Dr. Richard Cirulli delves further into his growing body of work societal evolution known as the “Boomerang Series” in his most recent article, “From Hillbillies to Hypocrites? By Dr. RICHARD CIRULLI, Ph.D.”, on Friday, July 21, 2017th at 10am DST on the Westchester On the Level radio broadcast. Listen “Live” or “On Demand”. Use the following hyperlink … http://tobtr.com/s/10116105 to listen to this segment from 10-11am.
The Boomerang Series
From Hillbillies to Hypocrites?
By the early 1950’s Americans purchased about 189 million records supported by a population of 150 million. By the close of the decade 600 million records were purchased supported by a growing population of 179 million. The expanding economy of the 1950’s transformed America’s taste in music, as teenagers used their abundance of disposable income to purchase the new and longer playing 45 rpm and 33 -1/3 records, that made the 78 rpm records obsolete. Not to mention the Hi-Fi and stereo records that greatly enhanced the quality of sound.
Unlike today’s popular music which is a combination of special effects, theatrics, fashion, and technology, music of the sixties was for the most part intended for the ear, not visual extravaganzas; promoting our minds to orchestrate visuals with our imagination. The Baby Boomers were reared with a diversity of music ranging from the likes of: Frank Sinatra and Patti Page; alongside mood music; big bands; jazz; country and western; folk music, and the advent of Rock ‘n” Roll. It was also the time when American popular music lost its innocence as the soft melodies of teenage love gave way to lyrics with a strong social message; with an even stronger backbeat. Ironically the expanding and now more affluent middle class, along with a more educated youth began to explore the world beyond their safe neighborhoods. These socially conscious young people found their inspiration and battle cry in the likes of hillbilly music, i.e. now referred to as folk music. Our nation’s rich heritage of folk music has its genesis in the hillbilly music of Jimmie Rogers, and the Carter Family. The Carter Family traveled America uncovering our nation’s root music. And, along with Lesley Riddle, who would take the Carter Family across the race line to sample the music of Black America. The music of the Carter Family was Woody Guthrie’s inspiration and his music school that he used to transform hillbilly music that addressed the plight of disenfranchised Americans into socially conscious folk music.
Woody Guthrie was a true American troubadour guided by his spiritual convictions, with an astute eye on America’s social shortcomings. It may be fair to believe that if there was no Woody Guthrie, there would be no Bob Dylan to pass the torch onto. Guthrie’s songs awoke our nation’s conscience to the plight inflicted upon fellow Americans who found themselves victims of our nation’s economic greed. His convictions ultimately got him blackballed, clinging to living on the fringe of society.
America’s rebellious Sixties youth-quake would amount to nothing more than a mere tremor if not for Guthrie’s songs of the soul, sung with earnest conviction. His simple songs brought attention to our nation’s complex social problems and issues as he attempted to assist a humanity in distress. His songs were the voice of our downtrodden and unknown faces who were pawns and victims in our nation’s boom and bust cycles, the dust bowl, failed worker’s rights, and a society that placed profits over people.
Now as us Baby Boomers age, and witness the passing of many of our rock musicians, we should ask ourselves in earnest, on the macro level, if we have transformed the world for the better? And, on a micro level, have we individually released some of our demons of human frailty?
In closing, the Baby Boomers are the richest generation in the history of our nation. With our hard earned success and wealth, many elect to spend their generous disposable dollars on vanity projects in an attempt to deny the aging process. Do we now look at ourselves in the mirror each morning and only see ourselves as a humanity in distress as we fight our war against gray hair, wrinkles, and gravity, or do we see a shallow reflection of who we really should be, and what we once stood for?
Dr. Richard Cirulli is a retired professor, business consultant, writer, columnist, and innocent bystander at large. He welcomes your comments at Profirulli@optonline.net