1971 Apple film review – “….the year that music changed everything”

The year 1971 was a fateful year for my family. What l did not realised was how momentous the year was musically and that Bangladesh was hip then. So l learnt from watching the film 1971, the year that music changed everything. 


With Chrissie Hynde commentary through the student protests against the Vietnam war the first thing that l learn was what a revolutionary Marvel Gaye was as the 1971 film with the music of his singles “whats going on” and ends with “Intercity Blues”. The first reflects his concerns about his brother being sent to Vietnam when l thought it was all about lovers not being sure whats happening between them! And of course “Intercity blues’ about what was happening to the black community in American cities. This has also clearly changed my perspective on Motown, as l had always thought of them as solely interested in having a good time. As clearly they took some major risks in promoting the work of Marvel Gaye in those times and we are shown rare footage of the time clearly illustrates where they discussed theses issues very clearly with Marvel. 

The demise of the Beetles also features strongly in the documentary film, with both John Lennon and George Harrison clearly finding their own way whilst keeping in touch with each other. In the meantime Paul McCartney wonders into the wilderness at the start of the 1970s, though he is one that survives the longest amongst them as we all know now.   Both John and George find themselves involved in the politics of the day, John with war and peace and George more specifically with the Bangladesh Liberation War after his friend Ravi Shankar approached him to help out. George responded by organising The Bangladesh Concert in Maddison Square Gardens on the 1st of August. The first highly successful and influential humanitarian aid project, generating both awareness and considerable funds as well as providing valuable lessons and inspiration for projects that followed, such as Live Aid. All of course suggesting the Bangladesh liberation was hip in New York City at least.  I particularly like the footage of a young Tariq Ali explaining the Bangladesh liberation War to John Lennon. 

The music of 1971 clearly reflected the times but whether they shaped them is another matter altogether. One thing that helps the case of the movie, outside of what they illustrate was clearly the authorities in the US were concerned with John Lennon presence in New York and how this may influence public opinion particularly as he campaigned against Nixon’s reelection in 1972.

Alas John Lennon was killed on the streets of New York in 1980, and l am left remembering the commentary from Tariq Ali suggesting that John should not have needed to go and live in New York. We are left wondering what could have been as an anti-war campaigner had he not left our shores.

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