BABY BOOMERS & Their Formative Years Examined #LondonMuseums

The Economist Magazine (UK), 9/21/16.

“You Say You Want a Revolution: Records and Rebels 1966-1970”, a new show at the Victoria and Albert museum in London, takes us to the heart of these questions. It covers just 1,826 days of the counterculture. This idealistic yet turbulent period is explored in six sections that span across fashion, street protests, drugs, festivals, communes and technology.

… In 1968, the Beatles recorded “Revolution”, an explicitly political song expressing disillusionment with how the decade’s protests had become violent. The revolutionary verve of the 1960s—its utopian impulses based on peace and love, on civil, gender and sexual rights—had by 1968 spurred militant factions. The song had two versions. The first, recorded in May, was a blues-inspired shuffle. By July, the Beatles had recorded an electric version with guitar solos howling a deliberately distorted sound. Referring to both protestor and state brutality, John Lennon originally sang the ambiguous lines: “When you talk about destruction, don’t you know that you can count me out…in.” By the second, he sang the unequivocal “count me out.”

Revolutionary fervour had turned sour. Martin Luther King Jr. had been assassinated earlier in the year. A spate of protests in America and across Europe resulted in clashes with police. As Lennon sang in Abbey Road studios in May, nearly half a million French students marched through the streets of Paris demanding the fall of Charles de Gaulle’s government, calling for state reform and vehemently asserting sexual freedom. The decade’s chilled-out optimism was coming to a close. Commentators assessing the political and social fallout inevitably asked: had the people won against the Establishment, or had everybody, both state and protestors, lost? Did we need to care, since the world would never be the same again?

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