You say you want a revolution? : Popular music and revolt in France, the United States, and Britain during the late 1960s

Mitchell, Stuart (2005). You say you want a revolution? : Popular music and revolt in France, the United States, and Britain during the late 1960s. Historia Actual(8) pp. 7–18.

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Abstract

It is almost impossible to understand the youth protest movements of the 1960s without some appreciation of the importance of that decade's popular music. This music and ideas of personal and political liberation and self-expression were closely linked. This article analyses the role of popular music (rock music) in the 1960s' counterculture. It adopts an explicitly comparative historical approach to the phenomenon, utilising case studies of three contrasting societies – two in Western Europe, plus the United States. The argument here is that despite that this music challenged many social convention and helped to 'emancipate' its consumers, its uses and role in the USA, Britain, and France were frequently dissimilar. Often, these were determined by differing national circumstances and traditions. The piece disputes also the notion of a united and radical counterculture and attempts to illuminate the nature of youth rebellion in each of the countries that it examines. This paper seeks to suggest that the 1960s' youth-based movements for social change were frequently responding to local or parochial problems in their protests. 1968 is taken as the main focus here, partly because it permits an examination of the intense Parisian revolt that broke out in that year, but also because it is frequently conceptualised as the decade's hinge. 1968 is the year when the optimistic mind-set of the preceding five or so years started to give way to frustration and disillusionment.

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