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 Stone‘s 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…