The British Music Invasion
The whole country was in a deep depressive doldrums after the assassination, and for good reason. The British invasion was needed by Americans to snap out of this funk, and this was just the thing to do it. (One thing that Americans used to avoid the depressing times was to use illegal drugs, but that will be elaborated on later This is what it was all about; sure it was about the music, but it brought more, it brought a way of life across the ocean. A lot of the invasion stayed in that generation, many bands and songs that were big then are all but totally forgotten about now.Bands such as the Searchers, the Swinging Blue Jeans, and Gerry and the Pacemakers all had one or two great hits which stayed in that time. This however, was part of the beauty of it all.
Some of the music stayed with us thirty years later, and that’s great, it gives us a good sampling of the time. On the other hand, you have the music that was meant for the era, and not for future generations. That is part of the uniqueness of it all, and Lester Bangs says it best when he tells how it doesn’t matter that the music sin t listened to anymore, that’s not what it was for.It was for the time, it was a “timepiece”. On the other hand, we have the bands that were not simply “timepieces” and were able to stick around three decades later. These bands are the Who, he Kinks, the Rolling Stones and the Beetles. This is another aspect of why the invasion was so influential.
Where would we be in rock and roll with out the Beetles, and on a slightly lesser extent the Stones. These bands transformed rock into what we know it today. Without them, the way might not have been paved for Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and countless others.Both sides of the spectrum were extremely important for the invasion to have the long lasting effects it continues to have. Culture itself was radically changed in both waves of the invasion, the first being roughly 1963-67, and the second being 1968-1974. In the early wave, the Beetles created a frenzy that was never seen before in America. “In early August 1 964, Battlement had become a full blown epidemic.
Teenage girls jammed the theaters, singing along with the songs, shrieking and crying as each of the lovable mop tops did his star turn” (Ward, 279).Teenage girls were acting way out of line according to previous etiquette established in earlier decades. This started a gradual trend Of major change from this point on. We could even say that the Beetles were the most influential entity on American behavior in the last forty years. In the second wave, a sort of “drug ultra” emerged; headed by such bands as The Jim Hendrix Experience, Pink Floyd and others. While the Beetles and the Stones (more so in the early years) had a clean-cut look, these bands were openly on acid, and it was well known that it was considered one of their main sources of creativity. Held at Alexandra Placidness the cavernous structure, there were bands (often two at once, playing from full volume from opposite ends of the hall), an unending display of film and lighthouse dawn, as the walls of Ally Apply began to turn pink, Pink Floyd finally came undergone had been waiting for them and everybody was on acid” (Ward, 355).
This quote shows the elaborate performances that these “acid bands” put on, and how the audience was so high that the spectacle before them just added to the experience.This particular concert was held in Europe, but the same concept was brought over to America with these bands. One theory that I have constructed for this sudden use of drugs is the Vietnam War. Just like when the country went into a funk when Kennedy was assassinated, the Vietnam War turned the country upside down. The country needed another pickup, but this time they needed to get away from it all; it was too much to deal with. The use of mind-altering drugs was just the thing to do it; they would put people in happier places and relax them to the point of not worrying about the problems around them.Even the Beetles took a radical turn towards the late ass’s, with music laced with drug inferences; shown in songs such as ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” and “Strawberry Fields Forever”.
“Newspaper taxis appear on the shore, waiting to take you away. Climb in the back with you head in the clouds, and you’re gone”. This quote is directly from “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”, and it is obviously drug oriented, talking about climbing in the clouds and leaving. The newspaper taxis can be seen as an illusion from the drugs, and the usage of the cloud can be considered getting “high ” and getting away from the present reality.Now when the Beetles, arguably the most influential band in rock and roll history, changed their style, others followed. As previously mentioned, The Jim Hendrix Experience, Pink Floyd, and other British bands followed suit with this movement, and thus a large- scale drug influx arrived in America. Another part of American culture that was drastically changed was the style of dress.
Bluebottles, bare midriffs and long wavy hair was not the way of the previous generation. This also relates to the etiquette previously discussed, for they go hand in hand.In both cases the dress and conduct etiquette was very modest and rule oriented. If people would have acted and dressed the way they did from the ass’s on in the ass’s, they would have been considered totally out of line and out of control. All of this came from the British influx, for with their new music they brought new style and clothing. From this time on Britain has been at the forefront for the new waves Of fashion and design. The revolution brought on all kind Of change and it didn’t follow any of the previous rules, it shattered them.
There was so much change going on in the ass’s, it was a time of great turbulence from start to finish. Protests, assassinations, war, pacifists; they all played a major role in the United States during this time. Something substantial had to happen to help relieve some of the on going woes. It was the British music. Not once, but twice, within a span of ten years were the British the influence that helped get us over those times. It may have been in a more positive way in the first wave, and maybe in a more negative way in the second, introducing an entire drug culture, but either way it made an impact.I have always viewed the ass’s as one of the most intriguing decades to live in, because of its culture shock that occurred during this time.
It was the decade of peace, love and drugs; it would have been great to be there to experience these things. Nevertheless, in the research I have done, I have realized the importance of not only the British music on this decade, but all of the feelings behind the music, all of the meanings and emotions and social change which it encouraged. It was the decade with the highest highs and the lowest lows in the last half-century. It was the time when British music saved America from itself.