Sunday, 1 November 2009

why 1959?

It all started when I realised that 1959 was the year in which the music that I love was invented – modern jazz. Miles Davis' 'Kind of Blue', Ornette Coleman's 'The Shape of Jazz to Come' were both released in 1959 along with 2 other extraordinary and influential jazz albums by Mingus ('Ah Um') and Coltrane ('Giant Steps')

I started reading about those releases and a bit of a history of the era and started wondering what else happened in 1959, apart from my first birthday. Of course the list is endless but plenty happened that I found particularly interesting – Castro's Cuban revolution was recognised by the US, The Vietnam War started, the original Mini was brought to market, Buddy Holly and Billy Holiday died, the Barbie doll was launched .....

I am intrigued by the fifties – modern youth culture exploded very visibly in to the public eye in the sixties – my guess is that something much more subversive and brave had to be going on in the fifties to prepare the way for the freedom of expression that youth demanded as a right in the sixties. The war was close enough to the fifties for it to have continued to have a profound effect on the way people thought and behaved. Only by the end of the decade, when teenagers were not old enough to have been really affected by it, could youth throw off the shackles of post war austerity.

That's my theory anyway. I'll be writing up my thoughts on the events of the last year of that decade and I'll let you know if my theory holds up. Hope you enjoy it in the meantime.

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