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On the Road: 7-12 Ball of Confusion: Rock Music & Social Change in the 1960s



Ball of Confusion: Rock Music & Social Change in the 1960s

Suggested Grade Level: 7-12

This research guide serves as a resource for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum's Education Department course, Ball of Confusion: Rock Music & Social Change in the 1960s. For additional information on the course and for more teacher resources, see:  

The history of rock and roll overlaps with some of the most turbulent times in U.S. history. In the 1960s in particular, American society faced challenges stemming from the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights movement, and the Women’s Liberation movement. During this time many people felt that the world was a “Ball of Confusion,” as described in lyrics of the popular Temptations song. This class features songs from artists including Bob Dylan, Buffalo Springfield, Aretha Franklin, and Jefferson Airplane, and helps students identify ways that popular musicians have used messages of revolution, protest, and empowerment to question society and effect change. Supplemental media includes recordings and videos of Hall of Fame Inductees.

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For Your Students

Online Resources


These resources, pulled from class discussion and selected from the Library and Archives' collections, will help you to:

  • Give examples of ways musicians have used popular music to respond to current events and suggest avenues for change.
  • Analyze the lyrics of songs that respond to social debates within the context of the Vietnam War, the 1960s counterculture, the Civil Rights movement, the Cold War, and the Women's Liberation movement.
  • Explain how music and musicians both influence and are influenced by society and culture.




Archival Resources

New to Archives? Check out:

YouTube Videos

Aretha Franklin, "Respect" 1967

Temptations, "Ball of Confusion" video clip

Buffalo Springfield, "For What It's Worth," 1967

Jefferson Airplane, "Somebody To Love," live at Woodstock, 1969

Bob Dylan, "All Along The Watchtower," Verona, May 29, 1984
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