Music serves as a reflection of a society. When a society is prospering, the music is noticeably happier, such as the Big Band phenomenon in the roaring 20's. The same principle applies to a society going through rough times, such as jazz during the years of the Great Depression. The Cold War Years in America were filled with fear and tension. The two superpowers of the world, the United States and the U.S.S.R., were in a rivalry of epic proportions. This paper will explore how popular music during the Cold War mirrored the fears and anxieties of the American public by exploring and analyzing the songs of various influential artists, including Billy Joel, Prince, the Beatles, and Nena.
[...] This began to build the tensions that were the fuel for the Cold War fire. To further show the instability of the time, Joel continues his list of important figures and events. By this point in the song it is clear that the Cold War is on. Joel incorporates the Rosenbergs and the H-Bomb. Both of these events caused an increase in the tension of the two countries and that of the public. The Rosenbergs were American citizens who were tried as communist traitors, for giving United States secrets to the Soviet Union. [...]
[...] When the Cold War ended with the collapse of Soviet Union in 1991, the music of the time changed drastically. At this point, there was no more reason to write songs about the apocalypse and constant fear, since the biggest enemy had been “defeated” (Shnader). The mood of the country changed drastically and at the same time, new genres of music were debuting. These new bands of America did not have the same fears. Many were focusing on creating a new sound and affecting new social issues. [...]
[...] Another song written during the uncertain times of the Cold War was “Back In the by the Beatles. This song tried to at least alleviate some of the tension that was felt all across the world. It was a song that was meant to stir up some controversy and it clearly succeeded. It was a parody version of “Back in the by Chuck Berry. It turned the tables on what the world was expecting to hear out of a band from England, with a huge fan base in America (Gaddis, p 212). [...]
[...] Their minds say “prepare to fight,” but they want to enjoy themselves, leading to the “fuck the world, I'm going to have (Shnader) attitude. Of all the songs put out during the Cold War, one stands out more so than others. Red Balloons” by Nena was a song about a tragic scenario. In this scenario, two people go to a toy store and buy 99 red balloons. They walk outside and release the balloons. Somehow, the group of balloons set off alarms in faulty defense computers. This leads to “panic bells, red alert.” The reaction is immediate and drastic. [...]
[...] The song highlights the new fear, now due to terrorism and extremism, driving the American people to support redneck agenda.” The song seems to attempt to reach out to the “idiot nation” and try to get them to open their eyes and take a more active role in the policy making of this country. The music of the Cold War encompassed all the views of the people of America. Every viewpoint had a band pushing that perspective. These emotions felt during the time ranged from fear to anger to hope. The bands writing these songs helped unite people under common ideas and themes. It also helped people deal with their own feelings and perhaps even helped avoid Armageddon. Looking at the big picture, it is clear that political music is [...]
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