Remembering the Swinging, Sit-In Sixties

IN 1968, the Beatles recorded “Revolution”, an explicitly political song expressing disillusionment with how the decade’s protests had become violent. The revolutionary verve of the 1960s—its utopian impulses based on peace and love, on civil, gender and s.e.xual rights—had by 1968 spurred militant factions. The song had two versions. The first, recorded in May, was a blues-inspired shuffle. By July, the Beatles had recorded an electric version with guitar solos howling a deliberately distorted sound. Referring to both protestor and state brutality, John Lennon originally sang the ambiguous lines: “When you talk about destruction, don’t you know that you can count me out…in.” By the second, he sang the unequivocal “count me out.”

Revolutionary fervour had turned sour. Martin Luther King Jr. had been assassinated earlier in the year. A spate of protests in America and across Europe resulted in clashes with police. As Lennon sang in Abbey Road studios in May, nearly half a million French students marched through the streets of Paris demanding the fall of Charles de Gaulle’s government, calling for state reform and vehemently asserting s.e.xual…Continue reading

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