THIS IS A CONCEPT SITE—and anyone who was into rock in the ’60s or is a record collector now knows something about ‘concept albums’—whose purpose is to present articles, essays, and pictorials about “the Sixties,” accentuating the positive about the people, music, books, movies, art, and events that occurred then and which live on in fact or spirit decades later.
Of course, first I would have to define the Sixties: chronologically, they began on January 1, 1961, although conceptually, thematically, or culturally, the first few years of the decade were more an extension of The Fifties
Reasonable starting points for the era we now refer to as the Sixties—and it’s okay to capitalize those worlds as a reference—based on events have been offered by others, the two most common being the assassination of President Kennedy on November 22, 1963, and the first appearance of the Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show on February 6, 1964.
I’m writing this because, as I am working on several other pieces for this blog concurrently, I keep having to use various terms for the years or the era that is the focus of this blog. So I need to differentiate between ‘the ’60s’ and ‘the sixties’ in a manner that makes sense and allows for consistency in the essays and articles that will follow here on The Endless Sixties. 1
The National Guardian was an independent weekly newspaper established in 1948 in New York City in connection with the 1948 Presidential campaign of Henry A. Wallace of the Progressive Party. By 1970, it was a “independent radical newsweekly covering the Black Panthers.
The ’60s, the sixties, and The Sixties
So, here’s my breakdown of how I intend to use three primary terms for referring to the time as something merely chronological, and as something more or less cultural and political:
1. The term the 60s is chronological and refers to the years 1960 through 1969. 2
2. The term the Sixties is cultural/socio-political and refers to an era that began (more or less) with the appearance of the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show in February 1964, and (more or less) ended with the re-election of Nixon to the Presidency in 1972. 3
3. The term the sixties (occasionally “sixties-ish”) is also cultural and will be used as the adjectival form of the second term. 4
There might be other variations to break up redundant use: I may say “1960-1969,” or use “The Sixties” with a capital “T” in an attempt to make the positive aspects of the era to seem a wee bit bigger and more important than some believe it was, or I may say “sixties-like.” I am, as always, open to suggestions. 5
Keeping that personal note, I was born in 1951 and so spent the first half of the 1960s as a child. I graduated from high school in 1969 a virgin who’d never smoked pot, never dropped acid, never even been drunk!
By the end of 1971, I had turned on and tuned in, made love to the beautiful Christine G, and dropped out of college—along with dropping out of many of the goings-on and goals and general keeping-up-with-Jonseses of mainstream America.
So my Sixties didn’t really begin until the ’60s were over!
I wasn’t alone in this …
FEATURED IMAGE: The photo at the top of this page is from Stanley Kubrick’s 2001 – A Space Odyssey. In the final scene, the “star child” looks upon Earth in the cosmic void, “symbolic of the explosion of awareness needed to launch humans into space with a new philosophy for the 21st century.” (“Explosion of Awareness”) Released in 1968, it can be argued to be the defining film of the era we refer to as the Sixties.
1 I toyed with naming this site The Fabulous Furry Freaky Sixties or some such, but it seemed silly and derivative and possibly litigative, so I settled on The Endless Sixties.
2 Technically, a decade begins with a “1” and ends with a “0,” meaning the ’60s are 1961-1970.
3 The events that define the Sixties vary according to the observer: some historians select the assassination of JFK in 1963 or the LBJ’s Civil Rights Act of 1964 (or Op-Art, or the mini-skirt) for the beginning, and everything from the fiasco at the Rolling Stones “free concert” at Altamont in 1969 to the official break up of the Beatles in 1970 (or the emergency evacuation of American military and related people from Vietnam in 1975).
4 As for the word sixties—as many of us who were participants in the events of The Sixties are now in our sixties, I hope that should I refer to us sexagenarians as with this word my readers will understand
5 For new readers, get used to the footnotes: I use some because they are appropriate and some because they’re funny. But I also use some because they’re an affectation that separate my websites from millions (and millions and millions) of other blogs.