The sixties conjure up a spirit of freedom, independence and “creativity just for the sake of it”, more than any other recent decade. I love hearing about the sixties, watching films and news reels, and listening to the abundance of good music. One of the novels that I am in the process of releasing has it’s roots in the sixties. But I have to be honest…
I was born in the late 70’s. My love affair with the sixties is something that scientists would call constructed nostalgia. I’m going to explain what it is about the sixties that makes me create a fondness for them, even though I wasn’t there.
It was a decade where the youth found their own voice for the first time in history. They had channels to express themselves and spread their message to the masses. This created the energy and air of possibility that can only be found in the young. There was passion and unwavering belief that caused this melting pot of ideas. It was almost tribal as nearly every scene that developed had a passionate sworn enemy. E.g. mods and rockers, folkies and blues, young and old, Beatles and Stones. Society almost needed to polarise your options just to understand what was happening.
There was a lot of civil rights activity because people found that they had a voice, again for the first time in such a widespread way. There was a conflict in nearly every walk of life which created this constant progression and seeking of new ideas. Everything was changing and people were experimenting with who they wanted to be. Before the sixties you knew who you were going to be from the day you were born, but now you could do something different.
Through this passion for seeking new ideas and new ways of doing things, everything developed. Music began to change in the fifties, with the birth of rock n’ roll, but it was in the sixties when the sound changed to the distorted, raucous sound that we know now. Technology caught up with expression and people like Jimi Hendrix would create a sound that is still replicated today.
It was the explosion of Art. A cultural revolution. A renaissance period. A coming out from the war years. The next generation who didn’t have ration books and austerity, but freedom and expression. Music, Film, Art, Poetry all testing the values of society and creating a better future. The Beatles, The Stones, The Kinks, The Beach Boys, The Mamas and the Papas, Led Zeppelin, Bob Dylan, Muhammad Ali, George Best, James Bond, David Bowie, Andy Warhol, The Graduate, Easy Rider, Hitchcock, Steve McQueen…
The great thing with constructed nostalgia is the fact that I wasn’t there so I have no associated pain with the negatives from the decade. The bad stuff (Vietnam etc.) can be looked upon with interest without emotion, and yet the good stuff can be fully associated with and you can allow it talk to you in the same way as it would have if you had been there at the time. And usually only the good survives the test of time so you have a weirdly constructed Utopian view.
I had to get some sixties characters into my book, so I’ve obviously opted for some strung out, expressive hippies. (It is a comedy after all)
I thought I’d share with you my love affair of the sixties and I wonder if anyone else knows what I’m talking about with this made up historic glamourising? If you were around in the sixties don’t put a bummer on it all for me… Far out. Peace and Love.