They called it the “summer of love.” It happened 50 years ago. One of the main attractions was the migration of young people to San Francisco.
Although there was some measure of organization, much of the flow of that time was spontaneous, with little planning or forethought. It just happened, man.
You can’t stage a movement or choreograph a flow. Either you have it or you don’t. It’s difficult to analyze and impossible to manufacture.
That’s the thing about that summer, and Woodstock in 1969, and other such memorable events. To a large degree they developed a life of their own. The corporate sponsored Woodstock redux of 1999 just didn’t have the same groove.
I had just finished second grade back then. One thing I do recall was the release of the Beatles’ Sergeant Pepper album (no relation the doctor). You had to have been there. The music of that era was surely groundbreaking. Some would say “revolutionary.”
The music would inevitably become the soundtrack of a generation. During that summer, the Jefferson Airplane asked, “Don’t you want somebody to love?” and Jim Morrison and The Doors implored us to “light my fire.”
In a bit of pop philosophy, The Beatles asserted that “all you need is love.” Alas, as the hippies and young people grew up, it proved to be inadequate if not untrue. In three years, The Beatles were no more and Morrison was dead at 27.
That’s the challenge in these modern times. In a desire to recreate what we had back then, some people try to commemorate it as a 40 or 50 year celebration. We go through the motions, drag out the surviving aged members from those bygone days and see if we can recreate the magic.
But it is not the same. It never will be and is not supposed to be. Nostalgia is tricky, a temporary break, not a lifestyle.
Well, it’s true because I just saw it on the internet. Wikipedia says that “during the summer of 2017, San Francisco plans to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love by holding numerous events and art exhibits.” Of course it does.
So if you’re going to San Francisco this summer, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair (if you still have any). And be sure to bring money in your wallet. The times they are a changin’.
Tom Rupp is a resident of Folsom and a weekly columnist in the Folsom Telegraph. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.