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Zharth's Music Log

Week 25: The Hippie Dream

Preface: The hippies rose from the counterculture of the swingin' sixties, preaching peace and love. They used drugs for good, to expand their consciousness, while promoting their message of tolerance and unity. They spoke out against war and violence and prejudice, and for a brief period epitomized by the Woodstock Festival, showed the world a brighter, freer, and fuller form of life. And all of this is embodied in the revolutionary music they made, which continues to inspire today. This week, we'll listen to some of the most inspiring hippie anthems, and look at how they relate to the hippie dream.

Monday (1/07/08): The Youngbloods - Let's Get Together [released as a single, 1967]
Comments: "C'mon people now, smile on your brother. Everybody get together. Try and love one another right now." Tolerance in the face of prejudice, and unconditional love for your fellow man, are two tenets of the hippie ideology that are represented in this beautiful folk ballad.

Tuesday (1/08/08): The Guess Who - Share The Land [Share The Land, 1970]
Comments: "Maybe I'll be there to shake your hand. Maybe I'll be there to share the land that they'll be giving away, when we all live together." In an ideal society, people respect the links that bind us all together, instead of creating artificial barriers between us, using labels that fit us all into pre-defined roles as cogs in the big, corporate machine, which cares only about its own self-profit.

Wednesday (1/09/08): 2 for 1! The Cowsills - Hair [released as a single, 1969], and Moby Grape - Naked, If I Want To [Moby Grape, 1967]
Comments: Hippies were typically identified by either their decidedly bohemian fashion style, or else a genuinely rugged appearance - usually including unacceptably long hair on males, a sentiment glorified by the musical Hair, and its title track, recorded here by The Cowsills. Many self-affirming "freaks" saw this as a statement of their freedom to break unnecessary social standards - by letting their 'freak flag' fly. Alternatively, it was not unusual, on hippie communes and at various types of be-ins - including music and art festivals like Woodstock - for hippies to shed their clothing entirely and simply go all-natural.

Thursday (1/10/08): Quicksilver Messenger Service - What About Me [What About Me, 1970]
Comments: The hippies grew into and inherited a pretty crummy world - one that they felt they didn't want to pay for. When they discovered peace and love and mind expansion was a possibility, they openly rejected the Establishment and all of its pointless institutions.

Friday (1/11/08): Five Man Electrical Band - Signs [Good-byes And Butterflies, 1970]
Comments: This song captures the time period well. Hippies were discriminated against in mainstream society - considered dirty and liberal, and generally dangerous to the status quo. But of course the Establishment would try to protect itself from radical change. The hippies knew a better life, where a person wasn't ruled by signs from without, but by signs from within.

Saturday (1/12/08): John Lennon - Imagine [Imagine, 1971]
Comments: John Lennon's Imagine could quite possibly be the quintessential song about the hippie utopia. Lennon asks you to imagine a world not hung up on ideas of religion, nationality, and posession, all of which create borders between people and fuel all kinds of negative energy. Instead, imagine a world where people live for the moment, in peace, sharing with one another. Despite this song's popularity, it still remains only a dream...

Sunday (1/13/08): Joni Mitchell - Woodstock (Live) [Isle of Wight Festival, 1970]
Comments: Woodstock was in many ways the culmination of the hippie counterculture. Many hippies got together for one of the grooviest music festivals ever put on, and despite being flooded by attendees without tickets, the whole thing went off without a hitch - proving that the hippies' vision of peace and love could really work. Unfortunately, not long after Woodstock, that dream began to face difficulties. And though the movement lost its momentum, many of its ideals have stuck with us through the years.