goodness of America. Behind the scenes she was screwing all comers – seven documented cases, many others mooted and then further husbands after she finally split from him.
The joke was truly being played on America and its values:
Michelle looked an angel in many photos but was caught out in shots here and there:
She was actively pushing in Laurel Canyon and that was going out to the world. This was the “In” scene. In-scenes were recreated all around the youth world. Grace Slick.
There’s good evidence [posts passim] that Bob Hope had been one of the evil muvvers who predated this lot, with his forces tours and entourage of young females and pharma. How could anyone think evil of it?
They may be nostalgic memories for aging hippies and even for people like me – Monday Monday is a great song, well written. But what was going down behind it was nasty. It was no more nor less than the demoralization of America, enveloping it in a disloyal [to the country] world culture of the now lampooned but not very funny in reality sex and drugs, the lotus effect on youth, the cancer of leftism – Hanoi Jane, John Kerry, Al Gore, the Kennedys and on the other side – the money.
As the Doors pointed out: