Academic journal article ARSC Journal

On Highway 61: Music, Race and the Evolution of Cultural Freedom

Academic journal article ARSC Journal

On Highway 61: Music, Race and the Evolution of Cultural Freedom

Article excerpt

On Highway 61: Music, Race and the Evolution of Cultural Freedom. By Dennis McNally. Berkeley, CA. Counterpoint Press: 2014. Index: Notes: 16pages of black and white photographs. 2014 ISBN 978-1-61902-449-6 (hardback) www.counterpointpress. com 471pp. $26

"What had caused the cultural shifts of the '60s?" That question was the one that author Dennis McNally asked as he began writing this book. His conclusion was that culture "carried forward the message of freedom," and that message was carried by the "relationship between white, often young Americans and African American culture, primarily music" (p.3). As one who lived through the '60s I am not at all persuaded that music actually caused cultural change. I see the music discussed in the book as reflecting cultural change, but I believe that the cultural change itself was caused by a variety of domestic and international events, not by the music. I don't agree with McNally's premise, and I was not persuaded to change my mind by this book. The musical connections promised to be at the heart of this book were rarely dwelled upon in depth. The connecting link of Highway 61 was an organizational device that didn't add to McNally's argument.

Dr. McNally is an academic and an intellectual, and is widely acknowledged for his outstanding biography of the Grateful Dead, A Long Strange Trip: The Inside History of the Grateful Dead. McNally's prose often obscured his points. "Twain's sermon Huckleberry Finn followed in the tracks of and extended the scripture that was Walden by considering the question of freedom in a vehicle that was the pastoral. …

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