The Spirit of '76: From Politics to Technology, the Year America Went Rock n' Roll by David Browne

The Spirit of '76: From Politics to Technology, the Year America Went Rock & Roll (Kindle Single) - David Browne

This is a Kindle single title I got from the PRIME lending library. It is incredibly short and shallow look at America in her bicentennial birthday. 

 

Politics: Ford's ineptitude from pardoning Nixon to his presidential campaign against that peanut farmer upstart from Georgia, Jimmy Carter is covered. This was the shallowest part of the analysis of how the campaigns used/ignored the feelings of the country's citizens that was apparent in the aspects of the culture that were later talked about in the article.

 

Music: Browne seems most knowledgeable here and therefore this is where the article shines. He notes how toothless the rock music started in the sixties became - prime example given is Peter Frampton's album Frampton Comes Alive - and disco was still in it's infancy, known mostly to underground dance clubs. This created a vacuum for a new genre of music to burst forth to give a cathartic release from the frustration of daily life and news in the mid-1970s - punk. The Ramones are featured pretty heavily, but punk in other art forms are also mentioned. 

 

TV: The big example of how "rock n' roll" American television was the premiere of Saturday Night Live in September 1975 and won an Emmy one year later. It was subversive to authority and featured musical breaks from emerging acts that were not (at the time) mainstream. This was contrasted with the other new show on television, the 1950s nostalgia trip of Happy Days

 

Movies: The big sleeper hit of 1976 was Rocky, a film that was made in a very punk DIY way. Much like the television section, Rocky was contrasted with more hyped up movies that did not either do well at the box office or didn't have lasting pop culture cache. 

 

Technology: Browne goes into the start of Apple and Microsoft, both involving college drop outs working out of their garages and starting the Information Age. Nothing new was discussed and seeing how Gates and Jobs turned out in the years since 1976 doesn't really make me think "rock n' roll". 

 

Overall, not much here but just a glimpse of one year of one of America's less glamourous decades.