I’ve often thought Jon Savage is one of the finest journalists/writers to come out of England. His depth and knowledge and lyrical flow is second to none. Never mind the music he’s covered over the years (as far as I’m concerned, no one comes close to writing about the punk era with the seriousness, analytical approach and comprehension that Mr. Savage does) – once he delivered England’s Dreaming, I saw it as a book that should be used a text in academic courses concerning popular culture. And he’s done it again on an even broader and deeper level.
1966: The Year The Decade Exploded is an in-depth, month-by-month assessment of (what I agree to be) the most important year in the most turbulent decade of the last century. I’ve often said about 1966 (when I was a year old) is that it was the year that the picture went from black and white to technicolor; when “rock & roll” became “rock”. Where life seemed to explode in colors and sounds that no one had previously seen or heard – on record that year alone: Revolver, Happy Jack, Over Under Sideways Down, For Certain Because, Face To Face, Aftermath, Pet Sounds and an endless array of amazing singles that permeated the airwaves on both side of the Atlantic: “Paperback Writer”, “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore”, “Psychotic Reaction”, “Winchester Cathedral” and so on. It was a watershed year for music in ways no one imagined – or has been able to equal, frankly, ever since.
It was also a year of major social shifts, with civil rights in full flight in the United States; the escalation of the Vietnam conflict started to become nightly news everywhere; in England, the national soccer team won the World Cup in the U.K. and in the U.S., people were burning records by The Beatles due to a sorely-taken-out-of-context remark made by John Lennon. Grass being smoked was now becoming a norm as L.S.D. started to make its way into bloodstreams; clothes were more colorful, men’s hair was longer while women’s was shorter – 1966 was a kaleidoscope of headiness, wonder, creeping discontent, curiosity and fearlessness. Jon Savage, who had become a teenager in 1966, is able to capture the feel and the mood in this 600-plus page volume. Really, the quality and information contained in the pages is prime fodder for this to be a text book for college courses – between this book and England’s Dreaming, you’ve covered and bridged an incredible spectrum of culture.
1966: The Year The Decade Exploded is an education. Whether you’re a fan of music, pop culture, social issues – this book must be delved into and devoured because it offers so much. And then work your way through the rest of Mr. Savage’s oeuvre. None of his work should be missed (not even album liner notes!) – for he is one of the few in our lifetime who has the width of scope to fill in all the necessary details in the telling of facts. His writing is vivid, sharp, clear and you get the story in full and from all sides. This book is simply not to be missed.
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED – ESSENTIAL READING
1966: The Year The Decade Exploded is available now