The Summer of Love: 50 Years On

It’s been fifty years since Jimi Hendrix set alight to his Fender Stratocaster at Monterey; fifty years since the Beatles released their seminal and since unmatched Sgt Pepper; fifty years since the peak of hippie-dom, the Summer of Love. So, how does society compare? Has society changed? Surely not.

A post-Brexit, President Trump-ruling apocalyptic world mirrors that of a 1960s Cold War on the brink of catastrophe. Discontent with Vietnam corresponds with present day calls of ‘Wenger Out’. The Beat Generation has become the Dab Generation. Rather than tuning in and dropping out to Timothy Leary, we are tuning into a bunch of sleeve-tattoo-stained neanderthals on MTV discussing who did who in Tiger Tiger the previous night. Rather than being everyone’s man, we are now everyone’s mate, sporting not curly locks but a sick ‘fade’. We have substituted chasing the magic dragon for the futile task of searching for imaginary Pokemon. LSD trips to Jefferson Airplane or the Grateful Dead, make way for MDMA dropping to Diplo and Deadmau5.

In 1967, arguably the greatest album to grace the shelves of HMV was released, in the form of Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Fast-forward to 2017, we have had solo material from every member of our blessed generations famous five, One Direction. 50 years ago, just as Hendrix hypnotized hippies with his pyrotechnics, Otis Redding marched out of obscurity and into the hearts of an interracial audience at Monterey. In two half hour performances, questions were seriously asked of the state of civil rights in the US.

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The Monterey Pop Festival was a marriage of musical genres, a spiritual encounter between the Los Angeles and San Francisco hippy heartlands. It was symbolic of the Summer of Love. Coachella is symbolic of all that’s wrong with modern society. Monterey represented the pinnacle of the hippy and counterculture movements, before its consequent downfall with Altamont and the Manson family. Does this mean veganism will actually be the next murderous cult?

Nevertheless, let us celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love. Jump aboard the magic bus I just ordered on Uber. My virtual stylist on ASOS tells me round glasses are back in. And get your fix of flower power; you don’t even need to physically wear flowers in your hair, technology does it for you. Scott McKenzie’s era defining San Francisco ‘If you’re going to San Francisco, be sure to wear the flowers in your hair’, still applies, just requires subtle tweaking:
‘If you’re going to San Francisco, be sure to apply the Snapchat flower crown filter to your hair’.

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