Saturday, December 12, 2009

A Night At the Pop: The 60's

A look at the calendar would show you that the 1960's began at 12:00:01 on January 1, 1960. True. But, I believe that in looking back at that decade, we can say that what we know as The Sixties, began on a cold January in 1961. On the morning of January 20, 1961, John F. Kennedy concluded his inaugural address with these words:

"And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you -- ask what you can do for your country. My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man."

With those words, he ushered in a season of change and founded a new spirit of America. It wasn't always easy. Years later a fictional President would say, "America isn't easy. America is advanced citizenship. You gotta want it bad, 'cause it's gonna put up a fight." The decisions made in the 1960's were not always the right decisions. But as the country stepped into the next decade, it did so having recreated a spirit of volunteerism, of inventiveness, of boldness, and of change.

It was also a decade ripe with creativity.

In the cinema, the Academy Award for Best Motion Picture was given to The Apartment (1960), West Side Story (1961), Lawrence of Arabia (1962), Tom Jones (1963), My Fair Lady (1964), The Sound of Music (1965), A Man for All Seasons (1966), In the Heat of the Night (1967), Oliver! (1968) and Midnight Cowboy (1969).

Celebrated music came in many forms from many artists and composers. During 1960's, the Grammy Award for Best Song was awarded to The Battle of New Orleans - Johnny Horton (1960), Theme from Exodus - Various Artists (1961), Moon River - Andy Williams (1962), What Kind of Fool Am I - Sammy Davis, Jr. (1963), Days of Wine and Roses - Andy Williams (1964), Hello Dolly! - Louis Armstrong (1965), The Shadow of Your Smile - Tony Bennett (1966), Michelle - The Beatles (1967), Up, Up and Away -The 5th Dimension (1968) and Little Green Apples - O. C. Smith (1969).

As an aside, many of you know that I am fan of The Beatles. In that respect, you could say that I am stuck in the 60's. The Beatles were also nominated for Best Song for A Hard Days Night in 1965, Yesterday in 1966 and Hey Jude in 1969. Beatlemania was at its zenith on August 15, 1965 when the lads from Liverpool performed in front of 55,600 fans at Shea Stadium. This single show attendance record stood until May 5, 1973 when Led Zeppelin broke the record at Tampa (Florida) Stadium.

The country mourned its fallen President following the assassination of John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963. Tragedy again shook the country with the assassinations of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. on April 4, 1968 and Senator Robert F. Kennedy on June 6, 1968. But even in the midst of the turmoil that would define the latter part of the decade, we could celebrate man's ingenuity as on July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong stepped from the leg of the lunar module with the words, "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for all mankind."
Disney also gave us opportunity to laugh and sing with the release of One Hundred and One Dalmatians on January 25, 1961, The Sword in the Stone on Christmas Day 1963, The Jungle Book on October 18, 1967. Another ground-breaking film flew into theaters on August 27, 1964 with the release of Mary Poppins. Sadly, we also had cause to mourn, as on December 15, 1966, Walt Disney died. We are thankful that he left behind an enduring and ever-growing legacy.

On January 15, 1967, a new sports phenomenon debuted with the Green Bay Packers defeating the Kansas City Chiefs 35-10 in Super Bowl I.

Next week, we'll look into a decade that (for me) can best be remembered for having ushered in a 1950's revival. It was just that exciting.

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