60’s Nostalgia- Emptiness and Longing with the Mamas and the Popas

60’s nostalgia for me is completely different from 50’s nostalgia. With the exception of beatniks who can only be understood as precursors of the 60’s, the 50’s were upbeat, optomistic and idealistic. Everything was great and only getting better. Work hard and be responsible and anything is possible. The sky is the limit. All problems are solvable. People are good. It was a wonderful time to be alive and, of course, human nature being what it is, all this optomism had to be stopped. Which brings us to the 60’s. America got sophistocated.

The End of Eden

In the 60’s it was like the kids tasted the apple in the garden and the scales fell from their eyes. They saw the ugly world hidden behind the optomism of the 50’s. People were nasty. America was evil and oppressive. It felt so good after years of Howdy Doody and Dudly Dooright to aknowledge the problems of racism and imperialism. Americans wern’t any better than any body else and our country had its own dark side. We weren’t special. We didn’t have a mission or a responsibility. We could let go without the world falling apart because it already had. We could just let go and be ‘Bad to the Bone.’  Welcome to the 60’s.

The slide to immorality was slow and difficult to perceive.

The 60’s were exhilerating and the slide from morality to depravity was slow and hard to identify.  One of the signs was in the music. Upbeat artists like the Everly Brothers with their folksy hometown morality faded to be replaced by longing and striving for something different. Folk music was popular with the creation of false memories of an imagined real American culture far from the suburban and small town life in the 50’s. One example was the Mamas and the Poppas whose open harmonies and lyrics of longing spoke to the early 60’s. Maybe a new place would make everything all right. Throughout the turmoil of college, the Vietnam War and Civil Rights, California Dreamin was a clarion call to find that place where the better life was still possible.

The Mamas and the Papas never rivaled the tsunami of British rockers in the 60’s but they captureed the longing and emptiness that was America in the 60’s. Yearning and drifting was the mood and the Mamas and the Poppas captured that emptiness, Nothing was under control, even Monday.

{ 3 comments… add one }
  • Steve Scott Site July 24, 2010, 10:18 am

    Ralph,
    Very nicely written article. Having been born in the 70’s I have no real idea of what the 60’s were like. Just that for good or bad they were extremely important in our development. It kinda hits home discussing the music too, as that is one of the ways a lot of us “younger generation” view the sixties is through a lot of the great music to come out of those times.
    Steve Scott Site’s last Blog Post ..How to Organize Your Life – 11 Simple Tips

    • Ralph July 24, 2010, 12:35 pm

      Steve,
      I don’t know if you can tell how conflicted I am about the 60’s. They pulled me both ways and they still raise big emotions. I think our country went way off track in the 60’s and I hope that there is still time to correct all that ba navigation. I was part of the problem and hope that I am also part of the solution. It was a heady time and hard to think straight – especially with the pot.

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