Slip on your kaftans and tie-dye t-shirts. Adorn yourself with flowers and beads. We’re going to light-up some joss-sticks, “ban the bomb” and “make love not war!” This week’s theme is dedicated to that period in 1967 that saw as many as 100,000 people converge on the Haight-Ashbury neighbourhood of San Francisco, creating what was to become known as the counterculture movement. The melting pot of music, psychedelic drugs, sexual freedom, creative expression and politics became a defining moment of the 60’s and forever more will be known as THE SUMMER OF LOVE.
It’s easy to reject songs that seem to have been around forever, but consider the context of these songs’ origins and you’ll realize that what many of these musicians were doing hadn’t been done before and, in many cases, would never be done again. So respect to the hippies and the funk soul sisters & brothers and the year 1967 – a time of exploration and finding new ways of expression.
We opened the show with the THE ACID COMMERCIAL from Country Joe & The Fish and then it was the Beatles with ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE. Arguably the greatest band in the world at the top of their powers, Lennon’s anthem to love may not be his strongest but it’s definitely his catchiest. The Beatles made a worldwide television broadcast of the song, in between sessions of transcendental meditation, and it became a #1 hit in both the US & UK. Check out the clip from this transmission and see if you can see Mick Jagger in the audience.
A song that summed up the mood of those flocking to Haight-Ashbury in that Summer of 67 is, of course, Scott McKenzie’s IF YOU’RE GOING TO SAN FRANCISCO, (be sure to wear flowers in your hair). Written by John Phillips of the Mamas & The Papas, it was originally created to promote the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival, which is regarded as being the beginning of the Summer of Love.
FOR WHAT ITS WORTH, by Buffalo Springfield, is about the closing of the Pandora’s Box Club on the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles and the clash that followed between the police and kids. But the song quickly took on a larger meaning, symbolizing the generational friction happening all across the country as the hippies and flower children freaked out the authorities from coast to coast. Here’s a great clip from the Monterey Festival:
When you listen to PURPLE HAZE, from Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Are You Experienced?’ album, you can’t help but imagine the rush of a million wanna-be guitarists running into music stores hoping to be just like Jimi. Check out this video from 1967 with Jimi Hendrix on Guitar, Noel Redding on Bass and Mitch Mitchell on Drums:
In the early sixties The Beach Boys were synonymous with surfing and Californian youth culture. By the mid-sixties, however, their musical style had become a little more complex. A 1967 example of this new sophisticated sound was HEROES AND VILLAINS. We followed with a song that had the distinction of being the first track to be played on BBC Radio One when it launched in 1967, FLOWERS IN THE RAIN by The Move. And, to round out the triple play, The Turtles with HAPPY TOGETHER. This track can lift anyone’s mood. While their vocal harmonies verged on sugar-sweet, I don’t know anyone that doesn’t like this song.
I’M A BELIEVER, the Monkees’ hit, was written by none other than Neil Diamond. The song stayed at the top of the charts for six weeks and was the biggest selling single of 1967. That’s right, they even outsold the Beatles and the Stones, and while Neil Diamond, continued to write and perform, he never really needed to work another day in his life after this song took off. The Mamas & Papas hit, DEDICATED TO THE ONE I LOVE, was originally a hit for the Shirelles in 1961. Here are the Mamas & The Papas with their ’67 version:
Three more classics of the period: Cream’s I FEEL FREE, the Byrds’ SO YOU WANT TO BE A ROCK N ROLL STAR and Jefferson Airplane’s SOMEBODY TO LOVE. And then it was Procol Harum with WHITER SHADE OF PALE. This track contains perhaps the most recognizable Hammond B-3 organ rock line ever, snatched from Bach and perhaps a soul player or two. The vague lyrics, however, aren’t very memorable, making the organ bit seem even more imposing and significant than it probably deserves. But hey, what do I know? Here they are on Top of the Pops 1967. Make up your own mind.
Three more songs from that magical time in 1967 referred to as THE SUMMER OF LOVE include I’M A MAN from The Spencer Davis Group, written by Steve Winwood, SAN FRANCISCO NIGHTS from Eric Burdon & the Animals and GET TOGETHER from the Youngbloods.
But the band that epitomised the musical creativity of the sixties is The Beatles. A DAY IN THE LIFE, from their Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album, utilised a 40 piece orchestra taking 24 bars to go from the lowest note on their instruments to the highest and six people banging on three pianos at the same time in order to produce one huge power chord. The song obliterated every rule that ever existed for what a pop song should sound like and how it should be made, simple as that. Check it out:
One of the most instantly recognizable riffs in rock history is SUNSHINE OF YOUR LOVE, from Cream. And one of the most representative of the period is the Small Faces tune ITCHYCOO PARK. For me, though, when it comes to this period, I can’t overlook Janis Joplin. So an essential track from 1967 has to be Big Brother and the Holding Company with Janis Joplin singing DOWN ON ME.
Jimi Hendrix also deserved another play and this time it was FOXEY LADY. It’s probably worth mentioning here that up until this point Blues guitarists would never have done what Hendrix does on this track. The rule was that the guitar sound should be clean and pure. Jimi however, never got that memo and thank goodness for that.
As well as a time that was marked by anti-Vietnam demonstartions, 1967, unfortunately, was also a time of race riots, which also fed into the peace movement and hippie revolution with its ideals of compassion, awareness and love. So, in deference to our soul brothers and sisters, it was time for some R&B with I HEARD IT THROUGH THE GRAPEVINE by Gladys Knight and the Pips. This song became a #2 hit in 1967 and Marvin Gay’s renditon hit #1 the following year. But sticking to the plan, we listened to The Pips version and followed with the one and only Jackie Wilson with his landmark single, HIGHER AND HIGHER.
Although they were a white band, the Young Rascals GROOVIN’ was pure soul with its memorable Afro-Cuban mood and mid-tempo groove. Timeless song. Check out the clip of them performing live.
The next track was a bit of a cheat, since it wasn’t released until 1969, after the band had broken up. But TIME OF THE SEASON by The Zombies was written and recorded in August 1967 and the vibe is pure SUMMER OF LOVE, baby. And then it was the Who with I CAN SEE FOR MILES, the only real hit from their crazy concept album The Who Sell Out and SHE’S A RAINBOW from the Rolling Stones. We’ll overlook the Stones vain attempt of trying to one-up the Beatles and just concentrate on those first seven piano notes, which have been likened to the musical equivalent of heroin.
We closed the show with STRAWBERRY FIELDS FOREVER from the Beatles. The band recorded a version by themselves in one key and then they did a version with an orchestra in a different key. The version you know and love is BOTH versions mixed together, speeding the band version up and the orchestral version down. Magic. This promotional video was filmed in January 1967 and was directed by Peter Goldmann, at the time a Swedish TV director.
Now next week’s show is going to be hotter than hot. As a tribute to the upcoming Summer holiday season the theme will be HEAT. Put your thinking caps on and get in touch!
Here’s this week’s complete playlist:
Next week: HEAT
Listen to Lyn McCarthy at the Theme Park on BayFM, Tuesdays 2-4pm, Sydney time.
Also streaming on http://www.bayfm.org