The Fifties Child: A Social History through the Songs of Barclay James Harvest
The Fifties Child is a revolutionary approach to standard, chronological rock band histories instead of concentrating on a blow by blow account of Barclay James Harvest’s story, this book takes inspiration from more than 125 songs written over the band’s 40-plus year career that deal with societal subjects and presents a social history dealing with the period of the life of a Fifties Child.
Coming to consciousness in the 1950s, the Fifties Child would face a very different world to that of previous generations. In the aftermath of two cataclysmic World Wars, the Fifties Child’s generation would break free from the strictures of an authoritarian past, rejecting the authority of Church and Man, but would have to face a rapidly changing world under constant threat of violent conflict of some kind. Imbued with the ‘summer of love’ and under peer pressure to trip out on drugs, how would this generation survive the onslaught of the age?
Alex Torres’ topical approach to Barclay James Harvest’s songs has produced an insightful social history that covers many of the key aspects of the second half of the 20th century and the early part of the 21st. As a result, The Fifties Child will appeal not only to fans of the band for its in-depth analysis of many songs, but also to general readers and social historians who are interested in seeing how the momentous life of the post-War world is reflected in song. Amongst the aspects included in this social history are the Cold War (the Soviet threat, nuclear warfare, Berlin); the Troubles in Northern Ireland; South Africa under apartheid; Vietnam; politics & the media; sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll (along with other aspects of popular culture); nature and the environment. A review of issues of unique importance to us all as we grow older is also covered: the battle for the mind against the ravages of temptation and depression, and the search for a satisfactory spirituality to suit the modern world. Corroborative societal observations from other songwriters are also described within this social history: amongst the artists referenced are Yes, Jethro Tull, Camel, Renaissance, the Sutherland Brothers, Strawbs, Black Sabbath, Hawkwind and more.
Fans of Barclay James Harvest will revel in fresh and revealing interpretations of songs from throughout their history, including classics such as ‘Summer Soldier’, ‘For No One’, ‘Child of the Universe’, ‘Poor Man’s Moody Blues’, ‘Lady Macbeth’, ‘Revolution Day’ and many others.
This book is an absolute must for fans of Barclay James Harvest and rock fans with a social conscience!
– 368 pages
Published by Desert Hearts, February 2013
About the author
ALEX TORRES has previously worked as a scientist and engineer for the British Antarctic Survey and Central Electricity Generating Board (and successor companies) but he left the rat-race in 2005 to help his wife run a boarding kennels. His love of music has since led him to write numerous reviews and articles for the Classic Rock Society magazine and the Sea of Tranquility and Dutch Progressive Rock Page websites. The Fifties Child: A Social History Through the Songs of Barclay James Harvest is his first book.