Write to the Point- This ain't the summer of love
This ain't the Garden of Eden
There ain't no angels above
And things ain't like what they used to be
And this ain't the summer of love
Blue Oyster Cult
Like all good fans of rock ‘n' roll, I have my requisite copy of The Beatles' “Sgt. Pepper.” Not on vinyl, of course, but on CD.
I also have The Doors' first album, along with Pink Floyd's “Piper at the Gates of Dawn.” While I don't own Jefferson Airplane's “Surrealistic Pillow,” I do have a decent compilation that features “White Rabbit” and “Somebody to Love” from that release.
All of the above, of course, were released in 1967 and saw heavy airplay during the summer of love. Any American over the age of 45 probably can give you some hazy (and some even hazier) recollection of what it was like living back then. As someone who won't turn 40 until next January, I pretty much spent the summer of 1967 as a comfortable fetus enjoying my second trimester and making my mother throw up a lot.
Thumbing through the 40th anniversary issue of Rolling Stone magazine, you'll see lots of pictures of folks who seem to remember that year pretty well. The likes of Mick Jagger, Patti Smith, Jack Nicholson, Steven Spielberg and more recount what they're experiences were like at the time and how it shaped them into becoming the people they eventually became. And there are also some (oftentimes forced) parallels made between the times then and now.
For example, there is quite a bit of discussion on, not surprisingly, the Vietnam War and how it compares to our occupation of Iraq. Spielberg tells of how he was terrified of the draft and how he worked hard in college to keep his grades up so he could keep his deferment.
And Smith says you don't see the same protest to Iraq as Vietnam because 3,000 sets of parents have lost kids in the current conflict as opposed to 50,000.
Neil Young points out that you can't expect the same reaction now as people vehemently protested Vietnam because it simply isn't the same level of sacrifice.
“America doesn't know it's in a war,” Young contends. “Nobody is asked to sacrifice, except for the soldiers who volunteered…but as soon as they have a draft, you'll see everything change immediately.”
The Grateful Dead's Bob Weir says, too, that the media is partially to blame.
“We would watch the news and see the bodies coming back (from Vietnam),” he says. “We don't see bodies coming back these days. The carnage is the same. But we don't see it on TV.”
With boomers now in their late 50s and early 60s, you get a certain amount of a “back in my day” vibe from some of the interviewees, who gleefully point out that things are much different now than they were in 1967.
Smith rails on the evils of credit cards and how kids today – who simply have to download music from the Internet instead of actually having to take a bus downtown and buy it at a record store – comes off as particularly cranky when she says today's youth don't know how the meaning of, you guessed it, sacrifice.
It's a safe bet, though, that the so-called Greatest Generation – that lived through the Depression and World War II – would argue that the youth of the ‘60s had it pretty good and have no reason to complain.
Even Jagger – who pretty much defines the 1960s – says that time period is not what people think it was.
“It's all been overdone and over-roasted,” Jagger states. “Of course the ‘60s was an important period but in retrospect, what were the achievements and what were the downsides? It's open to a tremendous amount of argument.”
An argument that, apparently, will go on. As Nicholson notes, many of us – as with the generations that came before -- will eventually become what we hate.
“Many of the people who were members of the so-called peace movement are now members of the right wing,” he relates. “I'm not.”