This one’s found toward the end of side one of the first Steve Miller Band album which sort of stumbled out of freak scene San Francisco at a time when nobody at the business end of things really knew how to handle all the psychedelic weirdness, so they just got out of the way. Thank all gods for that. Because there are few better examples anywhere of just how delirious things were in those days. Songs broke down, evaporated into seagulls and drones, found some bluesy B.B. King riff, evolved into profound and visionary choruses, ended up getting titles that had nothing to do with anything you’d actually heard. Maybe you had to be there, but maybe we all were, in our way, and still are, we children of that madly accelerated past’s glowing future.
“The Strawbs original recording of Where is This Dream of Your Youth? is nice enough, a nifty little bit of folk pop, but it’s Rick Wakeman‘s sustained live freakout on the Hammond organ (found on 1970’s Just a Collection of Antiques + Curios) that hooked me, and keeps on hooking me, just keeps going, going, going through the decades – peaks and valleys and all manner of long haired freaky looking people grooving along in smoke filled rooms, smelling of incense and wacky tabacky. Because groovy still meant something in those days, with a new decade dawning, the revolution at hand. Or so it must have seemed.” (Philip Random)
How do you tell if there’s a hippie in the room? Say, “Jesus was a Capricorn.” Hippies must immediately follow with, “He ate organic food“. It’s in their training. But that’s okay. It’s a solid tune – Kris Kristofferson likening our great lord and saviour ™ to the hippies of his day, and suggesting that were he to wander down Main Street, he’d likely suffer the same old brutal fate as 1,972 years previous. Because everybody’s gotta have somebody to look down on, someone to feel better than, any time they please.
“Dedicated to old friend James who got badly traumatized by all the hippies who dominated his camp the summer he spent tree planting. All they ever wanted to do after a long day’s work was smoke their brains and listen to Bob Marley, maybe bongo along, and urge him to chill whenever he wanted to hear some Clash or Sly and the Family Stone, or even the Beatles. So he ended up coming to hate all of the great man’s music. Except Midnight Ravers. For some reason, he could never quite give up on Midnight Ravers.” (Philip Random)
“Taproot Manuscript was the album where Neil Diamond made it clear he wasn’t going to be just some fresh-faced popster anymore. He was going to be going deeper now, and higher. Yeah, the hippies were sneering at him because his jeans weren’t torn or faded or crusty enough (and he probably used cologne), but who really cared if he could deliver a song as perfect as Coldwater Morning? Particularly that high note he hits in the chorus. That’s the kind of thing that stops time if you’re twelve or thirteen and just starting to figure out what passion really is. How deep it goes.” (Philip Random)
Hate on Chicago (the band) all you want, but you’d be a fool to write off their first couple or few albums, particularly the first one, when the band was still known as Chicago Transit Authority. 1969 was the year, and the smoke from the crash and burn from the so-called hippie revolution was still lingering in the near distance (at least that’s what the experts say). But the evolutionary energy was still percolating, such that a big fat double album from a big fat seven piece band could erupt from it all with equal parts power and precision. Just try to keep still for their take on I’m A Man.
“The Grateful Dead at their most American and beautiful. It says so on the album cover (if you look closely). It’s 1970 and the drugs aren’t so much wearing off in the land of the Dead as imposing a desire for something a little more grounded, relevant to the reality of things like gravity, the ground itself, the stuff we’re standing on (unless there’s concrete in the way). Anyway, Box Of Rain is just a beautiful song. Even my mom likes it. Don’t know what it’s about and I don’t really care. The sun is shining and the dark star has crashed. What more do you need?” (Philip Random)
“Evol (the name of the album in question) is love spelled backward, which is pretty much what was going on in 1991, Vancouver’s Pacific Coliseum, as Sonic Youth warmed up Neil Young + Crazy Horse, choosing not to pander even slightly to all the aging hippies in the house, but rather to deliver unto them a profound and beautiful and sustained NOISE. The climax came with Expressway to Yr Skull, which actually starts out kind of nice, but then ‘We’re Gonna Kill – The California Girls – We’re gonna fire the exploding load in the milkmaid maidenhead.’ The hippies were very confused, angry even, but I just laughed. The times, they just kept a-changing.” (Philip Random)
“I found this Buck Owens cover of a Simon + Garfunkel nugget in Cache Creek, British Columbia, I think, thrift store, mid-90s sometime. An entire album of electrified countrified takes on some of that hippie sh** the kids were so into at the time (1971). And delivered with all due sincerity, because don’t fool yourself. Nobody knows lonely like a one man island, or a Country + Western superstar.” (Philip Random)