1968 was a year that reshaped American society and American music. It was the year that Marvin Gaye heard it through the grapevine, Janis Joplin gave away another piece of her heart, James Taylor went to Carolina in his mind, and Johnny Cash recorded a landmark concert at Folsom Prison.
The musical legacy of that year is now the topic of an exhibition at UNC’s Wilson Library. “Sounds of ’68: Revolution in the Air” draws from the deep holdings of UNC Libraries’s North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives, Music Library, and Southern Folklife Collection. It celebrates the recordings and the artists that defined an era.
On view are album covers of classic LPs, reproductions of advertisements published in Billboard magazine and Cashbox, and rare photographs of artists such as Johnny Cash, Odetta, and Thelonious Monk during their North Carolina tours.
At a listening station, visitors will be able to hear entire songs from selected recordings featured in the exhibition, from Aretha Franklin to Frank Zappa.
1968 was a highly charged year. A divisive presidential campaign, the Vietnam War and protests against it, and the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy all rocked the nation. The exhibition captures a musical scene that reflected deep changes in culture and society—from psychedelic blues to country, and from soul to musical theater and classical composition.
“Sounds of ’68” will be on view through April 22, 2018. It can be viewed during Wilson Library’s regular hours of operation.