I Can Hear It Now: The Sixties

Walter Cronkite

Columbia / Legacy Records, 1971

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 05/16/1999

If you lived during the Sixties, you had a front row seat to the events that helped to shape the world, from mankind's entry into space to the assassination of many of America's leaders. For people like myself who came along later in the game, all we have to rely on, besides stories of personal experience, are news accounts.

Back in 1970 - the year I was born, incidentally, newsman Walter Cronkite narrated an audio history of the Sixties, I Can Hear It Now - The Sixties. Covering dozens of events, this collection served as the definitive summary of the decade. Now, as we quickly approach the millenium, this set has been released on CD for the first time. As a slice of history, it is an essential listen for anyone who wants to feel like they were there when these events unfolded.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

For those of you who wonder who Cronkite is, he was revered as one of the best newspeople and anchormen the American news media has ever seen. (After my promo copy of this disc was stolen, I had to find a place that sold this album, and you wouldn't believe the blank stares I got when I said Cronkite's name.) For those of you who lived through some of these events, hearing them might jar loose some memories - and they might not all be good ones.

For example, the coverage of the assassinations of John and Robert Kennedy contain some very powerful moments in radio and television. You literally are there when Lee Harvey Oswald (the accused assassin of John Kennedy) and Robert Kennedy are shot; even now, these snippets are very difficult to listen to, just because of the emotion they carry. I offered my father, a Vietnam veteran, the opportunity to listen to this set, but he passed on it. "The Sixties weren't very good to me," he said.

There are a few discrepancies in the track descriptions. For example, although the liner notes say that "Mrs. Malcolm X describes [her husband's] assassination", only Cronkite summarizes the event, along with snippets of speeches from Malcolm X. While these are a little disappointing, they don't distract from the overall collection.

The set - over two hours in length - is one that anyone who wants to experience some of the events of this period of history close-up will want to check out. But be warned: this is a set that doesn't really hold up well to repeat listens. While it's very enjoyable to listen to, it is a lot to digest in one sitting.

It might not seem like there's a lot to say about I Can Hear It Now - The Sixties, but it's not like I can offer a criticism of the particular tracks. This is a two-disc spoken word set documenting 10 years of history. If this is your idea of enjoyment - and, frankly, it is for me - then you should check this one out. If you're a student who is about to study the Sixties, then this set might help you understand some of the events that shaped the world. Even if you're just a bit curious, it's worth the time.

Rating: B+

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© 1999 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Columbia / Legacy Records, and is used for informational purposes only.