I graduated from high school in 1975. That put me “coming of age” in the early 70’s, at the height of the hippy revolution and rock and roll. Studies show that the music we listened to during these hormonal filled formative years get imprinted in our brain, and influences out music tastes for the rest of our lives.
So, you can guess I’m a big fan of good old fashion Rock and Roll. My favorite bands back in the day were Queen, The Doobie Brothers, Elton John, Deep Purple, and Steve Miller. I even got to see the Eagles in their heyday playing live at the Oakland Coliseum (1). But, this fondness for rock was not without resistance from my church leaders, particularly Bishop William A. (from whom I take my moniker, Bishop Bill). Bishop A. would tell us that Rock and Roll music was of the devil, and it was not so much the music itself, but the life styles of the musicians that we were condoning if not outright supporting by purchasing their music.
It was during this time that we were shown a filmstrip in priesthood meeting about preparing for our missions. (2) The filmstrip showed a young man filling out paperwork, getting interviews, getting his hair cut, and leaving for his mission. There were no words for the filmstrip, just music. And the music that played for the whole filmstrip was an instrumental version of the Beatles’s “Here Comes the Sun”.
I think this was the first time in my life that I experienced cognitive dissonance with regard to the church. I was old enough to recognize that the church needed to pay royalties to use that song, and that those royalties were going to the Beatles. I can still remember to this day the feeling I had, wondering how the church could pay the Beatles, thus supporting their lifestyle, while I was counseled by Bishop A. to not listen to or support such artists. It all felt very hypocritical to me.
I knew Bishop A. did not recognize the music as being from the Beatles. And Bishop A. was not some rouge bishop, but was merely saying what many others of his generation though about the music of that time.
So, is this just a cultural thing that the current generation dislikes the music of the younger generation? Or was there more to the anti-rock movement that swept the Mormon church (and others) in the 1970’s?
(1) Bill Graham’s “A Day On The Green”, Aug 3, 1976. Lineup included the Eagles, Linda Ronstadt, Loggins and Messina, and Argent.
(2) For you kids out there, a filmstrip was a bunch of still photos on a long strip of film set to a recording on a cassette tape with words and music, and a little beep that would tell the projectionist when to advance the film.