Friday, July 13, 2007

Remembering the Summer Of Love while planning for the future

Thank you, Ed, for being the first to respond to this blog. One of the reasons I switched from the mailing list to the weblog format is that I wanted to get more 2-way interaction. I hate just talking about myself; I want to hear from all of you. My whole act is based on interaction, so if you're not happy, I'm not happy. Feel welcome to use this forum to freely express your thoughts.

I wanted to write a little today about the fact that this summer is of much significance to me; it is the 40th anniversary of the famous "Summer Of Love." I began learning guitar in 1964 and was playing in a band by early 1965. It was easy to be in a band at the time because the music of the day was fairly simple. By 1967 I was into my 3rd year of performing, and I was also in high school trying to figure out what the future will hold in store for me. In other words, I was in my biggest "growing" phase. Then this new kind of music began showing up on the radio and TV; they called it "psychedelic" music because the bands were probably using mind-altering drugs while writing and recording the music. I began to buy a lot of record albums to study the new music: the Beatles "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band," the "Mothers Of Invention," the Doors, Byrds, Jefferson Airplane, Big Brother and the Holding Company, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Rolling Stones, Beach Boys, Moody Blues and others. All of a sudden, the music is challenging, and local bands tended to slip into two categories; those who could learn the new, more difficult music, and those who could not. Not wanting to be left behind, I started practicing more and taking my guitar playing more seriously. This challenge is probably what set up my career as a professional musician. Because of this, I have always been particularly fond of the music that came out of the "Summer Of Love."

But while my music was changing, so were my political views and views of life in general. The "hippies" of the era were strongly against authority, and against the "straight" way of life. Businessmen were referred to as "plastic" (meaning artificial) people because they went along with whatever they were told in order to get ahead in life. It didn't matter if what they were doing was right or wrong, good or bad. And of course, there was a strong resentment against the war in Vietnam. Our young people were being sent off to die by politicians and industrialists who were profiting from the war. They tried to fool us with the slogan "War means work for all!" Anyone who felt we had no business in Vietnam and who protested the war was simply referred to as a radical, a troublemaker or a commie.

Now, on the 40th anniversary of the Summer Of Love, we are once again engaged in an unpopular war that many believe we have no business participating in. What is that old saying, "if you can't learn from history, then you are bound to repeat it?" But that's only one problem. At least in 1967 we had artistic and creative, absolutely beautiful music to listen to (although many parents still didn't like it). What do we have to listen to today to get us through the war in Iraq? Rap? House? Hip-Hop? 19 "cuss" words per sentence? Can you hum the melody of a rap or hip-hop song for me? If I want to be popular, do I need to overuse the "F" word and jump up and down on stage while grabbing my balls?

The last time I played at the De Oro Mine Company, the bartender told me the house made more money that night than when any of the "popular" bands play there. Could it be that maybe I am one of the only performing artists left over from the "old days" who is still playing "music" rather than proliferating noise?

I would like to get your opinions because I am about to sit down and record a new CD that I would like to release through commercial channels, and I would like it to be universally accepted by people of all ages, backgrounds, races and lifestyles. It is going to be a large part of my retirement income. If I could hear back from a cross section of older and younger people what you like and don't like about my music, and what are your favorite songs that I perform, it would help me plan the song selection for the new CD. So please, keep those comments coming!

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