I Am Enjoying 1971: The Year That Music Changed Everything

1971 was a wild time, and it feels familiar

This eight-part series snuck up on me. I figured I could just play it in the background and learn more about some 70s music. But a staggering number of famous songs all come from that one year. It’s nuts, and makes for compelling watching.

Then there’s the footage from the time. Whether showing protests, crumbling inner cities, or backstage parties, it’s all fascinating to watch. The video equipment of the time was able to capture at a pretty high quality, and there was a strong strain of photojournalism of the time, so there’s a gold mine of interesting content.

Finally, the series does a fantastic job of cultural context. I wasn’t alive in 1971, but it’s well documented how turbulent the time period was. But somehow, even after knowing all about Martin Luther King, Kennedy, Vietnam, Malcolm X, Stonewall, Nixon, Watergate, Women’s Lib, Attica, and scores of other cultural cross-currents of the time, I still didn’t really get it. There was a lot more going on there than we give credit to.

2021 feels really scary. There are a lot of huge problems we’re facing as a species, and sometimes it feels like things are spinning out of control. Well, after watching this series, it’s clear that 1971 was plainly worse. By any objective measure, it was more chaotic, more racist, more sexist, and more violent. So the people cried out for change, and they actually did it. They actually forced the change they were demanding.

Activists of 2021, we should take note of what was happening in 1971. We can learn a lot about a broken society found its way back from the brink. We can watch history from a distance, knowing the fires of the time can’t burn us anymore. But we can also note the similarities and the winning strategies, and use them to our advantage. We can do more of the things that worked, and avoid the things that didn’t. Because we’ve been here before.

Do you care about the environment, racism, sexism, capitalism, or justice? Thank a boomer. Their generation forced these issues and their current progressive framing to the forefront. Study up and let’s push their work further forward.

Designer, writer, teacher. I love building things.