8/CHRONICLESnPERSPECTIVEnROCK N’ ROLL NEVER FORGETS:nHEALING THE WOUNDS OF THE 60’Snby Thomas FlemingnIn 1985 the senior members of the baby boom generationnturned 40. Many of them are surprised to be still around.nThe films and songs of the 50’s and 60’s were so full ofn”disorder and early sorrow” that it was, perhaps, no surprisenhow many real-life actors and singers, who took the place ofnsoldiers and athletes in the national pantheon, did their bestnto quit the scene before embarrassing us with their gray hairnand boring reminiscences of the good old days: James Dean,nBuddy Holly, John Lennon, Elvis Presley.nSome with lives that came to nothingnSome with deeds as best undonenDeath came tacitly and took themnWhere they never see the sun.nNineteen eighty-five was inevitably the year of the yuppie,nnow that “sweet sixteen is turning thirty-one.” Morensignificantly, it was the year of Bloomington, Indiana,nwhich saw the departure of The American Spectator fornforeign parts and the return of John Cougar Mellencamp.nMr. Mellencamp symbolized his gesture by helping tonorganize the FarmAid Concert in the fall. He also releasedn1’nnn. • ‘ ^nan album tribute to the embattled American farmer.nScarecrow, which included a #1 hit, “Small Town.” In thenmiddle of the concerts on his winter tour, Mellencampnmade a graceful little pitch on behalf of the family farm,nand in Rockford, at least, his performance of “Small Town”nseemed to move the adolescent audience with somethingnapproaching patriotic fervor.nLike most of his generation, Mellencamp has beennthrough a great deal. Rock music has borne witness to thenwholesale rebellion against everything American: drugs,nfree sex, social protest. Mellencamp himself no longer doesndrugs—doesn’t even drink, he tells his audience—and hisnprotesting is confined to a defense of Middle Americannvalues that might have won a prize in a 4H essay contest.nBut why or how it all happened (what is sometimes calledn”the 60’s thing”), neither he nor anyone else can say.nAn older generation that survived World War II and thenmusic of Irving Berlin liked to blame it all on “the kids.”nPerhaps they were correct, but in looking back on the 1960’snit is hard to recall a single institution that did not betray itsnideals and purpose—“the army, the navy, the church, andnthe stage,” all seemed to fall into the hands of their naturalnenemies. It was a decade ushered in by a President whonentertained a Mafia prostitute in the White House, whileninviting the citizenry to bear any burden and pay any price;nwhen the Catholic Church undertook to “ruin the greatnwork of time”; when the armed forces of the United Statesnwere reorganized by the creator of the Edsel and sent intoncombat by bureaucrats who lied to us every night on thenevening news.nIf “the kids” were really to blame, it is a strange fact thatnthe nation’s leaders had all ripened to maturity in thosenhalcyon years after the Second World War, the golden agenof Eisenhower.nNow that we are passing through a second bourgeoisnreconstruction, an 80’s remake of the 50’s, we are increasinglyneager to ponder the significance of the postwar years.nYalta and Potsdam are still being debated by scholars andnjournalists, with all the grave sincerity of a Jacobite toastingnthe “King” over the punch bowl, and there are conservativesnwho look at the 1950’s as the best thing this side ofnparadise. The children watched Leave It to Beaver onn2I-inch-screen television sets in their suburban homes.nThey were taken to Little League practice and Sundaynschool and Cub Scouts. They listened to the good, wholesomenmusic of Frank Sinatra on the radio, and on Sundayn