Perhaps this is as good a day as any to reflect on the 1960s.
After all, Jan. 30, 1969 – 50 years ago today – has particular significance. As you may have already noticed in today’s Historical Quote above, this is the date on which The Beatles performed in public for the last time. It was a surprise (and now iconic) mini-concert on a London rooftop.
Of course, we’re telling no secrets in saying The Beatles helped shape the ’60s and its cultural influence for many decades afterwards.
We are wondering whether there are still any meaningful impacts from the ’60s being felt in today’s world – a half-century later. Basically, did the ’60s permanently change anything?
We’ll go out on a limb and say maybe, a little bit.
Of course, the ’60s are known as a time of a music explosion – The Beatles, Motown, Bob Dylan and many others, some even still performing. (The Who will perform in Edmonton later this year, as a matter of fact.)
Of course, over the last couple of decades, the musical styles of the ’60s have been supplanted in popular culture by hip-hop/rap, which many people apparently seem to enjoy.
We will not say anything against hip-hop/rap, because we are guided by a line from a Bob Dylan song from the 1960s: “And don’t criticize what you can’t understand.”
That line has served us well over the years. We honestly have no idea if there is anything as profound in rap lyrics, nor is it likely we will ever find out. That would require having to listen to it.
The ’60s were also known for their changing styles, often based on hippie culture. However, any influence of ’60s style has been overwhelmed by today’s pervasive fakeness. For instance, in the ’60s it would have been unthinkable and preposterous to buy pants with holes already in them to make them look worn, or for men to get expensive dos to make their hair look untamed. Actually, such styles are still preposterous.
The drug culture of the ’60s appears to have had some lasting impact, as witnessed by the recent legalization of cannabis in Canada. It took decades, but better late than never.
As for the peace movement of the 1960s, it may have helped end the Vietnam War in the early 1970s, but it has had no real lasting impact.
And aside from music, culture and politics, the 1960s was a time when things changed quite profoundly in unexpected and permanent ways. You don’t have to look any further than Hay River for proof of that. It was in 1963 that a flood – The Flood – submerged Old Town. That led to the creation of modern-day Hay River.
So the ’60s had some lasting impact, but also promised change that turned out to be fleeting.
As we are now 50 years past Jan. 30, 1969, there’s no doubt that any persisting influence of the ’60s will continue to fade away with the passage of time.
Some may not care about that, but we think it’s too bad, even if it is completely inevitable.