Recently I attended Bonnie Raitt’s concert at the Ryman theater. It made me ponder the artists that have had the greatest influence on my life. I started playing the guitar and piano when I was 11 years old – 1961. Folk music spoke to my curious soul. Pete Seeger, Peter, Paul and Mary and, of course, Bob Dylan had a huge influence on what I played. A few years later a group of us would gather at a local coffee house organized for teens. We learned the new releases, shared poetry we had written and helped each other compose our own songs.
February 9, 1964, The Beatles appeared on Ed Sullivan. The world changed. Garage bands sprung up everywhere. Communities sponsored weekly dances in community centers and schools. I played organ in our band which was busy every weekend. We mostly played covers of the new releases of rock n’ roll. If required to choose who had the greatest influence, it would have to be The Beatles.
Like the original folk music of the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, music became the voice for change in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. The anti-Vietnam War movement, Earth Day, ethnic and gender equality. We believed we could impact the survival of the Earth, the equality of our culture, and peace on Earth. Music carried our messages. Then Woodstock happened in 1969…another culture defining happening. Many of the artists that performed over those four days remain my favorites today. I feel fortunate that I grew up with the evolution of folk music into rock n’ roll. Clearly it was the music of the 1960’s and 1970’s that remains the foundation of so much of our music today.