Week 6 (Sounds of Laughter)

Academic Conversation Skill: Objections and Concessions
Concept: [Counter-]Counterculture
Time Period: 1960s

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Objections and Concessions

Entertaining Objections

  • Of course, many will probably disagree with the assertion that ______________. (adapted from Graff and Birkenstein 2006, 78)

Naming Your Naysayers

  • Here, many X would probably object/argue that ____________________. (adapted from Graff and Birkenstein 2006, 79)

Introducing Objections Informally

  • However, does the evidence I’ve cited proves conclusively that _________________? (adapted from Graff and Birkenstein 2006, 80)

Making Concessions While Still Standing Your Ground

  • Although I grant that _______________, I still maintain that ________________.
  • While it is true that ________________, it does not necessarily follow that __________________. (adapted from Graff and Birkenstein 2006, 91)


“If escapism and self-indulgence were the primary characteristics of much of the psychedelic humor coming from both sides of the Atlantic [meaning in the US and UK] during the mid- to late 1960s, there were other contemporaries less enamored with these journeys into withdrawal and (inevitably) apathy. Oppositional forces – led by Frank Zappa and Lou Reed from the West and East coasts of the United States, respectively – set about creating a counter-counterculture. With their feet firmly grounded (rather than with their heads airily in the clouds), these artists brought a cold, hard stare to the realities of 1960s America.” (Ellis 2008, 96)

“The bubblegum genre that popped up in 1968 was – in many respects – a counter-reaction to a rock culture that had been following the lead of the Beatles in seeking sounds of increasing complexity and that of Bob Dylan in constructing lyrics of philosophical and/or abstract purposes.” (Ellis 2008, 96)

Performance Example (1960s)

This video contrasts two types of “counter-counterculture.” The first is from Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, “Plastic People” (1967). This piece critiques the attitudes and lifestyles of Americans and makes a dissonant, warped reference to the song “Louie, Louie” (popularized by The Kingsmen in 1963) [other, older versions of the song here]. The second is the song “Yummy Yummy Yummy” (1968) by Ohio Express – an example of the Bubblegum style that emerged in the late 1960s as a reaction against more artistically and lyrically complex rock music (of which Zappa was an offshoot of).

See Also:

Frank Zappa on YouTube

The Ohio Express on YouTube

Reading Questions

  • In what ways were Zappa (and others such as Reed) and Bubblegum pop reacting against mainstream/countercultural/psychedelic music in the 1960s?
  • Can you think of other examples of drastically different reactions to a musical and/or comedic form?
  • If you were to defend one reaction as more valid than the other, what concessions might you make when offering your argument?

Performance Questions

  • In what ways are these two examples different? What kinds of musical comedy/humor do they use?
  • Can you think of more recent forms of musical comedy that are influenced by either one of these performances?


Review your assignment materials from the past weeks. Compose at least two sentences that accomplish at least two of the following objectives: entertaining objections, naming your naysayers, introducing objections informally, and/or making concessions while still standing your ground. Post as a Word file. (Due the Friday after class @ 5pm PST)

Other Sources for [Counter-]Counterculture

Barker, Hugh, and Yuval Taylor. 2007. Faking it: The quest for authenticity in popular music. New York: W. W. Norton.

Other 1960s Performers

YouTube Links

Allan Sherman

Bob Dylan

Herman’s Hermits*

Lou Reed

Sherman Brothers

Smothers Brothers 

Stealers Wheel, “Stuck In The Middle With You” (1972) [from the 70s, but a parody of 60s-era Bob Dylan]

Tom Lehrer

Velvet Underground


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