Text By Douglas Schwartz
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As I've oft said before in this journal (I like saying "oft" every so often), I was a child of the 1960s. For me, that decade was a great
time to grow up. I was a kid, after all, and didn't know very much about the ongoing problems that the adults were facing. Elementary
school aside, most of my days were filled with childhood games, riding my bike, and trying to get money to buy candy (collecting
two-cents per soda bottle which people had disclosed along the road near my home was a usual means).

Music was a big part of of the 60s and my life as well. Portable transistor AM radios and 45 RPM records were a nearly constant
reminder of the popular songs of that era. In addition, I was involved with taking drums lessons and spent many an hour playing along
with the hits and dreaming of becoming a rock and roll star. 

Along with singers and bands born in the United States such as The Beach Boys and Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons, the 1960s
was also a time when a British Invasion (of the good kind) was taking place in America. Music performed by artists such as Chad and
Jeremy, The Rolling Stones, Herman's Hermits and The Dave Clark Five filled the air.

Aside from radio and records, the relatively young medium of television also served to enlighten the public with both the sounds and
the sights of many musical performers. Perhaps no television program at the time accomplished this as well and as far-reaching as
The Ed Sullivan Show
. While Ed presented a variety of non-musical entertainment on his "Rilly Big Shoo", it is most likely the singers
and bands he showcased, sometimes for the first time in America, which made the greatest impact on his audience.
Even though I was little more than 5 and 1/2 years old at
the time (remember when you use to tell your age in half
years?), I can still recall my family and I gathering around
our black and white Magnavox television set in February
of 1964 to watch a group of four young men from Liverpool
perform for the first time on Ed's show. Their song list
included...All My Loving, I Saw Her Standing There and
I Want to Hold Your Hand
. The name of this group was,
of course, The Beatles.

The popularity of The Beatles (or, the "Fab Four" as they
became known) quickly grew throughout the United States
after that appearance. Their music could be heard
everywhere and was enjoyed by people of all walks of life
and ages. Adults, including my own parents, liked many
of their songs as well. To put it another way, much of the
music of The Beatles served to bridge the generation
gap, along with other divides, to be sure.

Because I was too young at the time, I never had the
opportunity to see The Beatles perform live in concert.
I did, however, get to see them in their second theatrical
feature film, Help! (1965), in a large movie theater in
Baltimore, Maryland. I clearly remember how crazy it was
to see (and hear!) hundreds of screaming teenage fans
express their exuberance upon seeing John, Paul, George
and Ringo perform their now-classic songs such as Ticket
to Ride
, I'm Happy Just to Dance With You, You're Gonna
Lose That Girl,
and the tile song, Help!. Like I said, this
was in a movie theater! Those teenagers were screaming
their lungs out at a screen!
While all of this was taking place, another musical phenomenon (this one homegrown) was emerging from a city in Michigan. Created
by Berry Gordy, a recording label located in "Motor City" Detroit by the name of Motown Records was busy launching the careers of
many great musical talents including The Supremes, Marvin Gaye, The Four Tops and Stevie Wonder.
One of the greatest acts to come from Motown was a group
of brothers, namely Marlon, Jermaine, Jackie, Tito and
Michael, who rose to fame as The Jackson 5. Michael, who
you are probably aware (who isn't!), went on to an extremely
successful solo career of his own. Like the music of The
Beatles, the songs of The Jackson 5 were enjoyed by people
of all races and ethnicity. It didn't matter what color the skin
on your foot was, it was likely tapping to their tunes just the

Though not new to American television audiences, The
Jackson 5 made their first appearance on The Ed Sullivan
Show in December of 1969 performing the songs, I Want
You Back
and Who's Loving You. At this point in time, my
family had evolved, technologically speaking, to a 25" color
television made by Admiral. This was very beneficial
considering the colorful attire of The Jackson 5.

I remember feeling a connection to Michael Jackson at the
time because he and I were both born in 1958. In other
words, we were kids of the 60s! It really didn't matter to me
that he was black and I was white. In my mind, the only real
difference between us was that he was famous...and I wasn't!

Later big hits by The Jackson 5 included I'll Be There and
ABC, the latter, of which, evokes another memory of mine.
I fondly recall listening to a cassette tape by The Jackson 5
which included ABC blasting out of the tiny speaker of my
portable Panasonic tape recorder. Ironically, that song
knocked The Beatles song, Let It Be, off the Billboard Hot
100 list in 1970!
I was now twelve years old (I had dropped the "half years" by then). I still enjoyed riding my bicycle and eating candy (I seriously
doubt that confectionery pastime will ever change for me!). Not only was I getting older and becoming more aware of the problems
in the world (how sad!), America was beginning to shed many of the old and incredibly stupid contrived differences which kept
people apart (how great!). This evolving change for the better, I believe, was greatly influenced by the power of music.

The 1971 Coca-Cola television commercial featuring the memorable song, "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing" (In Perfect
, is another example in this positive is the 1982 song, Ebony and Ivory, performed by Paul McCartney (who
also wrote the song) and Stevie Wonder.   

Flash forward to 2023. I'm not saying that the world has become a perfect and harmonious place where everyone gets along and
sings Kumbaya (another good song in its own right!). It seems as if there will always be those who want to divide us for their own
purposes. Still, the power of music has managed to bring people of different races, ideologies and nations closer together than
they once were.

If that is true, as I firmly believe it to be, composers and lyricists working today would do well to further advance, through their
music, what we all have in common, rather than what separates us. Perhaps this creative potential is the greatest power of music!
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