Tuesday, July 03, 2007

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."


At July 03, 2007 4:01 PM, Blogger Godwhacker replied to my musings ...

I love that U2 quote. I am old enough to have some dim memories of 1960's counter-culture. I know we had to stop going to my favorite park for a while, because people were having sex out in the open. Free? Yes, but totally unnecessary. Get a hotel room you hippy losers!

But in all fairness to The Monkeys, “Last Train to Clarksville” is a good song.

At July 03, 2007 5:20 PM, Blogger Layla (aka Barbara) replied to my musings ...

But I love the Monkees.

At July 03, 2007 7:55 PM, Blogger BeckEye replied to my musings ...

In the words of my beloved Glenn Tilbrook, "The Monkees weren't a real band/But I still loved them."

At July 03, 2007 9:08 PM, Blogger Mike replied to my musings ...

Didn't Neil Dimond write some of the songs for the Monkees? I'll have to check. I think that's also when The Assosciation was around. As for Woodstock, my Vice Principal in High School is the one dancing naked in the movie: long black hair and beads. I brought that up to her, and she really didn't bother me too much after that.

Look at another part of that "iconic culture", the cars. corvettes had begun to get bloated, Camaros were about at their prime, Mustangs were improving, but the high and pure points of those cars were past, too. Just like the people who try to appease their mid life crises with them today...sorry for the drivel.

At July 04, 2007 12:05 PM, Blogger David Amulet replied to my musings ...

GW: That quote is one my favorites--I've never researched it to see if they borrowed or adpated it from someone else. Sex in the open doesn't bother me too much ... that said, most parks in the U.S. certainly didn't see that kind of thing even at the height of the hippies. And The Monkees did make some very good, catchy music.

Layla: Agreed. I think that "A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You" and "Last Train to Clarksville" are fanastic pop tracks. Not very counterculture, though.

Beckeye: Glenn is awesome, and I've never heard that quote (lyric?). I really like it.

Mike: I know he wrote "I'm a Believer" and "A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You," and he may have done others I don't know about. Pick on him if you want, but Neil could craft a good song. Man, I wish I had that "ammo" against some of my teachers and school leaders!

-- david

At July 04, 2007 1:05 PM, Anonymous Bruce replied to my musings ...

I was around in '67(I was 15) and you're right; it wasn't all it's cracked up to be. You need to read this article written by Ted Nugent; it really brings things into focus...

At July 04, 2007 8:04 PM, Blogger bob_vinyl replied to my musings ...

It is funny how history works, isn't it? It hink there was a creative explosion in the late 60s for a variety of reasons. However, most of America wasn't part of that. Just like today, they took what they were sold, but nostalgia says otherwise. Anyway, I'm with you (and U2). The last thing I want to do is get old and say, "Back in the day..." I wasn't around for the Summer of Love, but I know that everything I have lived through has good and bad. I try to build on the good and fight against the bad, but to ignore the latter for the former is just burying one's head in the sand.

At July 05, 2007 9:02 AM, Blogger Mike replied to my musings ...

In one article in Rolling Stone it also says that Hendrix was boo'd off stage opening for The Monkees. People didn't know what was going on in 1967 (not that I was there). IMO, I don't think the albums from '67 really were appreciated until the next generation.

At July 05, 2007 9:32 AM, Blogger The Phoenix replied to my musings ...

Those damn dirty apes!

At July 05, 2007 12:11 PM, Blogger dschalek replied to my musings ...

Given that most people are stupid, the Monkees' sales don't surprise me at all.

At July 05, 2007 2:01 PM, Blogger goldennib replied to my musings ...

Eveybody remembers parts of their pasts as being better than what is currently going on, when the truth is, things really haven't changed much in eons.

At July 05, 2007 2:18 PM, Blogger Perplexio replied to my musings ...

Silly was the 80s that were the pinnacle of good music, not the 60s...

I mean Kids Incorporated vs. the Monkees in a Battle of the Bands... needs to happen someday (well actually I'd settle for a celebrity death match).

;-) oh and I'm only HALF joking about 80s music being better than 60s music.

At July 06, 2007 6:03 AM, Blogger David Amulet replied to my musings ...

Bruce: That is an interesting perspective--from someone who WAS in the middle of it!

Bob: We're already starting down that road with things like "back in the 80s, music was so good!" Well, it was and it wasn't. Sure, we love the pop metal and the rise of bands like Metallica, but it's more the nostalgia than truth because New Kids on the Block and Debbie Gibson sold a hell of a lot more records.

Mike: Your comment raises the question ... who's the jackass promoter who thought it was a good idea to put Jimi on before The Monkees?

Phoenix: It's always about evolution with you, isn't it? Damn, Stephen Colbert would have a thing or two to say about that!

DS: Pop will sell in every generation.

GN: I'll say the rate of change has changed, but otherwise we do repeat a lot of the past.

Perplexio: You had me at "80s." I would like to see the Battle of the Dead Rock Stars. Maybe not--that would be very, very dull to watch bloated, dead, drugged-up bodies just sitting there.


At July 06, 2007 12:22 PM, Blogger Stacy The Peanut Queen replied to my musings ...

Wait, wait, wait. You're not dissing The Monkees, are you?

I have had a MAJOR crush on Davy Jones for YEARS! ;)

At July 06, 2007 1:03 PM, Blogger angel, jr. replied to my musings ...

I think the younger generation--who weren't even born than, that dress or act like they were, now that can be annoying.

At July 07, 2007 12:31 PM, Blogger Ray Van Horn, Jr. replied to my musings ...

I missed this era by three years, and actually this is a topic I was going to blog about, meaning eras of music or albums you wish you were alive for, but to address your well-written rant here, I can sum it up by my mother's experiences as being those who lived certain facets and aspects of 1967 are going to have differing attitudes about it. It's probably nothing more than nostalgia for the great things that overrides the negatives.

At July 08, 2007 11:07 AM, Blogger Grafs replied to my musings ...

Being the daughter of two die-hard hippies, I agree with you. People are nostalgic because they like to believe that Brittany Spears is an anomaly occurrence to the world of music and certainly nothing like that would have happened in the days of (g)old.

At July 08, 2007 11:16 AM, Blogger Janet replied to my musings ...

We don't name summers anymore. Why is that? I mean I know all about the Summer of Love too, from a distance that is. But we've had plenty of summers since. Surely one of them was worthy of being named, right?

At July 08, 2007 4:27 PM, Blogger Jeff replied to my musings ...

Great U2 quote! Also great post, I'm a little sick of hearing about the Summer of Love as well, I'm not quite sure why forty years is so important?

At July 08, 2007 6:56 PM, Blogger Mike replied to my musings ...


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It would just take a few minutes of your time. The interview form can
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At July 09, 2007 11:36 AM, Anonymous LisaB replied to my musings ...

OK, I hate to admit it but I really do like "The Monkees!" Both the tv show and the songs. Fluffy but still fun.


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