I was talking the other day about music that contributed to social change. Thanks to Marlo Thomas and other like-minded progressives who created that marvelous children’s record, we moved forward (resisting the best efforts of conservatives and reactionaries aka right-wing Republicans) marching toward personal, social, racial and sexual freedom. “Free to Be You and Me” not only embodied those changes but was their impetus. That recording sang out musical truths – loud and clear, ringing social truths for all to hear.
Blossoming during social revolution of the 60’s which left “Leave it to Beaver,” “Father Knows Best” and “I Remember Mama” in the dust, a new energy emerged. A brand new social fabric sprang from the words and sounds of a different kind of recording fostering a different kind of TV programming, affecting families, schools, churches and the financial marketplace. Every ‘following generation’ simply takes changes in technology and ideology for granted; doomed forever to the kind of time-blindness that strikes generations and nations alike. ‘You mean you didn’t have smart phones?’
Historians can write and film producers can portray, but no one can know what it was like to be in a world that’s different from the one they live in. The intrinsic value of first-hand experience simply cannot be underestimated. It is, in fact, one of the key influences affecting every society. Each subsequent generation absorbs the changes from the previous ones: ideas, values, prejudices, hatreds, fears, beliefs, traditions, but never fully understands them. Social change is like a constantly evolving organism that consumes and creates, incorporating, digesting and re-creating. Everything flows from experience generated by time.