Music’s Past as Prologue
It’s been 40 years since the “Summer of Love.” I wasn’t even alive—and I’m sick of hearing about it.
Whether it’s VH-1 Classic showing a documentary of the Monterey Pop Festival or Rolling Stone magazine’s self-congratulatory anniversary issues, 1967 is stomping on my last nerve.
People who got into the scene back then venerate the year and its music, making it out to be the pinnacle of Western—nay, ANY—civilization. Those who love music but weren’t alive have been led to believe that 1967 was a magical time that changed the world.
The facts say otherwise.
Don’t get me wrong—exceptional artists released amazing albums in 1967. The Doors put out their classic debut album and its impressive follow-up, Strange Days. Cream’s stunning Disraeli Gears, The Beatles’ iconic Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and Jimi Hendrix Experience’s groundbreaking debut Are You Experienced all came out then, too.
The fundamentalists who lionize 1967 disingenuously pretend that this type of quality was what the year’s music was all about. They pretend that it was totally different than today—when it’s like searching for needles in haystacks to find quality music among the pop schlock.
Sorry, folks. Forty years ago wasn’t as grand as you remember.
The top selling albums of the year? The Monkees’ More of the Monkees and The Monkees.
That’s right. A fake band created for television sold more albums than the great Beatles and Rolling Stones. COMBINED.
Top ten albums included the likes of The Sound of Music soundtrack, three albums by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, and the soundtrack to Doctor Zhivago. The Beatles barely registered at number ten with Sgt. Pepper’s. Only one true rock song, The Doors’ “Light My Fire,” even made the Top 20 singles of 1967.
Perhaps people want to remember the year for more than it was to make them feel better about today’s generally commercial, bland pop. Maybe U2 had it right about these folks in 1988’s “God Part II,” from the album Rattle and Hum:
“You glorify the past when the future dries up."