Music Monday: 1971: The Year That Music Changed Everything

My son and I just finished watching the first episode of a relatively new series on Apple TV: 1971: The Year That Music Changed Everything.

Here’s a brief description of the eight-part series:

An immersive, deep-dive rich with archival footage and interviews, “1971: The Year That Music Changed Everything,” will show how the musical icons of the time were influenced by the changing tides of history; and, in turn, how they used their music to inspire hope, change and the culture around them. The docuseries will examine the most iconic artists and songs that we still listen to 50 years later, including The Rolling Stones, Aretha Franklin, Bob Marley, Marvin Gaye, The Who, Joni Mitchell, Lou Reed, and more.

The first episode is titled What’s Happening, and here is the tagline:

As the unrest of the ’60s evolves into a new decade, musicians like Marvin Gaye and John Lennon become the conscience of the culture.

The first episode took a look at the Vietnam War protests taking place in America, the shooting at Kent State, and the Bangladesh War of Independence, among other notable events.

Prominent artists featured were Crosby, Still, Nash, and Young, John Lennon, George Harrison, and Marvin Gaye.

It was both a world and music history lesson for me.

I was not aware that a town 15 minutes from us (Media, PA) was the site of an infamous break-in to FBI offices which contained sensitive documents which were then leaked to the press.

As for the music in episode one, here are some things I learned:

  • I did not realize what a big deal George Harrison’s Concert for Bangladesh was
  • I never realized that John Lennon had recorded multiple protest songs
  • I never thought of Marvin Gaye as a protest singer.

When I think of Marvin Gaye, I think of I Heard It Through the Grapevine. I am familiar with the song What’s Going On, but I did not know that the album it was on, also titled What’s Going On, is considered one of the greatest albums of all-time, and was in fact ranked number one on Rolling Stones list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time in 2020.

The narrative established by the songs on the album is told from the point of view of a Vietnam veteran returning to his home country to witness hatred, suffering, and injustice. Gaye’s introspective lyrics explore themes of drug abuse, poverty, and the Vietnam War. He has also been credited with promoting awareness of environmental issues before the public outcry over them had become prominent.

Based on how much I learned from just the first episode, I am looking forward to the next seven episodes. Once again, my apologies for touting something that is on Apple TV, which I realize is not the most popular streaming app available…

It’s hard to pick just one song to share from the first episode. My favorite was Imagine by John Lennon but I’ve already featured that a couple of times on my blog. But I think I’ll go with What’s Going On, and this beautiful video that was created to go with it. It’s amazing to think this song could have been written in 2021…


Wikipedia: What’s Going On

Wikipedia: The Concert for Bangladesh

61 thoughts on “Music Monday: 1971: The Year That Music Changed Everything

  1. That’s one of my favorite Marvin Gaye tunes. I didn’t know they’d made a music video of it. There was a lot of idealism going on back in the 60’s and early 70’s, but I can’t tell if it’s made any big difference. Young people eventually settled down and got busy making money. I suspect that’s what will happen this go-around, also.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Well, maybe the pushback helped for awhile, but now we’ve just finished an era of a 20-year war, with apparently similar results to Vietnam. And now, whether structural racism exists or not, there sure have been a lot of protests against it, as in the 60s. And now, according to environmentalists, the world is on the brink of human extinction, due to global warming. As I recall, the 60’s saw a big environmental movement also. So was anything really accomplished by all the protesting back in the 60s? I feel skeptical.

        Liked by 5 people

      2. Happy memories of student days. I think I’d feel less sceptical if real science was applied to some of these issues with evidence presented, debated and peer reviewed with counter evidence weighed instead of the evil no-platform fascism.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. Same here. I’d like to see free and open debate. I want to be the one who decides what is misinformation and what isn’t, rather than some censor in social media, or in the White House making that decision for me.

        Liked by 2 people

      4. So? Such criticism would all be part of the debate. Maybe one of these days, if free speech makes a comeback, we can use “fake news” as a retort to things we disagree with.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. It seems like a slippery slope when people use the phrase fake news because it is something they don’t agree with, when in fact they have no evidence to support such a claim…

        Liked by 1 person

      6. I’ve found that rubber-soled shoes help with slippery slopes. What are slippery slopes made of, anyway? Are they embankments covered with iceplant?

        So, the right says, “fake news,” and the left says, “disinformation.” It’s all the same. Who cares? Are we Americans a bunch of pansies, that we can’t handle such terms? Let people use whatever terms they want, and slide down all the slopes they choose to slide down, while engaging in debate. That’s a lot better than allowing government to regulate debate. Keep Comrade Sam out of it. Let us lie to each other over and over, while debating to our hearts content. Sooner or later, such debate will flesh out the truth. But if it doesn’t, so what? At least we will have had some fun debating and feeling free enough to say whatever the hell we want.

        Liked by 1 person

      7. I had to look up what iceplant is…

        I’m all for debate and free speech. I was not a fan of the censoring by Facebook and Twitter.

        but sometimes, the truth is spoken, and people will simply discredit it because they don’t want to believe it. If the weatherman says it’s 93 degrees out, that seems pretty straightforward. But when enough people start claiming you can’t trust the news, people will start questioning such truth.


      8. I agree; but some people who disagree with the results, and have no evidence for doing so, might just start using the phrase fake news, and get other people on the bandwagon…

        Liked by 1 person

      9. Yes, but science has ALWAYS developed by counter evidence being shared to. For example Newton’s theory that light existed as particles was believed religiously until zHuygens, I think, disputed it as being waves. Huygens kept testing Newton’s theory to show he was wrong. Both sets of evidence were in the public domain. Nowadays some evidences is no platformed or buried.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I hadn’t heard of this song before either, but it is really good! You are right it could have been written today..
    Sounds like a great series. One that Brad would definitely be into! I think you just need to have all the bloggers over to your place to watch it. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Music is such a subjective thing. It’s one of the reasons I’m not too fond of these lists that come out, such as Rolling Stones List of Greatest Albums. I like this song a lot, and Marvin Gaye had some other good songs, but #1? You could have given me 500 guesses, and I would not have come up with this. I wouldn’t know where to start if I were to choose my #1. That’s like saying, which student was my all-time favorite? Impossible.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think it was the album that was number one, not only becuase of the great songs that were on it, but because of the whole concept of the album, with each song flowing from the previous one. But you are right, such lists are quite subjective, but that’s what makes them fun to then talk about…

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I certainly remember 1971, still a student, the year Dr C and I got married whilst still at university! Music was a big part of our lives, radio was “bigger” for it than TV, city bars played good selections, and our wine club spawned a beer club where each week someone had to bring along an album (vinyl of course) of a “new discovery” to introduce us to. Across this period I remember albums popping up from Bryan Ferry, Leo Sayer, and the Doobie Brothers. The rest is a bit hazy!

    Liked by 3 people

      1. There was a gang of 5 of us doing PhDs in Chemistry (one was to become my wife) plus wives. We started our own wine club, putting a small amount of money in a tin. On the last Saturday of each month we’d go through a couple of wine merchants lists and decide what to spend 4/5 of the money on. Sometimes it would be 20 bottles of Spanish rotgut, sometimes a single bottle of something classy. Over three years we “toured” the world and tried different grapes from differing regions. The monthly session was held at someone’s apartment and they had to provide food for all 9 of us! One day some bright spark said “let’s have a beer do in between wine sessions”! So, the format was, each couple had to bring x amount of any beer, plus one prepared dish of food for sharing. And …… a vinyl of a newly discovered band/vinyl. Happy days …. this tale is in my book It’s Not About The Wine that I published on Amazon last year!

        Liked by 2 people

      2. thanks for filling in the details of your wine club; sounds like you had some great times.

        besides your wife, have you stayed in touch with any of the old wine club gang?

        Liked by 1 person

  5. This sounds like an amazing series. It was an expanding universe in the music scene during the ’70s. I will agree that this album would definitely be in my top five. Marvin was “the man”. Hope you will highlight the other pearls you find as you watch the shows. Great post!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. thanks for that info, Jeff, I’ll have to give Bruce’s blog a look. I just read that the series is based on the book Never a Dull Moment: 1971 the Year That Rock Exploded by David Hepworth. So much great music from the 70s…


    1. it does seem like many of the issues that people were protesting about in the 70s are still with us. I am glad there are musicians out there who use their art to make people aware of these issues, and hoefully to change things for the better…

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks for the heads up. I hadn’t noticed this series appearing but am going to give it a try. The Marvin Gaye video is incredible, and the song is, sadly, still so relevant.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Sounds like a great combo…Listen and learn…I don’t have Apple Tv but have just found it for download on Utorrent 8 episodes available for download …I’ll watch episode 1 and if I love it and find it interesting which I am hoping I will from what you have said then I feel a binge-watching session coming on..Episode one has just finished downloading…Thank you, Jim 🙂 x

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I just finished reading Rock Me on the Water: 1974 The Year Los Angeles Transformed Music, Movies, Television and Politics by Ronald Brownstein. Brought back similar good memories and put them in the context of the larger picture of the times. Here’s a review that might entice you into digging into it. I found it very evocative and thought provoking and comparable, unfortunately, to some of the changes we may be in the midst of now. I guess it did give me some hope that, as with most crazy times in America, we may manage to come through this one, too.

    Rock Me on the Water traces the confluence of movies, music, television, and politics in Los Angeles month by month through that transformative, magical year. Ronald Brownstein reveals how 1974 represented a confrontation between a massive younger generation intent on change, and a political order rooted in the status quo. Today, we are again witnessing a generational cultural divide. Brownstein shows how the voices resistant to change may win the political battle for a time, but they cannot hold back the future.

    Liked by 2 people

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