In my opinion the 1960’s were a miracle decade. Although I wasn’t born until the late 1970’s, when I look, listen and read back to that decade it fills me with a sense I was born too late.
I would have preferred to have been a teenager in the 1960’s. The Era of Free Love, when kids were being told to “Turn On, Tune In and Drop Out” and when people needed to “Discover Themselves” led to a decade of free thinkers and revolutionaries.
The music that came from that period was ground-breaking. The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Motown dominated the chart. Blues and Soul in combination with pop and the beginnings of rock made a record collection a work of wonders.
Songs were of protest, meaning and optimism.
I decided to look back at literature from the period, and correlate that with current literature to see if any parallels can be found between music and books.
First of all music. I searched for the top 10 songs according to Rolling Stone, where the best songs for the 1960s and the 21st century.
Top 10 Songs 1960s
Top 10 Songs 21st Century
|1. Like A Rolling Stone – Bob Dylan
2. A Day In The Life – The Beatles
3. (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction – The Rolling Stones
4. Gimme Shelter – The Rolling Stones5. My Generation – The Who
6. Light My Fire – The Doors
7. Hey Jude – The Beatles
8. Whole Lotta Love – Led Zeppelin
9. All Along The Watchtower – The Jimi Hendrix Experience
10. God Only Knows – The Beach Boys
|1.Crazy – Gnarls Barkley
2. 99 Problems – Jay-Z
3. Crazy in Love – Beyoncé
4. Hay Ya – Outkast
5. Paper Planes – M.I.A.
6. Seven Nation Army – The White Stripes
7. Maps – Yeah Yeah Yeahs
8. Rehab – Amy Winehouse
9. Beautiful Day – U2
10. Stan – Eminem
I may be biased towards the 1960’s, but in my music collection you will find every one of the 1960s songs, but only two of the 21st century songs.
To look at books I went to Goodreads and looked for the top rated books published in the 1960s and then the top books published in the 21st Century. Here are the results:
Top Books 1960’s
Top Books 21st Century
|1. To Kill a Mockingbird
2. The Outsiders
3. One Flew Over the Cuckoo Next
4. Charlie and the Chocolate factory
5. A Wrinkle in Time
6. Where The Wild Things Are
7. Green Eggs and Ham
10. One Hundred Years of Solitude
|1. Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows
2. The Kite Runner
3. The Time Travellers Wife
4. Harry Potter and The Half Blood Prince
5. Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire
6. The Hunger Games
7. Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix
9. A Thousand Splendid Summers
10. Water for Elephants
The first thing that came to me, was that there appeared to have many more books with true proper meaning from the 1960’s than current day.
Looking further down the 1960s list you get more books with a meaning, such as A Clockwork Orange, 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Autobiography of Malcolm X, and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep.
If we compare to the top books of the 21st Century we find it heavily populated with Young Adult Fiction, Dan Brown, Stieg Larsson and others. While these books can have meaning, they would certainly not compare to Catch-22 or Slaughterhouse-Five.
So have we stopped protesting about the evils of life?
In a society which is politically correct to the ultimate degree, when blackboards are chalkboards, and a fireman is a fire-fighter are we scared that we may upset people?
Is life getting too easy?
My father regularly told me that he was beaten in school and it did him no harm. I was too young to be beaten in school, but not too young that if I misbehaved a neighbour or friends parents were not above a slap around the head. And if I told my father his reply would be “Well you must have deserved it!”
Is Society too soft?
Nursery Nurses are not allowed to cuddle a small child that has fallen over in case a compliant is made, and certainly not allowed to bounce a baby on their knee. Kids are not scared of the police, and are more likely to swear at them, knowing they cannot touch them, and parents do not seem to care (I know this is a sweeping generalization, however the type of kids that would do that, have parents like that. My kids would not behave that way because they know I WOULD care)
And what I would see as the Ultimate question.
Are we too selfish to care anymore?
Vietnam was the most heavily protested War in history; there were rallies, marches and lobbying every day to call an end to the war.
Most of the first world countries (UK, USA, France, Germany, Australia Etc.) are currently involved in a war in Afghanistan, but yet while people think that is a wrong thing, are they actively doing anything to stop it?
Ashamedly I include myself in that as I have done very little regarding the conflict.
So is this being reflected in our literature?
Are we too selfish to read books with true meaning? Do we want a book that tells us a story and that is enough? Are adults taking an easy route and reading children’s books? Are writers scared to write on a controversial topic? are we scared of upsetting people?