Why I Love The Sixties And Want To Write About Them

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.

Youth

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.

Energy

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.

Invention

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.

Art

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.

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7 responses to “Why I Love The Sixties And Want To Write About Them

  1. I absolutely know what you’re talking about. I’m writing about the sixties too (or more accurately, the early seventies). And I’m old enough to remember it. Peace and love to you too!

  2. Also, the Beatles broke up and went their separate ways. They hit some high notes now and then, but never recaptured the magic of their years together.

  3. i am very interested in writing a non fiction book about the sixties but I am having trouble getting started. and like you I am only 20 years old so I was no where near the sixties but for some reason I am very fascinated with it, if I had a time machine id choose to go back to live there. also exile on main street is one of the best albums of all time 🙂 if you have any ideas on how I can start my first book id very much appreciate it! I feel like the first line is very important so I am trying to figure out something great to say, but as always for me whenever I think to hard it just doesn’t work?

    • Hi, Someone once told me that the best way to do it is simply by doing it. My advice would be to just get stuck in, so what if it’s not a masterpiece on your first draft? Inspiration will come when you start to get on the journey. Just start in which ever way feels right at the time.

      Also, I agree, Exile is one of my favourite albums too. Keith Richards strung out on heroin near Nice, brilliant. That was 70/71 though and the wheels of the sixties had started coming off by then.

  4. I, too, am a great “Exile” fan. I agree with the advice to “just do it.” You won’t know whether the beginning is right until you’re well into it. For inspiration, you might read some biographies of 60s-70s rock bands–that’s what I’m doing.

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