In the United States during my life, the struggle for civil rights and against American apartheid gave rise to some of the highest uses of art.
John Coltrane's "Alabama" came out of the pain and anger and the moral resolve caused by the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Burmingham Alabama, the murder of four little girls. He used the rhythm of The Reverend King's address, as he read it in the paper, composing one of the more profound compositions of the 1960s. The composition and the ensemble rose to an inspiration that wasn't egocentric, that allowed the composition and the performance of it inhabit an entirely higher level of existence than even most jazz attains. As the notes to this performance points out, Elvin Jones drum playing is essential in delivering the substance, turning the irreconcilable grief of the piece into resolve to change things, to improve reality, to demand justice.
From two years earlier Max Roach's great album, We Insist! is another document attesting to the higher use of reality in music, in this case a lot of the meaning was delivered by the great Abbey Lincoln singing that meaning but the playing accompanying her also delivers profound commentary on both the melody and lyrics, illustrating and enlightening their meaning.
In both case the arc of the music if from the painful to the resolve that things will be better but only if we make it better. You don't do that without an utterly serious treatment of the occasion and the material, taking up the time of the audience and the musicians for something more important than a pop concert does. Which is why Jazz frequently rises to the level of the highest art as it it put to the highest use music can be.
As the backlash to civil rights gained ground, as the left was taken out of the hands of idealists who had a solid grasp of what the goals were, the actual improvement of the lives of real people, poor people, people who had no money, spoke a disdained form of English, who had bad teeth all because they were intentionally kept from good wages and the education that was their right, the idealistic use of music became unfashionable. Cynical disdain for it, the praise of the stupid and ephemeral (embalmed and kept together far longer than its substance warranted) was matched by a bunch of stupid brats forcing themselves in front of the camera in order to get attention for themselves with violent, stupid antics. The left stalled out, a condition we still face today. Any popular music milieu in which John Lennon's sappy "Imagine" can stand as one of the few inspirational numbers that is allowed to stand unchallenged is one which has stopped serving any purpose. There are songwriters and musicians who still do serious topics, they should insist on more from the music industry than they are allowed. We've got a huge number of serious occasions that need to be expressed, that need the same kind of energy behind it that these two pieces had.