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Sixties: Popular Culture

The critical and popular acclaim for AMC's Emmy Award-winning drama Mad Men has piqued the interest of the viewing public in the culture and society of the 1960s. Set primarily at a major advertising agency on New York City's Madison Avenue, the show depicts the changing social mores of 1960s America while telling the story of Don Draper, the agency's creative director, and the people in his orbit.

As summarized in his book The 1960s by Edward J. Rielly:

The 1960s were a time of great change in American culture. For the first time, the country would have a president born in the 20th century, and that choice was aided by a new force in politics — television. The new president pushed for a program to get the country physically fit, while the First Lady set the style in women's fashions. At home, women were trying out new recipes that Julia Child demonstrated on public television, and giving some thought to a new type of kitchen appliance called a microwave. Shopping was more convenient with the spread of shopping malls, and a McDonald's wasn't far away if you wanted a quick burger. The arts moved farther away from established traditions, building on changes that started in the previous decade, such as the birth of rock and roll. New directions in literature were ushered in by the Beats, and as the 50s turned into the 60s, Andy Warhol and other artists began to depict to objects and people from popular culture in their work. Images of soup cans and Coca-Cola became art. Much of the nation's confidence evident at the beginning of the decade was shattered by an assassin's bullet on November 22, 1963. Other assassinations would follow, as would the intensification of the Vietnam War - generating powerful antiwar sentiment among both young and old. A rock group called the Beatles landed in America in 1964, starting a revolution that swept through music and fashion. The counterculture steadily increased in influence and visibility with long hair, beads and psychedelic clothing becoming more prevalent. Young people experimented with communal living, free love, and alternate types of spirituality. Television began broadcasting in color, and movies staked out new territory in racism, sexuality and violence. In all of these ways and more, the 1960s changed the popular culture of the United States dramatically and permanently.

Books: Reference

Books: Popular Culture

Beneath the Diamond Sky: Haight-Ashbury, 1965-1970 by Barney Hoskyns (1997): The story of the psychedelic culture that galvanized the San Francisco area during that time in the 60s when "The Haight" became the mecca of the counterculture.

The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe (1968): A vivid portrayal of Wolfe's wild cross-country ride with Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters, showing the hippie subculture in all of its different aspects.

Hippie by Barry Miles (2004): A look at the 1960's counterculture filled with the history, politics and slogans of the time. Included psychedelic images, poster and album art, and rare portraits of writers and musicians.

The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby by Tom Wolfe (1965): A unique collection of essays about 1960's lifestyles. The title piece refers to the flamboyant "kustomized kars" that California teens constructed with artistic dedication.

From Lenin to Lennon: A Memoir of Russia in the Sixties by David Gurevich (1991): A Russian émigré shares his memories of everyday life in the Soviet Union during the Sixties.

The 1960s by Edward J.Rielly (2003): Part of the American Popular Culture Through History series, this volume explores the cultural and political undercurrents of the 1960s, including the youth culture, music, fashion, food, etc.

Websites: Popular Culture

American Cultural History 1960-1969: A web guide to the Sixties, including art, architecture, film, television, books, music, fads and fashion.

I Love the 60s: A chronological guide to the Sixties from the British point of view.

The Psychedelic '60s: Articles on such topics as the Beats, hippies, radicals, protest, rock music, the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights movement. Includes illustrations of posters and rock handbills from the period.

Sixties City: Comprehensive links to the music, television, films, fads and fashions of the Sixties.

Books: Art

The Pop Art Movement took off in the United States in the early 1960s, exploring the image world of popular culture from which it derives its name. These artists took their inspiration from advertising, pulp magazines, billboards, movies, television and consumer products. Robert Indiana, Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol and Jim Dine are just some of the notable figures in this genre.

Andy Warhol Prints: A Catalogue Raisonne, 1962-1987 by Frayda Feldman and Jorg Schellman (2003): Traces Warhol's complete graphic oeuvre, from his first unique works on paper in 1962 through his final published portfolio in 1987. Includes illustrations of more than 1,700 works.

Andy Warhol, 365 Takes: The Andy Warhol Museum Collection by the staff of the Andy Warhol Museum (2004): Fascinating collection of paintings, ephemera and personal memorabilia from the collection of the Pittsburgh museum.

Image Duplicator: Roy Lichtenstein and the Emergence of Pop Art by Michael Lobel (2002): Roy Lichtenstein's distinctive paintings of the early 1960s are almost synonymous with Pop Art. This volume makes available for the first time an array of archival material and provides new insight into the Pop Art Movement.

60s Decorative Art: A Source Book edited by Charlotte and Peter Fiell (2000): A comprehensive survey of the decade, covering the best in architecture, interior design, furniture, textiles, wallpaper, glassware, lighting, etc. Illustrated with hundreds of photographs.

DVDs: Art

Andy Warhol (2004, DVD): The definitive biography of the artist accompanied by spectacular images of his greatest works.

Websites: Art

Roy Lichtenstein Foundation: A chronology of Lichtenstein's works, including a biography and links to reproductions.

Pop Art at the Guggenheim: Links to Pop Art reproductions in the Guggenheim Museum.

The Warhol: Official website of the Andy Warhol Museum.

Book: Journalism

The Best of Rolling Stone: 25 Years of Journalism on the Edge by the editors of Rolling Stone (1993): This 25th anniversary collection features some of the most influential articles from the magazine that redefined journalism beginning with its first issue in 1967. Included are works by Tom Wolfe, Hunter S. Thompson, Chet Flippo, Ken Kesey and many others.

Books: Fashion

Twiggy. Mary Quant. Vidal Sassoon. Andre Courreges. The miniskirt. Bell bottoms. Love beads. The "Nehru" jacket. Patterned stockings. Go-Go boots. Paisley. Long hair. Straight hair. Afros. These are just some of the names and trends associated with 1960s fashion.

Fashions of a Decade: The 1960s by Yvonne Connikie (1990): A pictorial survey from Facts on File chronicling the international fashions of the 1960s.

Key Moments in Fashion: From Haute Couture to Streetwear; Key Collections, Major and Crucial Moments That Changed the Course of Fashion History From 1890 to the 1990s editedby Mike Evans (1998): This history of major figures and key events that changed fashion history contains two informative chapters on the 60s - "Mary Quant and the Miniskirt" and "Beautiful People - the Hippies."

Websites: Fashion

Fads, Fashions and Slang: The Sixties: A wealth of information on women's and teens' fashion of the Sixties, including many full-color photographs.

The 1960's Mini: A look at women's fashion, including the mini skirt, footwear and stockings.

20th Century Fashion History: 1960s: A survey of the decade's fashions, including the "Mod " look, mini skirts, loud printed fabrics, bell bottoms and long hair.

Books: Literature

Both the fiction and nonfiction of the 1960s reflected what was happening in the political and social arenas of America.

Notable Fiction of the 1960s

Notable Nonfiction of the 1960s

Website: Literature

1960s Bestsellers: A decade-by-decade list of the top ten bestselling fiction and nonfiction books.

Books: Film

Motion pictures experienced dramatic changes during the 1960s. The demise of censorship (i.e. The Production Code) allowed directors to make films that dealt with controversial political and social topics.

The Dream Life: Movies, Media and the Mythology of the Sixties by J. Hoberman (2003): A witty and penetrating look at the celluloid culture of the 1960s by the celebrated film critic of the Village Voice.

Movies of the Sixties edited by Ann Lloyd (1983): A wealth of information on the changes in movie content and production.

Websites: Film

Film History of the 1960s: Brief history of the film industry of the Sixties, including a decade-by-decade listing of the "Greatest Films."

DVDs: Film

Notable Films of the 1960s

Books: Music

At the beginning of the Sixties the music of such performers as Frankie Avalon, Paul Anka, Connie Francis and Mitch Miller ruled the airwaves, as well as the record charts. But the Sixties witnessed a rebirth of folk music, and soul music also gained a wide following, especially the "Motown sound." Rock, however was the most powerful musical presence of the decade and would come to be seen as a genuine cultural and political force.

According to the Rolling Stones by Mick Jagger and others, edited by Dora Loewenstein and Philip Dodd (2003): The inside story: the history of the Rolling Stones - according to the Rolling Stones. Includes a comprehensive discography and chronology.

American Troubadours: Ground-Breaking Singer-Songwriters of the 60s by Mark Brend (2001): The author focuses on nine key figures who moved through the world of Greenwich Village coffeehouses in the 1960s - Tom Rush, Tim Rose, David Ackles, David Blue, Tim Buckley, Fred Neil, Tim Hardin, Phil Ochs and Tom Rapp - revealing their vital impact on the singer-songwriter movement.

The Beatles Anthology by The Beatles (2000): Created in cooperation with Yoko Ono and the surviving members of the group (Paul, George and Ringo), this unique anthology features more than 1,300 full-color and black & white images - including personal memorabilia, documents and photographs - that chronicle the band's origins, rise to fame, and breakup.

The British Invasion: From the First Wave to the New Wave by Nicholas Schaffner (1982): Traces the history of the major artists of the Sixties (the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Kinks, Who, David Bowie and others) through over 100 separate prose pieces and several hundred rare and historical photographs.

The British Invasion: How the Beatles and Other UK Bands Conquered America by Bill Harry (2004): An examination of the history of British rock music in the American rock scene, covering pre-Beatles music, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and the Who, among other groundbreaking musical groups. Includes interviews, previously unseen photographs, and reproduced newspaper pages.

Echoes of the Sixties by Marti Smiley Childs and Jeff March (1999): Intimate profiles of some of the most popular musical composers and performers of the 1960s. Included are Peter and Gordon, the Moody Blues, the Lovin' Spoonful and the Angels.

Higher Ground: Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Curtis Mayfield, and the Rise and Fall of American Soul by Craig Hansen Werner (2004): A journey through the lives of three leading musical artists and the way they used their gospel music backgrounds to transform American popular music in the Sixties and Seventies.

A Long Strange Trip: The Inside Story of the Grateful Dead by Dennis McNally (2002): The Grateful Dead forever changed popular music by ushering in the psychedelic sound of the 1960s. A fascinating chronicle for students of rock and the Sixties' counterculture.

Positively 4th Street: The Lives and Times of Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Mimi Baez Farina, and Richard Farina by David Hajdu (2001): Recounts the emergence of folk music in the Sixties, from cult practice to popular and enduring art form, in the story of this colorful foursome.

Riders on the Storm: My Life With Jim Morrison and the Doors by John Densmore (1990): Founding Doors member and drummer Densmore sympathetically chronicles the self-destructive Morrison's rise and fall.

Rolling Stone: The Decades of Rock & Roll by the editors of Rolling Stone (2001): A decade-by-decade celebration of rock and its premiere artists.

The Rolling Stone Interviews: Talking With the Legends of Rock & Roll, 1967-1980 by the editors of Rolling Stone (1981): A collection of interviews profiling the legends of rock, including Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger, John Lennon, Jerry Garcia, Jimmy Page, and many others who came to prominence in the Sixties.

The Story Behind the Song: 150 Songs That Chronicle the 20th Century by Richard D. Barnet, Bruce Nemerov and Mayo R. Taylor (2004): A decade-by-decade guide to historically significant songs of the 20th century, explaining the story behind each song's creation and how it reflected the political, economic and social events of the time. Songs from the Sixties include "We Shall Overcome," "For What It's Worth," "Feel Like I'm Fixin' to Die Rag" and "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds."

Turn on Your Mind: Four Decades of Great Psychedelic Rock by Jim DeRogatis (2003): Charts the genre's journey from the Sixties to the present.

DVDs: Music

  • Casey Kasem's Rock & Roll Goldmine (2004): Rare and exciting performances from some of the Sixties greatest musicians
  • The British Invasion
  • The Sixties
  • The Soul Years
  • The Complete Monterey Pop Festival (2002): This comprehensive three-disc set covers the featured performers at the legendary 1967 concert, as well as outtakes of the music that didn't make it into the final edit of Monterey Pop
  • A Hard Day's Night (1964): An exhilarating, frequently hilarious study of a "typical" 36 hours in the lives of the Beatles. Not only one of the best rock 'n' roll movies ever made, but also among the finest films of 1964
  • Monterey Pop (1968): The first concert film of the rock & roll era, this is an invaluable record of some of the major musical figures of the 1960s. Held June 16-18, 1967, performers at the Monterey International Pop Festival included such legendary musicians as the Byrds, the Grateful Dead, Buffalo Springfield, the Who, the Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix
  • Woodstock: 3 Days of Peace & Music (1994): An "up close and personal" record of the landmark 1969 concert

Compact Discs

The 1960s saw the emergence of dozens of influential artists and groups:

Some retrospective collections:

Websites: Music

All Music Guide: A comprehensive guide to all genres of popular music, including biographies, discographies and informative articles.

Beyond the Beat Generation: A 24-hour broadcast via "Stream Radio" of the diverse genres of Sixties music. Covering the years 1965-69, their archives include the Psychedelic sound, Sixties punk, garage music, Underground, Flower Power, etc.

British Invasion Bands and Artists: Links to the bands of the decade's "British Invasion," including the Kinks, Gerry & The Pacemakers, Herman's Hermits, Manfred Mann, the Dave Clark Five, the Animals and the Hollies.

JW's Rock Garden: Links to artists of the "San Francisco sound," as well as to articles on the Psychedilic sound, the "Summer of Love," the Monterey Pop Festival and performers such as Neil Young, Janis Joplin, Santana and the Grateful Dead.

Little Steven's Underground Garage: Sixties Pop: Brief articles on some of the most popular bands of the 60s from Little Steven's Underground Garage. Includes punk, garage, psychedelic, surf music, rockabilly and the "British Invasion."

1960s Folk-Rock Links: Links to both major and minor folk-rockers of the 60s from the website of Richie Unterberger, author of several books on music history. A comprehensive site devoted to those lesser known "one-hit wonder" bands of the Sixties such as Shadows of Knight, the Leaves, Count Five, Electric Prunes, Alarm Clocks and many more.

60s Rockers: Links to some of the decade's legendary artists including Buffalo Springfield, Jan & Dean, Roy Orbison, the Byrds, the Lovin' Spoonful, the Beach Boys and the Yardbirds.

60s Soul Music: Links to 60s soul music artists including Diana Ross, Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye, the Chiffons, the Marvelettes and the Four Tops.

Book: Photography

Linda McCartney's Sixties: Portrait of an Era by Linda McCartney (1992): A personal album of intimate photographs capturing the lives and times of the rock legends of the 1960s, including Mick Jagger, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, and many others.

Books: Television

Television shows during much of the 1960s reflected good, old fashioned ideas of family values. Controversy was not up for discussion and programs were essentially clean and safe to watch for all. By the mid-60s, however, some alternative family, as well as variety shows, appeared on the air to appeal to those who were not impressed with the pat, simple formula programs. The popularity of the James Bond films also gave rise to several espionage-themed shows, such as The Man From U.N.C.L.E., The Wild, Wild West and I Spy. However, for the most part, the TV shows of the decade basically fell into one of these categories: Family Sitcoms, Children's Educational, Cartoons, Musical, Southern Sitcom, Westerns, Police, and Live Comedy.

DVDs: Television

Websites: Television

The Classic TV Database: Cast info and broadcast history for 15 Sixties classics.

The Episode Guides Page: Episode lists for over 2000 TV shows, with titles, broadcast dates, guest stars and plot summaries.

Television of the 1960s - Nostalgic Family Values: A discussion of the family values of much of 60s television. Includes a bibliography.

TV Land Online: Official website for the cable network devoted to classic TV. Includes actor bios, character profiles, sounds, pictures, episode guides, and more for such classic 60s shows as Leave It to Beaver, I Dream of Jeannie, The Dick Van Dyke Show, Bewitched and The Andy Griffith Show. Information on the premise, cast, broadcast history, episodes - as well as current news - of TV programs past and present.

Books: Biography

Other important figures in Sixties popular culture: