I almost cut my hair, it happened just the other day.
It was gettin’ kinda long, I could’ve said it was in my way.
But I didn’t and I wonder why, I feel like letting my freak flag fly,
And I feel like I owe it to someone. – David Crosby “Almost Cut My Hair”
When I was a kid, I did everything I could possibly dream of to rebel against the dreaded Establishment. The music of our generation was the purest expression of what so many of us felt as a deep seeded need to break away from the herd, and to be…different.
From the hair we grew to the clothes we wore and the __________ we smoked, we were the freaks of Ozzie & Harrietville! To us, the term freak was the badge of honor and individual nobility we proudly wore. We were about non-conformity and thinking outside the box. We avoided mainstream like the plague and sought our enlightenment and our entertainment from non-commercial underground sources.
In these early days, there was something beautifully spontaneous…natural, organic and simply magical about the entire movement! It was from this fertile ground where all the conditions were just right…that the sun, the moon, the stars and planets all danced in celestial alignment for mankind’s closest brush with a nirvanic-utopian existence that peaked at Woodstock…And then it crashed!
Now there are a thousand and one perspective lenses through which to view this period in our culture. I imagine some would be a little less flowery than what I’ve offered here, and I have to say that I myself feel a certain amount of embarrassment at how naïve and taken-in we allowed ourselves to become. The fact of the matter is that none of us bothered much to think through the application of our ideals (to the mind-jarring dismay of our parents). But the truth is that we found something there worth holding on to…and extremely hard to find today. My use of the word nobility above was far from accidental by the way…
Something happened after Woodstock…a co-opting influence that slowly turned non-conformity into a conformation of the hippest sheepsters on the planet. The peace sign became a brand logo and one-by-one the legion of musical legends sold out as the entire entourage moved into the hectic flow of mainstream. The innocence of Woodstock collapsed into the darker self-indulgent tragedy of Altamont in the blink of an eye. But Who were the Co-opters? How, Why and Where were they taking us?? Fast forward to the present…
…Welcome to the New World Order, where Melanie’s “Look what they’ve done to my song mom” lament has become the sugary fly paper-lure of the Establishment’s #1 Propaganda Machine at MSNBC! Where the Establishment’s Progressive Pied Piper President leads a Chronically Misinformed, Catastrophically and Collectively Conformed Citizenry into the Raging River of its RED INK demise…while the Ruling Class Rats get Fat on Capitol Hill!
And look over yonder my fellow American! Look who’s standing there in the breach boldly drawing fire from all quarters, refusing to give an inch to a tyrannical regime so evil and foul it would have made King George blush scarlet! Yesterday’s Freak has become today’s Tea Party Savior of America!! That wasn’t in the yearbook!!! 🙂
It seems there were two of us who wore the love beads. One of us believed in the Summer of Love while the other simply experienced it as a stylish way to get high and pick up chicks. I guess the more things change, the more they really do stay the same. We find new ways to sing the same old song, thumping bare-chested screaming into microphones how we Won’t Get Fooled Again…but we always do don’t we!
There’s another summer coming. And unlike the one 45 years ago, this one is going to be one very long hot and…mean-spirited clash. I stayed awake while you slept. I watched the shadow creep into your dreams to take you away from me. I cried when you awoke, unable to recognize me. But I will die where I stand before I ever let them take you from me.
Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see…