Document Type

Honors Thesis

Publication Date

Winter 12-2016


This thesis explores the relationship between ideas, attitudes, and sentiments found in popular French music of the 1960s and those that would later become important during the May 1968 protests in France. May 1968 has generated an enormous amount of literature and analyses of its events, yet there has been little previous work on popular music prior to May 1968 and the events of these protests and strikes that involved up to seven million people at its height. Using data from best-selling monthly charts in France from 1963 to 1968, this thesis links particular key aspects or ideas of May with the lyrics of popular songs that were released up to years prior to the protests. With a chapter devoted to each of the four included important aspects of May, this thesis deals, in particular, with anti-hierarchy and anti-authority attitudes, anti-capitalist sentiments, internationalism, and opposition to the Vietnam War that appeared both in these songs and, in some form, in the events of May. These songs, through their popularity and presence in the French social discourse of the time period, give further support to the larger theory that many of the causes of May were sentiments brewing much earlier than is generally thought.

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