Something is happening but you don’t know what it is
Do you Mr. Jones? Bob Dylan’s ballad of a thin man, what is it about Mr. Jones that has attracted so much attention? John Lennon mentioned him in a song which appeared on The Beatles White album. David Bowie portrayed him on his Station To Station album (the thin white duke). There have been countless interviews, with and without, the unmistakeable Bob Dylan, who leaves it entirely to the listener to decide who and what the thin man is all about.
So much of the music being produced in the 1960’s was protesting (civil rights and Vietnam). And the best has, as is always the case, withstood the march of time in spite of the sentiments expressed being rooted firmly in the decade of change. The catalysts for this upheaval were the musicians. Why was that? Rock and Roll started in the 50’s and inspired so many across this small rock I suppose it was inevitable there would be people, like Mr. Dylan and the Beatles, who would take this beautiful art form to places and times to reflect the ongoing struggles across the planet. While Brian “Eppy” Epstein was alive he stopped the Beatles talking out against the atrocious behaviour of some white Americans. No doubt Paul would be able to shed more light on how the Fabs felt at the time. After all, the music leaving Britain and winging its way across the Atlantic owed more to Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters and black blues music than it did to white Rock ‘n’ Roll artists of the 50’s.
Chuck Berry, Muddy Waters, Bo Diddley, Robert Johnson and Fats Domino continued to influence more young white Brits than Elvis, Buddy Holly and Carl Perkins at that time. The artists and groups around Britain at that time were playing their own brand of music, rooted in the Blues but with a distinct Rock ‘n’ roll beat. We knew what was happening, thanks to our news bulletins. Vietnam was being taken to a new level of warfare, televised coverage of the conflict was new and Americans found out things as they were happening thanks to 24 hour television. The fate of blacks in America also found its way to these shores and, funnily enough those shouting out against segregation, both here and in the U.S., were the white musicians. I think that was what kept it in the spotlight and gave Black Americans the rights and Freedoms fought so hard for a century before.