I believe it was Robin Williams–God rest his soul–who once quipped: “If you remember the sixties, you weren’t really there.” I remember the sixties, or at least the later portion of it. Born a member of the baby boom generation in 1954, I was well into my teens as the 70s rolled around, and remember clearly seeing the Beatles’ American debut on the Ed Sullivan Show.
I’ve always been musically talented. Even as a young child, I could hear a piece of music once and pick out the melody and chord structure on the piano, and later, the guitar. I took up the guitar because at the time, it was long-haired musicians that seemed to be getting the majority of female attention, something I was very much interested in experiencing. I learned music, rapidly and accurately by ear, and it wasn’t until my 30s when I took a degree in music, that I suddenly understood the theory and structure behind everything I had always known and played.
As a youngster, I played with a variety of bands, and despite being around the drugs popular at the time, was also an athlete, and was, perhaps, just barely smart enough to realize I didn’t need to derange and destroy the pitifully small quantify of functioning brains cells I had. I became, therefore, a sort of observer of the long haired human condition, and the lessons were obvious.
Many creative people, rock musicians particularly, thought drugs made them so much more creative, giving them artistic powers they never dreamed possible. Hoo boy were they wrong.
Pot smokers thought their chemical derangement made them rock and roll gods. It actually destroyed their sense of tempo, and played havoc with their already limited abilities to concentrate. Playing with them was rather like playing In A Gadda Da Vida, but without any sense of coherent musicality, or an eventual coda. They played on and on, floating in a universe where key, harmony, melody, rhythm and meter had no apparent application or connection. I often found myself playing the occasional–unrelated–chord when they momentarily popped back into earthly reality, but otherwise, propped my hands on my instrument and watched the carnage.
Speed freaks were much the same, only they made every mistake faster and louder, thought the sober people were the problem, and were generally frantic and nasty about it all.
Oh, the good old days!
I did enjoy some of the music of the times, such as The Byrds, and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. I still play their tunes. So I was delighted to come across this tweet:
Obviously, McGuinn somehow managed to retain sufficient functioning brain cells to keep a sense of humor.
And it’s also nice–or maybe just typical–to know that the more things change, the more they stay the same. In the 90s, I attended a concert in the park. Performing was a local stoner band, and grooving to the music, as the hip young people say, were the local stoners. It was getting late at night and I wasn’t there because I appreciated incomprehensible, unintentionally dissonant music. I was the man. It was getting late and the non-local stoners living near the park were becoming progressively less impressed.
I stood by, amused, watching the band, all of whom were clearly in a different dimension, as they finished their final two numbers, which I allowed before kicking them out. The drummer managed to knock all his cymbal stands over, and had torn the head of his snare drum, but kept playing regardless. The guitarist had only three remaining strings, and those were out of tune. The bassist somehow managed to retain all four strings, but rather than being tuned in fourths, they actually made a sort of out of tune chord, which was obviously unintentional. Need I mention their lyrics were incomprehensible, and their singing as atonal as Wozzeck?
That experience, and my many gigs with musicians moved to other, ecstatic, though non-musical, dimensions came rushing back to mind when I found this:
These people, these Tide Pod eaters, are the future. In other words, gentle readers, we’re doomed.