"You say you want a revolution . . . we all want to change the world."
The Beatles, 1968
Take a look at the charts from 1965 and you’ll find that revolution in song. The hits never stopped coming. Authoring a book about this time frame would be an ambitious undertaking for anyone – so much to write about. Throw in the sweeping social changes – which is an absolute must if you’re going to pen anything about the 1960s – and you might have a tome on your hands.
Remarkably, Andrew Grant Jackson (how positively presidential) manages to avoid being tedious in his account of this seminal year in music history. Before the reader starts to feel bombarded by facts, Jackson weaves in anecdotes to keep the plot, as it were, moving along. Organized in chronological order by season, 1965 is a behind-the-scenes look at every genre – from rock to soul to country to folk and even reggae – interspersed with history lessons about the other revolutions of 1965 - civil rights, the Pill, the Vietnam War, and of course, the hippie movement.
If you’re looking for a detailed accounting of all the music from this year, you’ve found it in 1965. While it doesn’t qualify as a tome, it certainly feels encyclopedic. At times, it’s just too much. Because so much happened in that year, musically and otherwise, there is an overabundance of information. That criticism might be a function of my age. Having lived in the ‘60s, the book has a certain been-there, done-that feel. But the author was not a child of the ‘60s and most likely wrote the book to appeal to those who came long after the times started a changin’.
Having said that, Jackson certainly does a fantastic job of inclusiveness. You’ve got stories about the Beatles, Dylan, the Stones, the Kinks, the Who, the Byrds, the Beach Boys, Martha and the Vandellas, the Temptations, Marvin Gaye, James Brown, the Supremes, Johnny Cash, Buck Owens, Glenn Campbell, Bob Marley, the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, the Mamas and the Papas, even a reference to ? and the Mysterians, who some say are the grandfathers of punk. And that’s just the musical references.
If you’re looking to learn about the 1960s, or you just want to refresh your hazy memory from when you lived it – after all, this WAS 50 years ago – pick up a copy of 1965. It may take you awhile to get through it, but just remember: there likely won’t be another year in history, at least musically, like 1965. And that alone makes this worth reading.