There have been a lot of big cultural changes since the Sixties, and no one has covered them like Rolling Stone. But some changes escape the eyes of even the most perceptive observers. We recognize them only in retrospect, and once we do we suddenly realize that artists – especially musicians – were not merely seeing the revolution, but expressing them from the very start. Often, we were even singing along!
My new book, Going Solo, tells the story of the biggest modern social change that we've yet to identify: the extraordinary rise of living alone.
Until the middle of the 20th century, no society in human history had sustained large numbers of singletons. In 1950, for instance, only 4 million Americans lived alone, and they accounted for less than 10 percent of all households. Today, more than 32 million Americans are going solo. They represent 28 percent of all households at the national level; more than 40 percent in cities including San Francisco, Seattle, Atlanta, Denver, and Minneapolis; and nearly 50 percent in Washington D.C. and Manhattan, the twin capitals of the solo nation.
The numbers are even higher in Europe and Japan. And they're growing fastest in places with rapidly developing economies, from China and India to Brazil.
For this Valentine's Day, I put together a playlist of fifteen songs for going solo, and an extended set of many others that you can listen to on Spotify. Got your own favorites? Share them! After all, no one can get it all right on their own.
by Eric Klinenberg
With contributions from Jennifer Lena, Dan Ozzi, and Ed "DJ Jah Karma" Russ