Spanish 300

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Extended Essay in History You Say You Want a Revolution: Sociopolitical Sentiments of the Beatles’ White Album Research question: How did John Lennon and Paul McCartney use the White Album to express their sociopolitical views in 1968? Candidate Number: 003328013 Candidate Name: Jenna Menefee School Number: 003328 Daphne High School May 2010

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! Abstract

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This extended essay is an investigation of the Beatles’ White Album and the social and political implications in a selection of its songs. There are three specific songs being explored in this essay: “Back in the U.S.S.R”, “Blackbird”, and “Revolution”. The history behind these songs will be discussed as well as the public’s frequentmisinterpretation of their meaning. The essay will specifically examine the question: How did Lennon and McCartney use the White Album to express their sociopolitical views? The scope of this essay will identify whom the Beatles were, what was happening around the world in 1968 (the year the album was recorded), the band’s internal conflicts during this time, and the impact of three songs on thisalbum. The essay will also give historical background into the issues being dealt with in the late 1960s, especially those dealing with political and social turmoil. This exploration of the White Album leads to the conclusion that while the Beatles did not necessarily see themselves as the agents of change they were purported to be, they had certain sociopolitical views and sometimes used their songsto express these views. They had evolved from the adorable, homogeneous “four lads from Liverpool” to four distinct musicians with individual personalities and strengths. While the dynamic duo of Lennon and McCartney would last only another year after the album was released, the music contained in the White Album has remained culturally and musically relevant over the last 40 years.

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! Table of Contents

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Abstract…………………………………………………………………………………………....2 Introduction………………………………………………………………………………………..4 The Beatles………………………………………………………………………………………...4 The Year 1968……………………………………………………………………………………..5 Tension in the Band……………………………………………………………………………….5 Back in the U.S.S.R……………………………………………………………………………….7 Blackbird…………………………………………………………………………………………..9Revolution………………………………………………………………………………………..11 Conclusion……………………………………………………………………………………….14 Work Cited……………………………………………………………………………………….16

! Introduction

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The year 1968 was a time of great social and political upheaval. There was the war in Vietnam, drug usage, hippie culture, college unrest, and the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy. By that time, theBeatles had changed the course of popular music, several times. The Beatles’ popularity and influence was such that millions of young people thought the group had all the answers. To many, they were Messiahs and their music was a surrogate for scripture. In November 1968, they released their ninth album, The Beatles, commonly referred to as The White Album. It is a double album containing 30 songs,which encompasses an incredible variety of styles. Much has been written about this eclectic collection of songs. This ranges from John Lennon’s wordplay in “Glass Onion” to urban myths (i.e., Paul is dead) to cryptic messages in songs like “Helter Skelter” to the political issues in “Revolution 1”. While The White Album is considered by many to be ahead of its time, it is also clearly areflection of its time. Here, the Beatles grapple with the profound questions of their generation. While they never claimed to have all the answers, there are many who believed that they did. Some, including the notorious Charles Manson, even believed the Beatles were speaking to him through their lyrics. This paper will explore the social and political sentiments expressed in three of the album’s songs...
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