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Do you remember the Swinging '60s?


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About JK

A frustrated academic, I want to start a social movement that will bring people together to create a better world. The world is far from ideal and who is going to change it if we don’t?

Happiness is a birth right and at the very least, a worthy ambition for us all. We have a responsibility to work together to help all people experience happiness. Please join with me


If you are under the age of 60, you probably don't. But neither does anyone who was truly there.

I remember my 60s. After all, they only began a few months ago. And while it is a case of so far so good, my 60s have not yet shown any sign of being ‘swinging’.

The Beatles, icons of the 1960s.

The Beatles, icons of the 1960s.

But enough about me. I'm here to reminisce about the Swinging '60s, a decade in history that some  suggest saw more social change than any other last century. I am inclined to agree.

Read more from JK: Do you remember black and white?

If you are under the age of 60, you probably wouldn't remember much of that decade. But even those aged over 60 may not . Arlo Guthrie -- who, along with his father, Woody, was among the musical giants of the 60s -- reminded his audience at a recent concert of the old saying: "If you remember the '60s, you were not there.'' It was, after all, the era of psychedelic drugs.

It can be difficult, with a time long ago, to separate your memories of actual events from those of recent accounts of what went on way back when. It is even harder to separate direct memories from second-hand ones of when you were young, as I was at the time.  For this reason, some of the following may well be based on the memory of others.

More than anything, I remember the 1960s as a time when great men died and the enormous impact their deaths had on our society.

These men included Winston Churchill, John F Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. While I have little time for Winston Churchill, and recognise that most of his impact was felt many years earlier, these were all significant men who had a substantial impact on the world.

I remember very distinctly the impact these deaths had. They gave voice to so many social movements.

Like most people, I also remember the '60s for the musical talent of the era, including The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Elvis and Bob Dylan.

Again, there was a preponderance of men, which certainly changed in the '70s as I became more aware of the likes of Joni Mitchell, Janis Joplin and Stevie Nicks. Again, these artists, while not always to my taste, had an enormous impact on the world.

I also remember the music these stars produced, from the brilliance of Bob Dylan’s The Times They Are A Changing and Blowing In The Wind, to the commercial dross of the Beatles’ Hard Days Night and She Loves You, Yeah Yeah. Good or bad, much of this music was revolutionary. They changed music forever.

I most certainly remember a range of momentous events including Woodstock, man landing on the moon in 1969 (and yes, I am a believer), the Vietnam War, the Kent State University killings, the Cuban Missile Crisis (although, I am almost sure this is a second-hand memory, given my age at the time), Kennedy speaking in Berlin about The Wall and how it needed to come down, nuclear testing by various countries and a number of Cold War summits involving the USA and the USSR.

The Cold War changed the world forever, and the fallout from it continues to impact on international affairs. Kennedy, some would say, saved the planet from nuclear war by resolving the Cuban missile crisis.

I remember much less about events in Australia. I have a vague recollection of Vietnam war demonstrations, the Master's Apprentices, and Robert Menzies (an old, overweight man who was living in a bygone era). I remember the advent of television, or at least my first contact with it in 1958, and a range of US television programs. I can remember no locally produced programs other than ABC News and BP Pick A Box. I vividly remember Bob and Dolly Dyer hosting BP Pick A Box.

But Australia was almost a non-event for me in the 1960s. Nothing of note happened and even less occurred in Western Australia.

Australia was in its infancy in the 1960s. It was not until 1972 and the arrival of Gough Whitlam as Prime Minister that Australia began its adolescence -- and the process of catching up with the rest of the world.

That said, the foundations were laid for Prime Minister Whitlam during the late 1960s with the anti-Vietnam protests, targeting the Defence Minister Malcolm Fraser, and the blossoming of alternative views of the world elsewhere on the planet.

I do not remember the drug culture, as I was too young. Fortunately, I was able to catch up during the 1970s and '80s.

What do you remember about the 1960s?

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