We're in the war and we can't get out and he knows it. And you ask, does this affect him? Yes it does. There are various memoirists who later maintain that Johnson was so distraught as to perhaps even losing his mind and seeing Communists under the bed. I think one has to be careful in accepting these sources because [the accounts] were usually given by people who later broke with Johnson. But clearly, it was troubling for him.
When the Watts Riot occurs — that's the other great, destructive event of 1965 — it comes as a complete surprise to everybody. It happened only five days after Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act. This, of course, made a lot of white people sit up and say, "hey, wait a minute, this isn't what we had in mind with supporting a civil rights movement." And it forced the civil rights leaders themselves to turn more attention to northern grievances and further radicalized them. So it was destructive to the existing civil rights movement and to the possibilities of further civil rights legislation.
YOU WRITE ABOUT A SHIFT IN POP MUSIC IN 1965. TELL ME ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED AND WHAT IT SAID ABOUT THAT MOMENT. Most of the top pop tunes in '64 and '65 — the Beatles for instance, the Supremes, Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, and also the folk music people like Dylan and Peter, Paul & Mary, and so forth — most of this was melodic. The singers were not singing anti-war or, for the most part, topical tunes.
Compare, for instance, the Beatles' "I Want to Hold Your Hand," which is a 1964 song — first big hit over here — to one of the striking new songs, which is "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction," by the Rolling Stones, which they brought out in June of 1965. This was a topical tune, to some extent, and it was a little more sexually explicit. And then you have Dylan going electric at the Newport Folk Festival in July and his song "Like a Rolling Stone" is rather dark and not at all uplifting.
The best example of this, though, and why the book is titled "Eve of Destruction," is the song "Eve of Destruction," which Barry McGuire brought out in September — it, too hit the top of the hit parade — and this is topical, loud, thumping with background-noise bombs, talking about Selma, talking about nuclear weapons, talking about Vietnam. I wouldn't argue that the pop music of '65 was as topical or as focused on the war as it was later to become by time of Woodstock in '69. But by '65, you can begin to see these changes.