How bright were the 1960s?

As a person who was born in 1989, any view I have of any era before that is dictated by pictures, films, stories and songs. In my mind, the sixties were a vibrant and colourful time — slides of flowers, bright dresses and sunshine fill my brain’s powerpoint presentation. However, I was listening to Paint It, Black by The Rolling Stones and I got a rather different impression. Nicholas Rombes in his Cultural Dictionary of Punk says that the song was ‘was released in May 1966, the same month that tens of thousands of anti-Vietnam War protestors picketed the White House.’ He goes on to quote a poem from that era, At a March against the Vietnam War by Robert Bly:

We have carried around this cup of darkness.

We hesitate to anoint ourselves.

Now we pour it over our heads.

He makes a case for saying that this ‘blackness’ that Mick Jagger sung about was in reference to the mood of the time — brutality, injustice and cruelty. The song went to number one, so it definitely resonated with many. Film director Stanley Kubrick was one who twenty years later closed his über-dark Vietnam War film “Full Metal Jacket” with the song. I appreciated Mick’s help in giving me an alternative P.O.V.


5 thoughts on “How bright were the 1960s?

  1. Nice post, thoughtful and well-written. Have you listened to Gimme Shelter by the Stones. I have that on one of my posts. Please visit my blog and I will visit yours again. Cindy Zelman

  2. Thanks for the shout-out about Cultural Dictionary of Punk, and the blog. Very good and fresh writing here. I was surprised, myself, at the many meanings that “Paint it Black” has taken over the years, and had forgotten that Kubrick used it at the end of FMJ.

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