I wrote this post some time ago but never posted it. A friend of a friend is writing a paper on the topic and was asking for the links and citations. Since I do not know how to send him a draft of a blog post, I will just post this as is. The following are a few loose thoughts and a few music videos from the 60’s and 70’s.
Music videos of the Rolling Stones from the years 1965 – 1972 illustrate the cultural transformation which took root in North America during that same time period. Watch it for yourself.
Timothy O’Leary: “After two years of prison and exile I was cut off from American contacts. No sense of mission, no source of income. Everywhere I went that summer I heard the low-down beat of the Stones celebrating Sister Morphine and brown Sugar, Mick singing about his basement room and his needle and his spoon, wailing the profound philosophic thought of the season: “I stuck a needle in my arm. It did some good, it did some harm.” (Lattin, The Harvard Psychedelic Club, 178)
Pat Buchanan writes in his memoir, “Amid the rising counterculture of the sixties, Nixon sought to celebrate America’s traditional culture, hosting a night at the White House on April 24, 1969, featuring Duke Ellington, who was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Len Garment, a jazz musician himself, had been behind bringing in the legend. In July 1970, after some of us pressed the President, Johnny Cash, the Man in Black, performed at the White House. On August 1, 1972, the Carpenters, Karen and her brother Richard, who were performing in the D.C. area, were invited to the White House to meet the President. Karen, twenty-two, was national youth chair for the American Cancer Society. Nixon would invite them back to entertain at the dinner for West German chancellor Willy Brandt on May 1, 1973.” (Nixon’s White House Wars, P. Buchanan)
Johnny Cash had his own issues with drugs, which he describes in his song “Hurt”. The lyrics to this song read like the book of Ecclesiastes and offer a striking to contrast to Mick Jagger’s more cynical attitude toward drugs. Cash was also invited by Nixon to perform at the White House.
There is a music video featuring Johnny Cash’s song “God’s Gonna Cut You Down.” Curiously, Mick Jagger, together with other famous actors and musicians, make an appearance in the video. I don’t know the story behind the video’s production but it is either a parody of the song (and of the Gospels), or I am missing something, which is possible since I grew up in the jungle and do not know half these people.