When you think popular music of the Soviet Union, the Beatles might not spring to mind. But in the relatively liberated time after the death of Stalin, and Khrushchev’s opening of some cultural borders, the young people of the Soviet Union soon found themselves in love with the Beatles, much like their western counterparts. Many elements of western youth culture filtered into soviet youth culture. Long hair, loud music, and drugs became the hallmark of a new counterculture movement.
Of course, much like their American brethren, Russian Beatlemaniacs and hippies were looked down upon by society for a time. “The Beatles led these young people into a filthy morass of moral dissipation,” reads one news article; “They are the so-called “hippies,” our half-baked imitators of the American and British good-for-nothings who call themselves by this name and think they are “independent,” says another. Despite this initial dislike and condemnation, the counterculture eventually becomes mainstream. “That damned music” becomes “Classic Rock,” and the world keeps turning. Eventually music schools open their curriculum to rock, and begin to encourage growth, and innovation, instead of imitation of western works. An article in a Russian newspaper lauds a folk band in 1973 that combined the instruments and lyrical style of the Beatles with Belorussian Folk Music. So when you dust off an old vinyl, remember an old babushka has the same record in her cottage.
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