I've been spending a lot of time thinking about the late sixties/early seventies lately. I'm reading this book about the 1960's music scene in Laurel Canyon, which launched the careers of CSNY, Frank Zappa, and Joni Mitchell, along with David Geffen and other baby boomer music producers.
At the same time, I've been listening to the Hair soundtrack (broadway musical version NOT the movie version) in my car. In retrospect, I've realized that the Hair soundtrack was a very important part of my childhood. My sister and I knew every word to every song and would amuse ourselves for hours sing-screaming the songs and dancing through the house. As anyone who has ever listened to that record can tell you, it contains some lyrics and concepts that many people would not want to expose young children to (like, for example, the songs Sodomy and Colored Spade). So I spent a number of years in shock that my parents let me listen to it and even learn all the lyrics and run around blurting them out to strangers, family acquaintances and neighbors.
Now when I listen to it, I am less surprised and more thankful. I embrace my pseudo-hippie upbringing. I was too young to experience any of the hippie culture first-hand. I was born in the 1970's (barely), so I missed what was going on, and only had any exposure to hippies, the drug-culture and Vietnam after the fact. But even though I didn't realize it at the time, a lot of what my parents exposed me to then (inadvertently or intentionally) shaped who I am today and what I believe in.
I want to be a person who cares more about what people stand for than what they look like, who is able to reserve judgment and befriend others without concerning myself with our differences, but instead embracing our similarities. I kind of think that we should all strive for that.
In the Laurel Canyon book, I'm reading the part that dissects where things went wrong and what killed the creative spirit and hippie vibe of the late sixties folk-rock scene. The author's theories seem to center around two very distinct forces. The Charles Manson murders, which made people wake up and realize that not every hippie-weirdo-freak has good intentions, and led to the closing and locking of doors throughout Los Angeles (including in the free love canyons). And cocaine, which transformed the drug culture, including in Laurel Canyon, from the lazy, creative culture of pot and LSD to the non-stop, paranoid, no sleep culture of cocaine and amphetamines, and which, in the mind of the author, killed much of the creative spark in the music that was produced.
I think he is probably right. And for some reason, that makes me sad. I think I would have really enjoyed seeing that form of hippie culture at the time instead of learning about it as part of our history now. I think that, for a corporate lawyer, I could have made a pretty decent hippie chick. Well, except for the being-around-people-who-don't-bathe-much part.
So thanks, mom and dad. Peace, flowers, freedom, happiness.