Flower Power and Rock ‘n’ Roll – The era of the hippies

Woodstock 1969

Term Paper, 2007

15 Pages, Grade: 1,3



1. Introduction

2. The 1960’s in America
2.1. The Vietnam War
2.2. The Anti – Racism movements

3. What does it mean to be a hippie?
3.1. Lifestyle and ideals
3.2. Hippies and their music

4. Woodstock 1969 - The festival
4.1. Performing artists and events
4.2. At the height of music and the end of an era

5. Conclusion

6. Appendix

1. Introduction

The following term paper is dealing with the era of the hippies, their ideals, their music and the question what makes a person a hippie. Therefore, the social and political background is described to show how the movement could develop. Moreover, the highlight of the era – the Woodstock Festival – is illustrated as a representative for all the other festival during these years. Furthermore, I am trying to find access to the subject if the hippies were just another kind of youth culture that died with their icons or if it was more. Is it possible that the core of the hippie philosophy, based on its social background and peculiarities, is still alive somehow?

2. The 1960’s in America

2.1. The Vietnam War

People today are still living off the table scraps of the sixties.
They are still being passed around - the music and the ideas.
(Bob Dylan, 1992)

The 1960’s in America were not only a decade. During 10 years, you can find many events that not only influenced American history, but also changed the world. From Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream”- speech, President Kennedy’s assassination, psychedelic music to the Vietnam War, those years were overwhelming in more than one sense.

However, one happening is in contrast to the others: the Vietnam War. Until now, it is the longest military conflict in U.S. history.

The Vietnam War is a “trauma” for the Americans. To be exactly: this war is the definition of armed fights during the so-called second Indochina War from 1959 to 1975. America’s position as the acclaimed hero of the Second World War seemed to change.

The roots took shape in the year 1946 when Vietnam was under Communist rule and fought against the French colonial power. Since 1954, after the first Indochina War in which Vietnam tried to get their independence from France, the country had been divided up into two parts. The North came under control of the Communists who aimed for a unified Vietnam under their rule. Those who worked together with the French controlled the South. In 1965, the American intervention started when they sent in troops to protect the Vietnamese government from breaking down completely. In fact, America never reached its aim: the stabilization of the south.[1]

Finally, the war concluded on 30 April 1975, with the fall of Saigon and the reuinon of the country. Often, he is also seen as a Cold War conflict between the U.S., its allies, and South Vietnam on one side, and the Soviet Union, its allies, the Republic of China, and North Vietnam on the other.

As a conclusion it is necessary to say, that the U.S. government with President Kennedy as the head of the state feared the spread of communism. To prevent this they supported the new democratic government of South Vietnam. In the meantime this would be the greatest challenge for American democratic idealism since the Civil War. The war claimed 60,000 U.S. combat dead and the lives of between 2 and 5.1 million Vietnamese. The U.S. government left the American in the dark about the real happenings in Vietnam. As a result many protest movements developed.[2]

What started at first as a student movement against war had its roots already in the early 1950’s. On the westcoast, namely in San Francisco, a kind of subculture arose. Artists and songwriters became the leaders of a generation who didn’t agree with the injustices in this country such as racism, poverty, the lack of women's rights, and of course the Vietnam War. Singers like Joan Baez and Bob Dylan brought folk music with protest themes into the sixties. Bob Dylan put the feelings of a whole generation in his songs, by singing:

“Let me ask you one question
Is your money that good
Will it buy you forgiveness
Do you think that it could
I think you will find
When your death takes its toll
All the money you made
Will never buy back your soul”

(Masters of war by Bob Dylan, 1963)

His songs were almost the bravest and brutally honest ways of accusations against the Vietnam War and as he escalated under President Johnson, more and more young people had to go to Vietnam. Students died in confrontations with the National Guards. Peace became a common goal and the state of a hippie swelled. The centre of those demonstrations at the west coast was Berkeley, a small university city. This town was famous for the so-called “Free-Speeches” of radical writers and students against the “American way of life” and its mistaken policy.[3]

2.2. Anti- Racism Movement

On the brink of the war, another aspect of the young Woodstock generation started to develop. There was not only a movement against the war but also a civil rights movement. The equality of black people became an important issue. Again, the music is mainly responsible for the spread of thoughts.

First of all there were again white singers and songwriters like Bob Dylan, Joan Baez and Woody Guthrie who supported the fight against racial segregation with their songs.

Since there was theoretically no segregation in 1963 anymore, the American society was in revolt. President Kennedy authorized the integration of black people. In 1967 Reverend Martin Luther King lead the “March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom” followed by 250 000 people who fought for the civil rights of the blacks.

After the assassination of Kennedy in 1963 and Martin Luther King in 1968, the civil rights movement lost two important leading figures. In many parts of the USA violent protests started.[4]

3. What does it mean to be a hippie?

3.1. Lifestyle and ideals of a hippie

Now we know important things about the background, the political situation and the society in those days. Still, what we do not know is, when someone is called a Hippie. What makes people say that a person is a Hippie? Is it the way he dresses? Is it what kind of music someone likes? May be which religion he believes in? The following reflections are there for answering these questions.


[1] http://www.vietnamwar.com

[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vietnam_War

[3] Landy, Elliott: Woodstock Vision. Rowohlt Verlag, Hamburg 1984, p.12

[4] Feddersen, Jan: Woodstock – Ein Festival überlebt sein Jünger. Ullstein Buchverlage, Berlin 1999, p.42

Excerpt out of 15 pages


Flower Power and Rock ‘n’ Roll – The era of the hippies
Woodstock 1969
Technical University of Braunschweig
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ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
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526 KB
flower, power, rock, roll, woodstock
Quote paper
Elli H. (Author), 2007, Flower Power and Rock ‘n’ Roll – The era of the hippies, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/175344


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