Tangent Sunset

The History of Conscious Music by Alex Cosper

Painting Dark Pictures


During the entire Beatles-Beach Boys battle of the minds, an even bigger rivalry was going on between The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. The first Stones hit "I Wanna Be Your Man" was actually a Beatles cover. But songs like "Satisfaction" and "Get Off Of My Coud" showed that Mick Jagger had a loud voice in rock and roll as he echoed the themes of rebellious youth. The Stones evovled with The Beatles and by 1966 were wandering into unchartered territory with "Paint It, Black." Then the following year, as The Beatles experimented with Sgt. Pepper, The Stones put out their own surreal album Their Satanic Magesties Request. It featured one of the most spacey sci-fi songs of all time called "2,000 Light Years From Home." They followed the material on later albums with several mind-blowing tracks such as "Gimme Shelter," "Sympathy For The Devil" and "You Can't Always Get What You Want." Each of those songs combined haunting cultural imagery with descriptive storytelling.

The year 1967 marked the arrival of a new sound and a more literate and serious rock ethic. It also marked the rise of freeform radio on FM. The Monterey Pop Festival happened that year and marked the beginning of rock festivals. The Doors broke on through with their hit "Light My Fire," which had a seven minute album version that defined the early FM freeform radio sound and broke the unwritten but understood rule of AM pop radio's three minute time limit. Dylan had actually pre-dated the trend toward long songs with the five minute "Like A Rolling Stone" in 1965, but he was already an established artist at that point.

The Doors were new on the scene when they hit with "Light My Fire," a dreamy rocker with mixed images of love and death, which was actually nothing new to pop music. It's just that the Doors seemed a little more haunting and believable than previous melodramatic pop attempts. The Doors were literally offering a vision to break on through to the other side of consciousness deep into the cosmos. This song reflects where the sixties began to wander off on a quest for anything but the here and now. Clarity was beginning to be overshadowed by curiosity. The song "Ride My See Saw" by The Moody Blues talks about this shifting phase.


Continue to "Escape To Other Worlds"