By 1968, we are commonly told, the Summer of Love had ended. The Beatles responded with the fractured, insular and troubled ‘white album’, the Rolling Stones issued sneering, provocative anthems, Street Fighting Man and Sympathy for the Devil, Dylan had almost disappeared completely save for 1967’s sparse, biblical John Wesley Harding and rock groups in general were beginning to favour the dark, the heavy, and flirting with ever-more extreme (and schlocky) satanic and otherwise unsettling imagery.
The approved narrative, of course, brings things to a head in 1969, with Altamont and the Manson killings, the end of the 60s etc. What I’m interested in is the way that the emergence of explicit darkness into popular music seems to correspond with the significant influence of several powerful women artists on their more famous male partners during that time. Arguably, the exploration of dark, chthonic sounds, themes and textures by many leading artists of the time seems to correspond with their relationships with several significant, cultured, powerful and self-determined women for whom the rock spotlight either held no place or no interest. Continue reading