An Iranian Experiment

By: Ed Howes

Most White early Baby Boomers in the United States, heard very little of the Blues on their radios before the Rock and Roll step child took hold. White authority, especially parents, saw the music as corrupting. They were correct. Cold war tensions were high and the nation was gripped by fear and civil defense, the fifties equivalent of Homeland Security. The new subversive music was a pressure relief valve for White youth.

The music did not incite rebellion in a direct way. It was the spirit of the music that moved young hearts. It had hope. It was OK to have a good time with the world going to hell. We needed to know that. As we gained mastery over the fear that gripped authority, we became less fearful of the Black culture that produced the music. Most White youth knew without question that something big was happening. There was a generation wide excitement that should have been shared with the Black youth of the same age group because their culture was gaining badly needed exposure. So began the United States' Civil Rights movement. It was a violent fight that would have been far worse, if not for the music coming first.

The very same thing happened a little differently in England. I never asked an English War Baby or Boomer if they shared the same exuberance in the mid fifties that we did. This may have been an international phenomenon as it likely occurred in Canada as well.

It could be argued that many elements had to come together at the time to create the Civil Rights movement and the disregard of presumed authority that followed, but I am not sure.

It was the music and the spirit it evoked in young hearts that was still there and strengthened in 1963 with the British Rock Invasion. For the next seven years, freedom was the real issue in the "land of the free". College professors began explaining to students what was happening to freedom in the U.S. and the methods elitists used to control and manipulate the people. Rebellion soon spread to challenge elitist agendas wherever they were exposed. There was just enough violence to keep the rebels focused on change.

The early years of Rock and Roll were mostly feel good music. It was rhythmic romance. It had to reach the late sixties to become protest music. Everything happens faster now - perhaps twice as fast. What took eight to twelve years to develop in America back then, could take four to six years in other places today.

Iran, with seventy per cent of its population, thirty years and younger, is ripe for such an event. Young people, not yet ready to oppose presumed authority, as the U.S. youth were not in the beginning, are defying the edicts of authority. This is a healthy, pre revolutionary development.

Iranian youth are exploring the Internet and forming rock bands in basements and listening to music from other cultures. This is very much like what happened in England.

If it is the spirit of the music that is the critical agent for change, Iranian youth should be introduced to early American Rock and Roll, to find and know that spirit. I would say the first five years, from 1956 through 1960. Then include Blues music from the course of its history, acoustic and electric, to make the connection of the musical expression of oppressed people and the obvious connection to Rock and Roll. Can it be the music of the oppressed that leads to liberation in ways a foreign army never does?

If Iranian youth are encouraged to listen to early U.S. Rock and Blues, their social and cultural revolution can be much less violent than without this old music. Feel good music somehow creates better judgement for exuberant youth. They begin to weigh the happiness they feel against the consequences of political action and civil disobedience. It tempers the need to act from hate, which blinds one to opportunities for progression.

What if it is the Iranian youth who produce the new Beatles that spread a happy revolution, not only throughout the Middle EastFeature Articles, but around the world? Could they not rekindle that spirit for those of us who now only know it as a distant memory? Wouldn't it be wonderful if the music of Iranian youth does for the world what U.S. foreign policy fails to do in Iraq? The spirit of modern Rock music is not the same. It does not generate hope in the oppressed. It is a mistake to think all Rock music is the same and will produce the same result. I have not listened to that old Rock and Roll much since the sixties. Maybe I should have. Maybe I will now.

Motivation
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