Lively though superficial survey of the annus mirabilis that brought us “Eve of Destruction,” “Like a Rolling Stone” and “Help!”
Journalist/filmmaker Jackson doesn’t serve up much of a thesis beyond the rather vaporous observation that the year 1965 “is the moment in rock history when the Technicolor butterfly burst out of its black-and-white cocoon.” Put another way, enough musicians had dropped acid by then to alter the course of pop music, which had been spinning through cycles of folk, R&B, jazz and rock and was now making a mélange of all of them, courtesy of inchoate groups as far afield from each other as the Mothers of Invention, the Doors and the Velvet Underground—and atop the stack, as ever, the indomitable Beatles. There’s not much new in the individual bits of data assembled here, though Jackson’s gleanings are sometimes pleasing. High points include the makings of the Beatles’ song that would become “Drive My Car,” a recording which John Lennon sagely said, “It needs cowbell,” and of the anthemic “Eve of Destruction,” which the Byrds and their lesser peers the Turtles (then the Tyrtles) rejected—and wisely, for, as the latter’s Howard Kaylan said, “whoever recorded this song was doomed to have only one record in their/his career.” The year was light on hard-charting women, though Jackson does a solid job covering the hit-makers, including a very young Cher and an ever-so-earnest Mary Travers. The author occasionally stretches a little too far: If a cigar is sometimes just a cigar, then the white shirt of “Satisfaction” might just be a shirt and not an occult commentary on racism, and it’s downright silly to claim that Dylan’s “From a Buick Six” is “a psychic flash of the motorcycle accident that will take Dylan off the road a year later.”
Good enough as far as it goes, but Peter Guralnick and Greil Marcus can rest easy, unthreatened by competition here.