About the Songwriter

 

 

Verse 4:

The Players' Field

We now move into the most explosive period of the radical sixties, between the years 1966 and 1969. Where only a few years before the social and political system had been solid (if a bit petrified) and largely unchallenged, by this time it had begun to come considerably undone; an unpopular, ill-defined war in Southeast Asia only served to fan the flames. Increasingly, the established American culture itself was being viewed as an enemy in need of transformation, and this generation responded by growing more and more revolutionary. And once again the music was mirroring these changes, as the Beatles—influenced by the emerging Counterculture and their own forays into eastern mysticism and drugs—began to significantly alter the shape of rock 'n' roll, much as Dylan had before them; they were, in fact, replacing Dylan as the voice of their generation.

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As the sixties revolution gathered momentum, the youth movement itself also gathered more players, as the more organized and pragmatic unity of the Civil Rights Movement and the New Left (largely represented by the Students for a Democratic Society [SDS], and more or less symbolized by Bob Dylan in verse 3) began fragmenting into the Women's Rights, Black Power, Antiwar and Counterculture movements; the Progressive Labor and Revolutionary Youth Movements; as well as their militant sub-factions: the Black Panthers, The Weathermen, Up Against the Wall, Motherfuckers (yes, that was their name)—all seeking, to one degree or another, to influence the course of American culture. But of all of these it is the Counterculture that looms largest in our memory. Though they did not achieve much politically, their style of dress and behavior were enormously influential, as were the drug, sexual and spiritual freedoms they espoused—all of which were in-your-face affronts to the more staid, traditional values of the status quo. And it was their philosophies of peace and brotherly love—vague and ill-formed as they were—that seemed to best characterize this generation at this time, at least in the eyes of the general public.

In light of the growing conflicts of this period a football field is an appropriate setting, a battlefield on which the radical youth culture players and the forces of the establishment clash. But once again we find the songwriter mixing his metaphors, using the “marching band” to symbolize both the Counterculture (the Beatles) and the armed civil militia.

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