James Fleming has opinions and uses “language” and today addresses the “Love Generation”. You have been warned! 

Dismissed as “dirty hippies” the idealists and the dreamers are free to wander. To explore space “both inner and outer.”

Free to traverse our insignificant blue-green globe, sweaty and broke, wishing it was still ’67 and you could hitchhike without fear of being kidnapped by the sociopaths. F%@k C. Manson, it’s all his fault.

Was it a more innocent time? I doubt it. Read On The Road, if innocence is the absence of good music, drugs and the bop-de-bop, well that shit’s been around since pre-1957. It wasn’t innocent. Was it hell.

It was under the carpet is where it was; the rock n’ roll, the drugs and the bop-de-bop. Then flower-power bloomed for the briefest flash of technicolour before closing again.

But not completely.

The dregs of the hippie dream swirl about us like the omnipresent ganja smoke everyone’s inhaling nowadays. It’s different, but it’s there.

The hippies. We have them out here on the westernmost tip of Europe too. Still swanning about like it’s the summer of love. Be-dreadlocked and too cool and/or stoned to care that the summer of love was officially fifty fucking years ago and that they really should know better at this stage.

Good. Let them.

Frank Zappa stated the sixties “weren’t that great.” The Stooges opened their immortal debut album with the groovy “it’s 1969 and I DONT CARE!” Not everyone bought into the hippie dream. And nor should they have.

The hippies, like the beats before them, should have been a startling celebration of the individual. Instead, it turned into saccharine marketing and flare-bottomed conformity. And guys like Iggy and Zappa just didn’t fit the mould.

Which is where the true spirit of the sixties lies methinks. Iggy’s music took a few extra years to catch on, but it’s more visceral and important now than ever. And Zappa’s compositions have been analysed by avant-garde scholars.

The soul of the sixties was the idea that anything was possible. Now, how many of the hippies actually believed that anything was indeed possible is lost to the sands of time. But judging by the reactions that visionaries such as The Stooges and Captain Beefheart drew from the supposedly “enlightened” stands as proof that not all of them did.

Swingin’ times though they were, the psychedelic sixties were not and could not have been what the bloated dinosaurs of yesteryear say they were. But there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be.

Or rather, there’s no reason why the present shouldn’t be the way we think the sixties were.

As the man Costello did ask “what’s so funny about peace, love and understanding?” And indeed what is funny about it? Why shouldnt that still be the dream?

Punk rock tried to kill the hippies, they recognised the hippies for what they were: stoned, bored, middle-class youths who crawled up their own assholes.

But, and here’s what the freaks got right; free love and peace. Sure everyone’s craving that now aren’t they?

In these tumultuous days of Donald and the merging of business and state, we need the freaks. We need the dream.

‘Cause it’s a good dream, as they said in The Boat That Rocked. It’s a pure, innocent to the point of naive, dream. It’s a simple wish.

But just dreaming about it is no good. Wishes don’t just come true. Sitting cross-legged in a bedsit with a joint in hand, acid on your tongue and Jefferson Airplane on the turntable will get us nowhere. Now, stick some Stooges on there, and you’ll at least be sure you’ll grab some attention…

Generations are fictional, as Jeff Chang declared in Cant Stop, Wont Stop, but for our purposes, we’ll go along with it.

We’re a third eye generation, one of many generations who have realised that this world needs a-changin’ and fuck it no-one’s gonna do it but us.

Similar generations have come before, different records soundtracked the risings. With a bit of luck, this one will put it’s money where it’s mouth is and have the brass neck to-just-go-for-it.

And with a lot of luck, our grandkids won’t have to. But we’ll be reasonable. Let’s just hope that maybe their kids will tell them where to go.

They were fortunate in past generations. Whether or not the 60s/70s were as revolutionary at the time as they have come to be regarded as in the present day can remain a topic for debate. But the idea is here, the seed has been planted. And it was planted by musicians.

While the hippie’s complacency and over-reliance on stimulants did lead to some dreadful music. Look at the MC5, Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, The Stones, The Kinks, Velvet Underground, THE F%?@ING BEATLES!

True testaments one and all to what we can achieve. Where the hippies went wrong, is for every one of those groups of four/five, there were ten blissed-out stoners content to wallow in Woodstock’s mud.

So, jumping back to the present, if you look at what’s on the radio or TV, you’ll see some very comfortable music and musicians…

Very easy-listening, very safe, very mellow. There’s no bit of Sympathy For The Devil about them at all.

If we want something as simple as a change in popular tastes, it is necessary to change the population.

But you can’t force a change. You can’t give up the smokes unless you want to. However, at the same time, a body at rest remains at rest until it is met by a force.

So, whether we need to hear the change in the songs before we change some minds, or whether the minds need to change before we hear some decent tunes, is up for debate. Whichever way it swings, I know it will swing.

‘Cause we’ve gone too far this time. The history books will look back on this like they do the Cold War; an insidious time of deceit and scandal.

We’re in the middle of it now, listen to your records and smoke your weed tomorrow. They’ll be there in the morning. But only if we make sure we will be too.

James Fleming

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