The most important day in the history of modern American culture could be July 25, 1965, the day of the 1965 Newport Folk Festival. That day, Bob Dylan plugged in an electric guitar, betrayed folk music and hammered out “Like a Rolling Stone”, forever changing the fabric of American popular music.
Dylan ushered in an age where rock music wasn’t just a genre, it was the genre in the United States. During the ‘60s and the ‘70s, rock defined a generation and what it means to be American. Though many popular bands were British, they still exemplified the American spirit in a trying age due to conflicts such as the Vietnam War and the Watergate scandal.
Classic rock is music of the everyman and relatable to this day. One example is Jackson Browne’s 1978 song “Running on Empty”. The song is Browne reflecting on how he doesn’t know where he’s going in life, but he still keeps moving on. You feel yourself in Browne’s lyrics, moving through life, trying to find your identity.
The same goes for other songs such as 1969’s “Fortunate Son” by Creedence Clearwater Revival. “Fortunate Son” sees Creedence’s lead man, John Fogerty, belt out a harsh criticism of the government and the rich that allowed the country’s young men to travel to Vietnam to fight a war they didn’t support. This is an example of how Classic rock is an outlet for America’s youth to ask for consideration in government policy.
Classic rock goes deeper as well, which is the beauty of the music. Albums like Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon deserve all the hype they get. The Dark Side of the Moon leaves you with a message I’ll let you discover when listening to the album yourself.
The music itself is incredible, but the experience of listening to the album is tremendously profound. The Dark Side of the Moon should be considered one of the greatest works of art of the 20th Century and is a must-listen for anyone who has ever wondered about our world. That’s classic rock. An experience that can be shared from generation to generation with the common theme of great music.
Classic rock isn’t really a genre; it’s an art movement that should be considered right up there with some of the greatest in history. The differences between groups like Steely Dan and Aerosmith are massive from a stylistic perspective, but they still explore the same topics and relate the same way to humans as a whole. Music today is still great and should be praised, but the artistic explosion of music groups of the ‘60s and the ‘70s will be tough to ever replicate.
Next time you hear artists like The Beatles, Bob Dylan, the Eagles or Fleetwood Mac, take it as an opportunity to experience something great. Enjoy the music, and think about it. In today’s era of hostility, take classic rock as a chance to come together with others and experience the impact that can be made by simply plugging in an electric guitar.