Revisiting The Summer of Love, 1967

Disraeli Gears – Cream – Art by Martin Sharp

The original Summer of Love: a time when Hendrix, Lennon, Joplin and Morrison still walked the Earth. As of this past summer, it was 50 years ago – and it set the bar and sonic tone for the decades since.

Music has changed as much as our attitudes, and in some ways, it seems something profound was lost. It’s a new era. The Age of Aquarius isn’t talked about anymore. Flowers aren’t placed in the barrels of M-16s at peace rallies anymore. For the most part, protests aren’t peaceful anymore. Woodstock has yet to become the pinnacle of an age, a philosophy and way of life.

Janis Joplin © Jim Marshall Photography LLC

It seems hope for peace and a higher road/consciousness have been left behind, and music reflective of true possibility with it. Where are the lessons and answers from that hopeful, innocently hedonistic time? Innocence was once a feather in a cap, rather than something avoided at all costs.

The very fact that I’m listening to the Beatles, 50 years on in the lobby of the Belmont Hotel in Dallas, evoking the late ‘60s, while writing this piece makes the dichotomy between then and now all that more profound. It makes me wonder if it’s possible to return to and revalue the effects and lessons of that amazingly profound summer when Haight-Ashbury became the world and vice versa.

The Who by Jim Marshall

Maybe if we keep listening to the music and the messages still echoing and maturing from that era, we’ll hear it all with our souls, as well as our ears. Maybe if we keep listening to each other with open minds and hearts, we’ll have a chance to pick up where we left off – where we were so rudely interrupted by yet another war no still one understands.

Maybe then. Maybe then we can start placing flowers in gun barrels once again. Maybe it’ll make a difference this time. Maybe one day we won’t have to. ‘Til then.

Poster by Bonnie MacLean

Experience the Summer of Love here (courtesy of AmericanExperiencePBS):

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