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Senior Year

Senior Year, 1969: Giving Peace a Chance

by Stephanie Benson

Senior Year, 1969: Giving Peace a Chance

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All was not exactly fine for the class of 1969. Vietnam dragged on. Nixon took office. The Beatles gave their last live performance. Brian Jones drowned. The Manson Family struck. And Altamont soon cast a dark cloud over the last days of a decade that was swinging, progressive and chaotic all at once. But this was just two years after the Summer of Love, and revolutionaries, peace activists and just plain fed-up citizens weren't giving up yet. Hope was still very much alive. Men were walking on the moon. The Civil Rights movements of women, African Americans and the LGBT community were finally making headway. John Lennon and Yoko Ono staged their Bed-Ins for Peace. And then came Woodstock.

It can be argued that musicians truly ruled the year (and possibly the whole latter part of the decade), giving everyone from the idealistic hippies to the hopeless a reason to think, care and act. Pop culture was colliding with politics in a way it never had before -- and scaring the bejesus out of the establishment. The class of '69 may have been heading into a very scary and capricious "real world," but they had an incredible soundtrack to help keep their fight for peace and equality alive, including now-classics by everyone from Lennon and Ono to Crosby, Stills & Nash, Creedence Clearwater Revival to Jefferson Airplane, The Band to The Rolling Stones to Hendrix. How was there not peace with this kind of music around?