The Politics of Music in the 60s

The 1960s was a time of extreme political turmoil. Between the Civil Rights Movement, the Vietnam War and its violent protesters, and the rise of feminism, the United States was near exploding with politics and opposing societal opinions. It was a hotbed of controversy, and music undoubtedly helped to shape societal feelings and moral during this time of intense instability. Sound helped to develop the political state of the 1960s via the anti-war sentiments of musical groups such as The Beatles and Bob Dylan, and the sounds supporting the Civil Rights Movement from James Brown and other artists of the time. Though sound and politics may seem like they belong in two completely different realms of society, they coincide much more than many people realize. Many factors certainly helped shape the politics of the 1960s, but it is undeniable that music was prominently involved.

Edwin Starr’s song War and the accompanying video portraying the bare-bones reality of what the war in Vietnam truly was clearly shows a large portion of society’s attitude toward the war during the 1960s and at the beginning of the 1970s, which was when this video was compiled. Songs like this one, which were not uncommon at the time, were basically propaganda against the war. They served not only to spread negative feelings towards war, but also to boost the moral and show support for those who were already protesting it. Through sound, musicians were able to influence the political world.