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Left and back cover: Ron Campbell,

“Question Authority” became the mantra of young people who demanded freedom from cultural, societal, political and sexual mores. Music became the soundtrack for the times. of this trauma and duress” in a rock band from Liverpool. “The Beatles came on the scene that winter, ’64, and our generation flocked to that,” Posten says. “We reached out to London, to England, to all things British.” Following their Feb. 9, 1964 appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” Beatlemania swept America. Within two months, The Beatles had the top five singles on the U.S. charts — a feat unmatched before or since. The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, The Who and other British bands followed. But American groups weren’t about to surrender without a fight, as the Beach Boys and the Byrds from California, the Motown sounds of The Supremes, The Temptations, The Four Tops, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles and others from Detroit and East Coast bands such as The Four Seasons and Young Rascals all made their marks. And Bob Dylan, the brightest light of the Greenwich Village folk music movement, was getting ready to scandalize his followers by going electric. In the wake of 1963, the Civil Rights Act was passed and the nation’s involvement in the Vietnam War expanded, leading to a growing anti-war movement on college campuses. “Question Authority” became the mantra of young people who demanded freedom from cultural, societal, political and sexual mores. Music became the soundtrack for the times. And the assassinations continued. Malcolm X was gunned down in 1965. In 1968, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the nation’s foremost civil rights leader — was shot dead. Not long after, Robert F. Kennedy, seeking the Democratic presidential nomination as an anti-war candidate, lay in a pool of blood, mortally wounded. “After ’63, within five years you had the country in polarized fashion, torn apart,” Posten says. “And ultimately, at the end of the decade, you had a backlash, which Richard Nixon played into with the ‘silent majority.’ And there was a silent majority who just felt we’ve had enough of these kids. And it swung the other way from ’68 to ’72.” As a music historian, Aracena — who is too young to have experienced the ’60s herself — sees the music and the events of the time inextricably linked. “I think the music of the ’60s was a product of the times,” Aracena says. “That’s what makes it special. And that’s why it perhaps wouldn’t work the same way if a song from the ’60s were introduced today as a new song. I don’t think it would be received in the same way. I do

think the historical context, the moment and the timing of everything, is part of understanding the music. You can’t divorce one from the other.”

Thanks for the memories For the generation that came of age during those turbulent times, the music they listened to has the power to instantly transport them back. With an estimated 78 million baby boomers in the United States, that makes for a lot of memories. And for that, you can thank your medial prefrontal cortex. Petr Janata, associate professor of psychology at the University of California Davis Center for Mind and Brain, has done fascinating research mapping brain activity of people as they listen to songs that were popular when they were teenagers. The medial prefrontal cortex — the portion of the brain that’s directly behind the forehead in the middle — serves as a hub for “autobiographical memory” that links music, memories and emotions. So a familiar song can launch a vivid “mental movie” that brings you back to a particular time, place or person, Janata says. “The neat thing about music is that it unfolds in time,” he says. “The music is the soundtrack for the mental movie that unfolds. So the idea is if we can understand that soundtrack and understand how it’s helping coordinate activity in a whole bunch of different brain regions, the hope is then that we can really understand in great detail ultimately how these different parts of our brain work together to give rise to this rich remembering experience that makes it feel like you’re actually there.” It’s an experience almost all of us have had. Blessing will never forget where he was the first time he heard the Beach Boys song, “Do It Again” — a nostalgic nod to “suntanned bodies and waves of sunshine, the California girls and a beautiful coastline” — released in the summer of 1968. “I was driving in a hopped-up car of some kind along a beach the first time I heard it,” he says. “It was about 8 o’clock at night. I remember thinking that I could smell the sea. I remember the song because it fit in perfectly to that moment.” And whenever he hears the song now, he is immediately transported back to that car and that beach. Continued on page 55

Alvernia University Magazine


Alvernia Magazine Summer 2014  
Alvernia Magazine Summer 2014  

Alvernia Magazine Summer 2014