1971 : The Year That Music Changed Everything is a music documentary based on Never a Dull Moment, a book written by David Hepworth. The documentary’s premise is that 1971 was a watershed year where rock and pop music exerted great influence on culture in the USA, the UK and the rest of the world.
Hepworth’s book never quite makes the claims that 1971 : The Year That Music Changed Everything does quite freely. In fact, Hepworth is more focused on the music itself, asserting that 1971 was the year that rock exploded and became the cultural zeitgeist. The documentary’s hyperbolic sub-title perhaps goes too far in overstating the power of music to change the socio-political landscape of the times.
Certainly, there is no denying that back in 1971 rock and pop music possessed cultural power that set the tone for music’s dominance before technology emasculated music from 2000 onwards. But that’s another story entirely. For fans of rock and pop music, especially from the 1970s, 1971 : The Year That Music Changed Everything is an absolute treat as it dedicates eight whole episodes on one special year in music.
The documentary rightfully focuses on the political aspect of pop music of that year, especially in relation to the protests against the Vietnam War and of course, the Civil Rights movement. Significantly, African-American soul artists like Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder and Curtis Mayfield brought soul beyond its romantic love songs and into the socio-political arena. There’s no doubt that the subsequent ascendancy of hip-hop can trace its roots to this moment in rock history.
Naturally, with the end of the sixties, it’s impossible not to discuss the demise of The Beatles and John Lennon and George Harrison figure prominently for their social endeavours, using their music influence to promote causes, something extremely radical back in the day.
In the final analysis, 1971 : The Year That Music Changed Everything, is best viewed as a historical snapshot of an integral epoch in rock history and nothing more. In an era where entertainment is obsessed more with self-aggrandisement than using influence for positive ends, the documentary seems like a quaint flashback of more progressive times. History teaches us nothing …
Now streaming on AppleTV+.
… still there’s more …