For the past ten years, I have been giving an academic course entitled “The Music of the Sixties: Evolution of the Revolution” at Tel Aviv University and the Holon Institute of Technology.
Our course is about the music, the songs, the melodies, the lyrics, the writers and performers, the producers and us, the audience. We listen to records (real ones), watch videos. The students form a band, and we clap (on the 2 and 4) and join in. We have a facebook group for each course where students can comment and post their own favorites.
But it’s also about the youth culture of the sixties, cutting through racial and gender inequality, the war in Vietnam, and the dangers of materialism. Naive and optimistic, the ‘message in the vinyl’ is fast-forwarded to us in the haunting cover of the Youngbloods. It is passed down by Donovan singing Buffy Ste-Marie’s “Universal Soldier”, by Leonard Cohen in the “Sacrifice of Isaac”, and in “Aquarius” of the mega-musical “Hair”.
We ask some difficult questions.
Here are some of my thoughts, mantras, comments and musings based on the era, the course and my own life as a ‘product’ of the sixties era and culture. Feel free to love them, share them, or ignore them.
But first, let’s remember Hair, the musical that wrapped the sixties into three hours of splendid music. Hair had it all, just like the sixties: Equality, sex, love, race, peace and war, drugs.
In the course we talk a lot about innovation. For a new idea, product, song or sound to succeed, it has to be accepted. People tend to accept change when it is incremental, evolutionary rather than revolutionary.
Keeping it simple.
Most of the students in the course want to get academic credits for the course.
Do they know how little university exams have to do with life?
Television was in its infancy in the early sixties. It was bad. Now it’s worse, much worse. Check out “Satisfaction”. The Stones wrote a good song for a change.
Some of the ‘students’ in the course just show up for the exam. They are the minimalists. They miss out on the experience. Minimalism is bad.
In our course, we try to keep cynicism at bay. It’s dangerous. It’s infectious. And you can infect your children, too.
I don’t know whether the students realize it, but each course is a sixties-style social experiment. They don’t have to form a band, they don’t have to post on our facebook group, they don’t have to sing and play music, they don’t have to be attentive, they don’t have to dance, and they don’t have to bring munchies to our final party. Some of them do. Sometimes, many. We try to create a mini-Woodstock environment. Sometimes, we even succeed!
No matter how old you are, you always have 100% of your life left to live. Don’t waste time regretting things. Jump out of bed in the morning and make dreams come true!
The students have youth. Some of them have wide-eyed optimism. They all should.
Do they realize how lucky I am to be teaching them?
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