The Return of the 1960s Revolution

You say you want a revolution, well, you know -
we all want to change the world.
You tell me that it’s evolution, well, you know -
we all want to change the world.
But when you talk about destruction,
don’t you know that you can count me out?
And don’t you know it’s going to be
all right, all right, all right.

You say you got a real solution, well, you know,
we would all love to see the plan.
You ask me for a contribution, well, you know,
we all do with what we can.
But if you want money for people
with minds that hate, all I can tell you is,
“Brother, you will have to wait.”
Don’t you know it’s going to be
all right, all right, all right.

You say you’ll change the Constitution,
well, you know,
we all want to change your head.
You tell me it’s the institution, well, you know,
you better free your mind instead.
But if you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao,
you ain’t gonna make it with anyone anyhow.
Don’t you know it’s going to be
all right, all right, all right …

“Revolution” by The Beatles
(EMI Records, Ltd.)

The wild and radical 1960s are making a comeback, according to several recent reports on American pop culture. Apparently the youth of the ’80s are developing an acute fascination with the music, the clothes, and the values of an earlier era.

“This is the season of ‘born-again’ hits,” according to one music reviewer for The Los Angeles Times. After the sensational 1987 success of Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me,” a 1950s oldie, and Tiffany’s version of “I Think We’re Alone Now,” a 1967 hit by Tommy James and the Blondells, record company executives are recognizing a new interest in nostalgic tunes. Two weeks after the Tiffany single went to the Number One spot on Billboard’s sales charts, Billy Idol took the top spot with “Money Money,” another remake of a Tommy James 1960s hit. 1

And the streak of remade oldies has shown no signs of waning. The Bangles’ “Hazy Shade of Winter” and Elton John’s “Candle in the Wind” have also enjoyed maximum airplay on Top 40 stations around the nation. This increased interest in tunes of the ’60s has created a unique market: some radio stations today are devoting their entire programming schedules to oldies, such as KOFY in San Francisco – “The Nifty Ten Fifty” that plays nostalgic tunes 24 hours a day.

The attraction of the 1960s is not isolated to music, either. Fashion commentators are now recognizing that the 18-to-21-year-old customer is spending more time in vintage clothing stores.“It’s amazing how many people make their wardrobes out of old clothes,” said one store manager at a vintage clothing outfit on the West Coast.“There’s been a terrific nostalgic interest in the last five years and it’s just getting big in fashion right now,” she added. 2

Among teen-agers and college freshmen, there has also been somewhat of a revolt against the materialism of the early 1980s. In a recent installment of “Bloom County,” cartoonist Berke Breathed announced that Yuppies are dead, wealth is out, and greed and hedonism are passé. This seems to be the mood among more and more young Americans. But if the values of the ’80s are now out, what is in? And why are we becoming so fascinated with the 1960s?

The upcoming generation – those young people who are now in high school and grade school – are the products of the “modern family.” Dad is an aspiring corporate executive traveling from meeting to meeting; Mom, meanwhile, is heavily involved in her own career as well, leaving little time for the children. Both Mom and Dad must work, of course, to maintain their materialistic lifestyle. Meanwhile, Junior is assured that he is fortunate to have parents who live together … even though he spends most of his time at a day-care center, in front of the VCR, or at the shopping mall with his skateboard.

The Lesson of Yesterday

The generation of the 1950s was just as materialistic as the one we live in today. Children were often isolated, alienated, and“turned off” to the next generation … very similar to what Yuppie parents are doing in the ’80s. The next generation – those children who became teen-agers in the 1960s – rejected their parents’ materialistic philosophy. Young people began to search for real values … and this led them to many places: the rock music subculture, Hare Krishna, or experimentation with drugs. They were led by the “prophets” of their day, The Beatles, who appropriately described the era as a time of revolution. The heartcry of young people during the 1960s was simple: “We all want to change the world!”

Great masses of young people went off to serve mankind in the Peace Corps at the bidding of President Kennedy. Today, according to Newsweek (February 8, 1988), a similar trend is developing. A “new volunteerism” has become fashionable among collegiates. “BMWs and the Almighty Buck are out,” stated the report. “The new Yuppie rallying cry is volunteerism …” Nearly 50 percent of the respondents to a recent Gallup Poll said they are involved in charity or volunteer work, up from 31 percent in 1984. According to Business Week’s 1988 “Hip Parade” survey, volunteering and social commitment have replaced networking and materialism on the “What’s In” list. 3

There is another interesting parallel between the 1960s and the present era … one that is not likely to be the subject of a secular news documentary. The young people’s revolt against the materialism of the 1950s had some positive results, one of them being what we now call The Jesus Movement. Characterized by thousands of long-haired, jean-clad teens who were converted to Christ on the beaches of Southern California, the Jesus Movement was an important social phenomenon of the 1960s.

The Jesus Movement gave birth to countless Christian leaders and ministries which are now leading the Church and pioneering Christian work around the world. It also brought thousands of young people into the churches of America, bringing new life and youthful zeal for the cause of Christ. It fired the Church for action and challenged dead religious traditions.

In my assessment of current trends in America, I believe that we are on the verge of another Jesus Movement on an even larger scale than the one that was spawned in the late ’60s. Disillusioned young people today are not finding fulfillment in anything that the ’80s have to offer. The Yuppie culture and the Sexual Revolution have both lost their appeal in the wake of the Stock Market Crash and the AIDS epidemic. New Age occultism is offering little spiritual reality. The young people of America are ripe for another wide-scale return to Christianity.

We are at this moment poised in a window of history, facing a generation of young people who are ready to be influenced and led by someone who has a message worth following. Who will lead the young people of the 1990s? Will it be another group of prophets like The Beatles, or will it be Christians who are awakened and ready to serve in this hour of great opportunity?

1 “Old Hits Live Again on New Vinyl,” Daily Review, January 13, 1988, page 37.
2 “Vintage Clothing Revival,” Daily Review, January 13, 1988, page 27.
3 “The New Volunteerism,” Newsweek, February 8, 1988, page 42.

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