Category Archives: Times

The VW T2 Hippie Van

Welcome to the Campervan Channel, the YouTube channel for advice, information, and inspiration for everyone who loves VW campers. This video introduces the biggest selling VW Transporter of them all, the second generation or T2.

This version of the VW Bus was in production in some form, somewhere, for an incredible 46 years. We have other videos with advice on buying them and what they are really like to live with, but for now, I hope you enjoy a bit of backgrounder on the world-beating Bay window. The first generation of Transporter, the T1 Splitty, had been a ground-breaker when it was launched in 1950.

VW went on to sell 1.8 million of them and unexpectedly create a motoring icon. No pressure there then! When the second generation appeared for the model year 1968, some familiar features were still there. The forward-control driving position above the front wheels, a huge cargo space between the axles, and an air-cooled engine in the back powering the rear wheels.

. But the T2 looked different. The distinctive V-shaped front and the split windscreen of the T1 had morphed into a wraparound, panoramic single windscreen, a huge piece of curved glass that gave the new model its nickname, the Bay Window. The Transporter now had a sliding side door as standard. The electrics were 12 volts rather than 6.

And while its flat-four, air-cooled engine was familiar, it was built a little lower, allowing even more cargo space above the engine compartment. Overall the T2 was about 160mm tat is about 6 and a half inches longer than its predecessor, increasing the cargo space inside to about five cubic meters.

Less visible improvements were to do with safety, mainly to appease the Americans who had come up with a radical idea that the occupants of a vehicle should actually survive if it crashed. So, cue front disc brakes, lap belts, shoulder belts, a much safer steering column, and a firewall between the fuel tank and the engine.

Now there is a good idea! And eventually new structures to the front end to improve crash protection. The T2 was obviously part of the Volkswagen family of trucks, but early marketing stressed more to it than your average commercial vehicle. In original Ads, VW proudly claimed, “We’ve put a little beauty into the box.”

And it was “The car that comes in a box.” The car you could squeeze into a parking spot that would be too small for your station wagon. Well, a ginormous American station wagon, at least. The T2 proved even more popular with campervan converters than the splitty had been. One thing got on their wick, though.

The spare wheel. On many versions, it stuck straight up. A right pain in the load space if you wanted to put a bed in the back. Solutions including covering it with a bit psychedelic seventies fabric or building a wooden cabinet over it. Basically, pretending it was not there. But by far, the coolest solution was to pull your spare wheel out of the back and stick it on the front between the headlights.

A spare wheel up front became part of the look for Bay window campers. As with all generations of VW transporter, the T2 went through a ton of tweaks and improvements. Life is too short of mentioning them all, but there were so many between 1971 and 1973. They are the kind of watershed years between two distinct periods.

Bays before then are often called early bays or a T2a. After that, they are Late Bays or T2B. And because I know you want one, here is a spotters guide to telling them apart. An easy clue first. On early Bays, front indicators were down near the bumper, giving them another nickname, “low lights.”

On the late bays, the flashers are high up next to the fresh air intake. Earlies had rounded, wrap-around “blade” type bumpers, incorporating a step to help you get into the cab. Late bays had larger, squared-off “Europa” bumpers that did not wrap around. A structure behind them helped improve crash protection, and the step was now built into the wing.

From the rear, early bays give themselves away by having small, oval-shaped lights. Late bays have much bigger, taller light clusters. So now we can tell them apart. Well, maybe not. Because VW did not decide, right, today we are going to introduce all these new features. No, they did it gradually. So in 1972, you could buy a Bay with basically a new back end and old front end.

Vans built in this kind of T2 Twilight zone are now known as the “Crossover” Bays. So now you know. In 1973, the world was plunged into its first oil crisis. Fuel was in short supply and very expensive. So VW experimented with alternative fuels for the Bay window. Natural gas was dropped before the prototype stage, but electric power showed promise.

In 1972, VW revealed an all-electric T2. Its 44 horsepower Siemens motor took power from an underfloor battery. And what a battery! Each one weighed 850kg. That is more than the VW Beetles being built at the time. It took ten hours to charge and gave the Electric Bay a range of about 43 miles and a top speed of about 43 miles an hour.

Technically, It worked, and concepts like electric taxi versions gained a lot of attention even on live TV. There is conflicting evidence about how many of these were built. But it’s thought to be no more than 200. And many of those were test vehicles. One report said only 20 e-campers were sold.

This amazing innovation was just ahead of its time. It’s only now, 47 years later, that all-electric VW Transporters are on sale again. In the mid-70s, the Bay was also used as a testbed for another leap in-vehicle technology, four-wheel drive. Just a few hand-built all-wheel-drive Transporters were built at Wolfsburg.

Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles have these great archive pictures of these all-wheel-drive beasts being tested. Someone in the VW Research and Development Department had been a keen off-roader and added a four-wheel-drive system to their own T2 campervan. Technically- they were a success. But VW was not convinced there was a market for them.

It was not until the mid-80s that all-wheel-drive finally became an option on the Bay successor, the T3. But let us not leap to successors just yet. The T2 Bay was a truly global phenomenon. They were sold and built around the world. They were sent to at least 15 countries in knock-down kit form. A box full of T2 parts that were assembled in a factory, avoiding high import taxes that would have been charged on a complete vehicle.

In 1971, four years after its launch in Germany, the Bay was built at VW’s plant in Mexico. From 1975, they were built in Brazil too, but these were a bit different. From the front and back, they looked like 1970s Bays. But the side walls were from the old T1 splitty, with smaller windows, air intakes above the rear wheels, and hinged doors from the 1950s.

The result, total confusion about what you are looking at. Sales of Bays boomed worldwide, and much of their popularity and high profile was due to the Hippy Movement. It is just odd that a vehicle that started life as a really practical load carrier for hard-working German business folk became the transport of choice for the most laid-back characters on the planet.

It became known as the Hippy Van, a symbol of peace, love, freedom, rebellion. Production in Germany ended in 1979. But the T2 story was far from over. Brazil did not just keep building them. It developed them, introducing a diesel engine option, for instance. Bays kept rolling out of the Mexican plant, too, with even more radical options including, would you believe it, a water-cooled engine for 1988.

There are no mistaking water-cooled Bays. They have a distinctive. Some would say hideous. Black radiator grille slapped on the front. The Mexican factory shut up shop in 1994, and all T2 production moved to Brazil, where VW finally called time on the air-cooled engine. It is worth pausing for a bit of a tribute here! VW air-cooled engines had powered a staggering 27 million Volkswagens, that is, Beetles and a few other cars as well as the Transporters.

To mark this motoring milestone, VW produced 200 special edition T2s in exclusive sliver metallic paint jobs. Still, the water-cooled versions went on, with a good few finding their way to the UK. Bristol-based campervan converter Danbury imported Brazilian Bays and turned them into water-cooled campers.

Buyers got the look of a classic Bay but with a few more mod-cons than you’92d get in the vintage versions. There was the option of power steering from a Ford Fiesta no less, and of course, the reliability of the 1.4 liter water-cooled power unit derived from the VW Fox. The Bay kept going back in Brazil, with about 25,000 being produced a year until its death knell was sounded by the looming airbag and anti-lock brake legislation.

VW decided the 2013 model year was to be the last. Bear in mind, VW Germany is producing the T5 by this time. So, the old girl finally retired. To celebrate 46 years in production and around 3.9 million Bays sold. A final run of 600 Last Edition models was built in September 2013. These days, all versions of the Bay window remain hugely popular as campervans.

Not quite as expensive as splitties, but with all the character of a true VW classic. With a thriving club scene and good availability of parts and body panels, who knows, these iconic vans could splutter on for another 50 years. Don not forget, we are planning more videos on Bay windows and all other types of VW campervans.

Source Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jETkJOBRPUA

Psychedelia – The Bad Trip

In the previous chapter, we saw how some Hippies abandoned the idea that the revolution should be carried out in the realms of the mind, and went over to play in the political field. We saw also how this shift made them devolve into adopting Marxist thought, and from there into violence and terrorism.

It should however be reiterated that most of the people discussed in the previous chapter were not Hippies, and did not emerge from the spirit of rock’n’roll, even if they idolized the rock star and saw them as their role models. Most Hippies stayed true to the idea of revolution of the mind, and kept on seeking enlightenment through drugs, music and mysticism.

But here, too, things were devolving fast. The possibility that a trip could be bad has always been known. It featured in some early psychedelic records as well. In the Beatles track ‘She Said, She Said’, John Lennon tells us what happens when your preparation for the trip is bad. The inspiration came from a time when actor Peter Fonda came by to visit him.

Lennon just dropped acid, getting ready for a groovy trip, but Fonda just had to tell him about a near death experience he had during surgery. This was not what Lennon needed to hear as his mind was getting into the psychedelic twirl, and he told Peter to go to hell, but it was too late. The result was this record, which has an important insight about the nature of hallucinogenic drugs: while they can generate a joyful experience, making you feel like you are at the heart of your existence, so can they generate a terrifying experience, making you feel like you don’t exist at all, making you lose your sense of self.

And the more the sixties neared their end, the more the euphoric feeling of happy existence got replaced with the existential dread that Lennon expresses here. At the end of 1967, with the sunlight beams of the Summer of Love still dancing in the background, Lennon once again provided a different type of psychedelic experience.

In ‘I am the Walrus’, Lennon takes the stance of someone who knows best, and mocks all those who can’t understand him. We’ve met this attitude in Beatles records before, but here it is being deconstructed. At the same time that he mocks others, it seems that his own consciousness is falling apart, alternating wildly like a radio needle that is out of control, hearing voices, and once again imagining itself to be dead.

Instead of the confident man we met in ‘Rain’, here it feels like we are dealing with a schizophrenic. In the beginning of 68, the Beatles travelled to Rishikesh, in India, and stayed there for a month as guests of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who taught them his technique of transcendental meditation.

They also wrote many songs there, which ended up on the double white album that they released at the end of that year. Meditation, said Lennon at the time, is a way to get what the psychedelic drugs give you, while avoiding the dangers of the drugs. But Lennon was disappointed and disillusioned by what he experienced in Rishikesh, and some of the white album tracks give expression to this feeling.

‘The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill’ is a satirical song about an American who was there with them, learning from the Maharishi, but in the middle he took a break to go hunting tigers in the jungle, and then came back to continue his studies of a philosophy that preaches non-violence towards any living being.

‘Dear Prudence’ was inspired by one of the women in the group, who suffered a panic attack after meditation, and it took them hours to persuade her to get out of her room. But Lennon reserved the most venomous song for the Maharishi himself, after he heard a rumor that he sexually assaulted the actress Mia Farrow, who was there with them.

Lennon wrote a song that incriminated the Maharishi and accused him of being a fraud, but to avoid legal issues he changed the lyrics, and made it a song about a movie starlet who fools the world into falling in love with her. Luckily so, because the rumor was probably false. But the track ‘Sexy Sadie’ preserves the feeling of bitter disillusionment, and can be heard as a representative of the late sixties spirit.

The white album, officially called simply ‘The Beatles’, also contains Lennon’s parting shot from psychedelia. ‘Glass Onion’ references some of the Beatles psychedelic era records, emphasizes the sense of confusion and detachment from reality expressed in them, and throws them all into a psychedelic cauldron to make something even more confusing.

In the previous records, the confusion was just a side-effect, and the prevailing feeling was that of self-confidence, but here Lennon reinterprets them, and asserts that it was all an illusion. Psychedelia didn’t make reality more transparent, but rather into a glass onion, something that looks clear and transparent, but is actually multilayered and curvilinear.

This is the only track on the album where you still hear the psychedelic sound. Most other tracks provided by Lennon convey a feeling of loneliness and depression. Following the descent from the peaks of the Summer of Love into the hate drenched reality of 1968, and after meditation did not live up to its promises, Lennon feels lost.

In this mental state, drugs were no longer the way to get from an ordinary existence to a joyful existence, but to escape a depressing experience into oblivion. For that, other drugs are more suitable, but also demand a higher price. By 1969, Lennon was addicted to heroin, like many others in the counter-culture.

Many lost their lives as a result, but Lennon managed to gather himself in time and kick the habit, doing it cold turkey. The hell that he went through in order to do it, a hell that many went through at the time, was immortalized in this record. Heroin is a drug for people who experience life as suffering and want to escape it.

It makes you forget all your worries and sorrows, neutralizes all urges and ambitions. This is not what the Hippies were after, and heroin was a drug that they ideologically rejected. But there was one rock band at the time which made heroin and other hard drugs part of its art, and gave us a window into this world.

The songs that Lou Reed wrote for the Velvet Underground were filled with characters that hated their existence and wanted out, and the band turned every song into a little theatre play that dramatized the escape. Some of these records were about drugs. “I have made a big decision”, announces the junky in this record, “I’m gonna try to nullify my life.

” The temptation to turn to nothing, to dissolve into the euphoria of the drug, is what we hear in this classic track. The Hippies were perturbed by the Velvet Underground’s music. At the basis of their way of life was a strong conviction in the power of the human soul, a confidence that the drugs will purify it only from what is unessential, and will leave the essential core.

The Velvet Underground’s music suggested that there is no pure core, that the only thing awaiting at the end of the road is complete self-annihilation, and enslavement to the drug. This is not what the Hippies wanted to hear, and since they were now the dominant force in the rock world, the Velvet Underground was marginalized, remaining underground for the next decade, but constantly undermining Hippie optimism.

But there were also many Hippies who lost themselves to hard drugs, either because they wanted to escape the harsh reality of the late sixties, or because they took the sex-drugs-rock’n’roll ideology too far. The belief that the dominant culture is evil and only wants to prevent us from having fun, along with the belief that drugs are the road to salvation, led many youngsters to the thought that the warnings about heroin are just a fabrication.

From there, the road to hell was open. That’s not to say that only heroin is bad, and only heroin had a destructive effect. The hallucinogenic drugs did a lot of damage as well. Let’s let the Pink Floyd tell us about it. The record ‘Astronomy Domine’ is another psychedelic space trip, under the guidance of our captain, Syd Barrett.

When the record starts we are already in the spaceship, travelling among the planets, and a voice over the communication system is informing us of our location. But rather than helping us, the voice only disorients us – actually, there are two voices here, each providing different information, and together they form an unintelligible mix.

When the singing begins, we encounter the familiar themes of floating and acquiring a different view of reality, but it sounds more scared than euphoric. Nevertheless, there is a sense of progress, as we are gradually getting further away from Earth, going through Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, but then we retreat back to Titan, a Jupiter moon, and are frightened of the stars.

Then again, Oberon, Miranda and Titania, mentioned as the Uranus moons we pass by, are also Shakespearean characters, from two plays that exist between reality and fantasy. In both plays, there is a scene in which people fall under a spell, either from a potion or from beguiling music, which makes them not see reality as it is and leads them to unwelcomed results.

Smack in the middle of the Summer of Love, then, the Floyd already warn us that the psychedelic trip, which is supposed to show us the truth, might be just an illusion. The spaceship then goes into warp speed, growing increasingly out of control. The voice over the com system returns, once again spewing urgent but meaningless information.

When the singing resumes it sounds more like a series of onomatopoeic explosions, with words that express paranoia. Finally, the music slows down, and it seems like we are landing back in reality, but we are still trapped in the mental state we’ve put ourselves into, and who knows if we can ever escape it.

Barrett was the central figure of the British psychedelic scene, and did everything to be worthy of his crown. That meant that he remained switched on at all hours of the day, ingesting copious amounts of LSD pills. In chapter 7 we witnessed the switch he made from a stylish Mod into a disheveled Hippie, who cares only about what’s inside the mind.

But soon enough, the drugs ate his brain to an extent that there wasn’t much left inside. The handsome and talented young man became a total wreck, and his eyes, which always sparkled with an impish twinkle, became black holes in the sky, as Pink Floyd would sing years later. In the record ‘Vegetable Man’, Barrett comes full circle and once again sings about his external look, and he claims that his stinking rags are an expression of what’s left of his soul.

Actually, they are all that’s left of him. He became a soulless creature, a vegetable man. No less disturbing is this record, in which it sounds like Barrett’s personal hell is screaming in our ears in a variety of scary voices. These two amazing records were so perturbing that Pink Floyd decided not to release them, and they saw light only years later.

Barrett made a modest contribution to the band’s second album, but in the beginning of 1968 it was obvious that he was gone, and he was cut from the band. In the next few years his condition went from bad to worse, and he retreated into a shadow world. He tried to develop a solo career, and released several albums full of weird tracks, sung in a bent way that never remained faithful to any tempo.

Eventually he went back to his hometown and lived with his family as a welfare case. He never regained full sanity. While Barrett was sinking slowly, several other heroes of the psychedelic era fell in a more dramatic fashion. We’ve mentioned Brian Jones, the man who founded the Rolling Stones, and also the man who pulled it towards psychedelia, until his drug addiction got him kicked out of the band.

Jones tried to rehabilitate, but in July 69 he was found floating dead in his swimming pool, a death that remains shrouded in mystery to this day. A year later, three blows landed one after the other. In September of 1970, Jimi Hendrix took a large dose of sedatives, threw up in his sleep and choked to death on his own vomit.

Less than a month later, following a period of self-destruction, Janis Joplin was found dead in her hotel room, of a mixture of alcohol and heroin. And in July 71, bloated from alcohol and drugs, Jim Morrison went the same way. This is where the way of life of sex, drugs and rock’n’roll ended up.

Nothing manifests the shattering of the Hippie dream better than the four great rock festival movies of the late sixties. First, the Monterey Pop Festival of June 67, which was, as we recall, the first rock’n’roll festival in history, the first time when musicians from all over the world gathered to celebrate the new generation of popular music.

The beginning of the movie shows us that apart from that, it was a regular entertainment show, in which the audience paid for admittance and sat in rows of chairs, while the police was running things – back then there wasn’t yet talk of the counter-culture, of an alternative way to run a show.

At least not anywhere outside of Haight-Ashbury. But once we are done with this procedural stuff, the movie takes us into a magical place, a historic joy capsule that transpires in our ears and in our eyes. We hear folk-rock, acid-rock, British rhythm ‘n blues, soul, jazz, and classical Indian music, all coming together to create a new musical kaleidoscope, around which a new culture is being formed.

We see all the festival patrons still dressed in the dapper Mod style of the mid-sixties, but already affected by the psychedelic rainbow colors, with everyone trying to add something original of their own. Throughout the movie we see people smiling and having a good time, and when the music begins, we see them melt with pleasure with the lovely harmonies of the Mamas and the Papas and Simon & Garfunkel, sent to ecstatic heights with the mighty soul of Otis Redding, staring agape at the breakthrough performances of Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix, and going into trance with the enchanting sitar sounds of Ravi Shankar.

You can even see the artists themselves mingle with the crowd, and enjoying the performances of their peers. I don’t know of any documentary that has the same feeling. Two years later, in August 69, came the Woodstock festival. This wasn’t in the warm Sun of California, but in the rain and mud of New York, but that did not deter hundreds of thousands of youngsters from flocking to the place, to take part in a three day festival of sound.

Unlike Monterey, which was organized by a professional producer, here the organizers were young Hippies, and when they realized that the attendance is much larger than the number of tickets, they decided to go all out and announced that the admittance is free. The financial loss was massive, but it was worth it for the experience.

The counter-culture got mobilized to help make it work, and the Hippie communes provided food and other services. Here is where the Woodstock myth was born, the myth of a utopian society in which hundreds of thousands of young people can coexist in fraternity and cooperation, and live on constant high from listening to great music.

The movie shows it very well, shows a society in which everyone contributes to the whole. “We’re all feeding each other! We must be in Heaven, man!” exults one of the speakers on stage. But when the cameras pan out a little, the illusion is revealed. The festival attendants may have felt that they are making it on their own without the authorities, but the authorities were actually involved all the way, and if it wasn’t for the massive help that they provided in food, sanitation and healthcare, the event might have been a large scale disaster.

Musically, we see that rock music now became the sea that all musical rivers meet in. All of the sixties musical styles are represented, but they all now express themselves through the flexible sound of electric guitars. There is still a feeling that the rock nation is united and all styles are in dialogue with each other and feed each other, and there’s also still a lot of Hippie idealism.

The music is fantastic, but the bad vibrations of the last year and a half can already be felt. Here’s Jimi Hendrix performing the Star Spangled Banner, incorporating air raids, anguished screams and funeral music, and perfectly capturing the ambivalent feelings that the American youth had towards their country at the time.

But the myth of Woodstock as a symbol for a new utopian world, for getting ourselves back to the garden, as Joni Mitchell sang, took hold, and became an ideal that every other rock festival would be judged by. The Rolling Stones, who didn’t perform at Woodstock, wanted to be part of that myth as well.

A few months later they started a tour of the States, and announced that they will end it with a free concert in San Francisco. The ambition was to organize a concert based entirely on the means of the counter-culture, with no dependence on the authorities. The movie shows them trying to arrange the concert, which turned out to be a much harder undertaking than they thought.

Once again, the counter-culture mobilized to help, and the local acid-rock bands confirmed their participation, but they still needed to find a place big enough and willing to host the event, not an easy endeavor when you can’t offer the possibility of financial gain. Finally they rented a race track in Altamont, which wasn’t exactly suited for a rock concert, and for security the hired the Hell’s Angels, the biker gang that was considered, as we recall, part of the counter-culture.

We mentioned that the Angels enjoyed taking part in the Hippie love-ins and partake in all the sex and drugs, so they generally behaved themselves, a fact that enabled the counter-culture to ignore their violent side. But hiring them to be in charge of security was asking for trouble, and trouble didn’t fail to arrive.

The movie is called ‘Gimme Shelter’, and it begins with the same sights we’ve seen in the Monterey and Woodstock movies: multitudes of youngsters, dressed in freaky outfits, flocking to Altamont, expecting an unforgettable night. But when the music begins, so do the troubles. As the Jefferson Airplane are playing, the crowd starts to get rowdy, as usual in rock concerts.

Professional security guards would show tolerance, but the Hell’s Angels handle it the only way they knew: with brutal force. The crowd, in large parts tripping on hard drugs, reciprocates in kind, and the situation escalates. Once the Stones take the stage, playing their wild satanic music, all hell breaks loose.

Jagger stops the music several times and tries to put things back in order, reciting the Hippie slogans about peace and love that by then already sounded corny, but his words fall on deaf ears – once the music starts again, so does the violence. Things come to a head when a young man, standing just meters away from the stage, draws a gun and aims it at the Angels, and they immediately pounce on him and stab him to death.

Many other youngsters came out battered and bruised from the event, which, as we recall, was supposed to “create a microcosmic society which sets example to the rest of America as to how one can behave in nice gatherings”. This happened in December 1969, in the same month that the Manson Family took the headlines, and the combined effect of Manson and Altamont terminally destroyed the Hippie pretensions to present an alternative world of peace and love.

Britain had its own rock festival, an annual summer event held since 1968 in the Isle of Wight, organized by a company run by three young brothers. The brothers were driven by a true passion for the music and the values of the youth culture, and in the first couple of years it was a modest event, but after Woodstock, they were inspired to try to arrange a similar event for the British youth.

For the 1970 event, they announced that this time the festival will be a large scale gathering, lasting five days, and serving as a role model for a self-sustaining society. They fenced a large area in the island, booked more than fifty artists, and with much love and care they managed to overcome the complicated logistical problems.

And the youth did indeed show up en masse, coming from Britain, America and Europe, in numbers that were estimated to surpass even Woodstock. But this youth was also driven by the myth of Woodstock, and many refused to cough up the nominal sum that they were asked to pay for a ticket, which was particularly ridiculous considering the amount of money they had to pay to get to the event.

Maintaining the ideal of a free festival was more important to them than compensating the organizers, and not let them go broke. Instead, they stood outside and started banging on the fence, demanding free admittance. The movie shows how the slogans of the counter-culture, that were supposed to represent enlightened values, are twisted and used to justify the most selfish and barbaric behavior.

The artists try to sing above the ruckus, but the bad vibrations spread to every corner of the venue, and affect them as well. Several of them look sullied from too many drugs, and no one is willing to give up part of their pay to help the organizers. There is still a lot of good music, but we already see the rock nation splintering into many styles – heavy metal, progressive rock, fusion, singer-songwriter, country-rock and more – with not much uniting them.

Eventually, the organizers decide to open the gates and let everyone enter for free, and one of them announces it from the stage and speaks in the utopian rhetoric taken from Woodstock, but there are tears in his eyes. Only three years have gone by since Monterey, but that spirit was dead. But the most symbolic thing that happened in 1970 was the collapse of the band that epitomized the sixties, the band that was the heart of youth culture.

In 1968 this heart began to break, because the bundle called the Beatles could no longer contain the personality differences between its four members, and every one of them began to pull in his own direction, and work on projects outside the band. After they completed the white album, they tried to find a way to renew the fun, and thought that maybe it’s time to get back to some live playing.

Their next project, called ‘Let it Be’, was supposed to be based on recordings that will make no use of studio technology, to recapture the spontaneous feeling of their early days. They also hired a film crew to document the process, and the resulting movie shows that there were indeed moments of fun, but also moments when the tensions bubbled up to the surface.

To end it, they decided to try to do a live performance, something they haven’t done in more than two years, and they ascended to the roof of the studio to throw a surprise concert. And so, on the 30th of January, 1969, the Beatles gave what turned out to be their last performance. It was a brilliant idea, which did bring back the spontaneous thrill of their music, and the movie shows the crowds slowly gathering, looking at the wonder happening above their heads.

But after half an hour, the police stop the concert, for disturbing the public order. A glum ending to the performing career of the greatest band of all. The final song in the performance also reflects the changing mood. ‘Get Back’ was written in response to growing xenophobic emotions in Britain, following the arrival of waves of immigrants.

The dream of a new world that will overcome the racism of the past crashed against the rocks of reality, and Paul McCartney wrote the song from the point of view of a person demanding from the immigrants to get back to where they came from, to satirize such people. But the Beatles were afraid that the irony will be lost on the public, and the lyrics were changed to something rather prosaic.

True, this self-censorship characterized the Beatles from the start, but in the early years it made their records more sophisticated, with their hidden meanings smiling behind the innocent mask. In 1969, the ugly events transpiring around them meant that the subjects of their songs were so harsh that in order to maintain innocence, they had to emasculate their records to the point of banality.

The original spirit of the band could no longer exist in the reality of the time. The next Beatles project was the album Abbey Road, for which they once again closed themselves in the studio. But not together. Most of the parts were recorded by every member on his own, and later put together. They are hardly a band here, but four individuals with not much connecting between them.

The only track that somewhat preserves the feeling of togetherness is ‘Because’, with its vocal harmonies. The lyrics are full of puns which turn natural phenomena into feelings, once again creating a sense of unity between Man and nature. But the atmosphere is melancholy – the melody is actually Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata played backwards, and the effect is just as sad.

The last verse – “because the sky is blue, it makes me cry” – pretty much sums up the mood. The music of the Beatles represents pure unadulterated joy, the happiness of everyday life when you’re having fun in your existence. But the late sixties were no fun, and gave them no happy things to sing about.

Without this joy to hold them together, the inner tensions and frictions within the band surfaced. From a group that was once four lads united against the world, they became separate individuals who conversed with each other through lawyers. Once this happened, things just went uglier and uglier. And, as it was throughout the decade, what happened to the Beatles was reflective of the culture around them.

The counter-culture was falling apart, losing the joy of life and sense of purpose that held it together. It used to be about liberation, about expanding your horizons, about achieving harmony, about creating a better world. The entire Hippie identity was constructed around these ambitions. But now, these ambitions lay in tatters, and the identity was in a lost state.

Without this inner core, most of it didn’t make sense anymore. And for the Beatles to remain true to themselves, this left only one viable option. On the last day of 1970, after a bitter fallout, they announced that they are disbanding. The dream was over.

Source Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Rpn0iE0Bik

The Counter-Culture

Here’s a YouTube video that does a great job explaining the start of the hippies.  The author shows his philosophical roots in his screen name “Zarathustra’s Serpent”.


So, we are in the thick of the psychedelic age. Until now, we’ve seen youth culture developing within itself, focused on finding new highs, not really paying attention to the world around it. But in the beginning of 1967, came a song that calls the kids to stop and look around, and ask what can be changed.

The name of the record – ‘For What it’s Worth’ – shows that the creators didn’t think that it could change much, and didn’t believe it will make the youth take a political stance. But the wind began to change direction that year, and youth culture started to pose its truth in opposition to the truisms of the dominant culture, and demand change.

Before we describe the new values that were mined out of the spirit of psychedelia, we shall do a quick summary of the old dogmas they went against. After world war two, the US and the UK, the two great winners, turned inside, to deal with their inner problems. Having defeated the Nazi evil, the two nations believed that the same heroic spirit that drove them during the war will be able to defeat all the evils that dwell within them, and fix all the old wrongs.

A spirit of unity lay upon these two societies, and the keyword was “consensus”: the old political divisions were settled, and almost everyone got behind the overall policy. In economy, for instance, the American right agreed that the socialist reforms enacted by President Roosevelt brought prosperity, and accepted a welfare policy that combined free market with socialism.

The left also agreed that the revolutionary Marxist way has failed, creating only communist dictatorships that brought mostly suffering to their citizens, and supported the welfare policy that was aimed at bringing a gradual improvement for the lower classes. In Britain, the end of the war saw the rise of a labor government that enacted an uncompromising socialist policy, but when it turned out that this policy fails to get the country out of the age of austerity, it lost its favor with the people, and capitalist elements started to creep back in.

Part of this welfare state approach was also the belief that everyone should have leisure time, resulting in a consumer society that demanded more and more leisure products, which made daily life more comfortable and diverse, and also fueled the wheels of the industry. By the mid-1950s, both countries started to enjoy economic prosperity, the social gaps were narrowing, and they seemed to be marching towards a future where there would be freedom, equality and affluence for all.

A similar consensus was reached around the perception of human nature. Traditionally, the prevailing puritan consciousness regarded human nature as sinful, and believed that only strict repression of instincts and strong discipline can create a functioning human society. The liberals, on the other hand, believed that the nature of Man is good, and it is only the crooked structure of society that makes him go bad.

However, the atrocious things that humans did to each other during the war compelled the liberals to rethink their position, and the leading liberal approach now was that Man can be good, but for that he still needs to mature, and rid himself of the remains of the jungle animal that he once was. Therefore, we must keep on studying Man, and look for ways to improve.

The social sciences were now held in higher repute, and the theories put forth by psychologists, sociologists and anthropologists were implemented by the system, trying to shape Man in a better way. The conservative puritans, meanwhile, did not believe that you can shape Man to be good, but they did join the game and used this pervasive system to impose their strict codes, especially on sexuality.

A similar atmosphere prevailed in Britain, where Victorian values still held sway. This power given to the government, and the tight social control it enacted, were opposed to the American spirit, traditionally based on individualism, pioneering and suspicion towards authority. To overcome this resistance, patriotism was trumpeted, and everyone was called upon to pull together to create a strong society, which will overcome both homegrown problems and the external communist threat.

Individualism was still regarded as a good thing, but only within an acceptable frame, and everyone was supposed to conform and become useful citizens. Anyone who didn’t conform was seen as suffering from a mental problem and was sent to psychiatric institutes, which we’ve already mentioned in previous chapters.

But while individual exceptionality was still seen as basically a good thing, tribal exceptionality was completely unacceptable, seen as negating the social ideal. The aim was to eradicate all tribal differences and create a universal society, and anyone who wasn’t on board was hounded and excluded.

This atmosphere led to everyone adopting a unified look, with the men sporting short military haircuts and wearing suits like useful citizens, and the women following the prevailing fashion, which was always very feminine but not too sexy. In the process, a new balance was established between men and women.

The perception was that the man is selfish and driven by his instincts, mainly his sex drive, whereas the woman is a social creature and practically devoid of sexuality. Therefore, to establish the universal society, the woman is the one who should be in charge, through the rearing of the coming generations.

During the war years, many women went out to work and started to think in terms of career, but now the prevailing mindset encouraged them to go back home, and take a role that was portrayed as more important, the role of a housewife that is in charge of the children’s upbringing. The housewife now got a lot of attention, and was given instructions on how to best do her job, while the industry created products aimed to make her life easier.

The youth, too, was given a lot of attention, and the system made a lot of effort to create all the terms needed for it to grow up right, and become the generation that will take us forward towards the perfect society. This was the first generation of youth that had its own money to spend, and the industry created the term teenager to define this new market, with products aimed directly at it.

But for the teenagers, all of this was quite confusing and contained some sharp contradictions. On the one hand they had money to go out and have a good time, but on the other hand they were under stern puritanical supervision. On the one hand they were taught to work for a better future, but on the other hand they were born into the nuclear age and a cold war, which created the feeling that the world has no future.

On the one hand they were taught to overcome racism and regard all people as equal, but on the other hand the idea of getting out of the jungle has caused blacks, that were perceived as representing jungle culture, to be portrayed as inferior people. Since it didn’t live through the bloody struggles of the previous decades, the youth didn’t appreciate the merits of compromise and conformity, and perceived the previous generations as fake and hypocritical.

When rock’n’roll arrived in the mid-fifties, it answered all these problems, providing elation and sexual ecstasy in the here and now, and unifying all youth, blacks and whites, boys and girls, rich and poor, in one movement. Thus, the youth detached from the role ordained for it, the role of creating the perfect society, and instead developed its own culture through rock’n’roll.

From here on it was the teenagers that dictated to the industry what products it should create for them: rock’n’roll records, electric guitars, surfboards, motorbikes, hair gel, cool outfits, etc. In the previous chapters, I described the formation of this generational gap, which generated a youth culture with different intuitions from those of the previous generations.

I pointed out the intuitive revolution that I consider to be the most crucial: the fact that previous generations still thought in terms of eliminating suffering as the highest goal, whereas the new generation, for which suffering was not a major part of life, was no longer willing to settle on that, but was more focused on the pursuit of happiness.

The youth didn’t want non-suffering, it wanted elation. I’ve discussed the other revolutions that resulted from that: the preference of performance over writing, the emphasis on immediate experiences over future goals, the gathering in tribal subcultures over the attempt to create a universal society.

We’ve also seen that the previous generations didn’t realize what was happening, and thought that they were dealing with moral and social degeneracy. But I am looking at it from the vantage point of half a century later, a distance that helps me understand the root of the conflict, interpret the new intuitions and see the logic behind them.

The youth back then didn’t have the ability to do so, and so they couldn’t respond to their parents berating them for their bad musical taste and moral degeneracy – all they knew was that rock’n’roll speaks to something inside of them, and feels a lot more real than the values society was trying to instill in them.

The great rock’n’roll songwriters, like Chuck Berry, Carl Perkins and Eddie Cochran, wrote songs that expressed the feeling that this is rock’n’roll and it’s ours, the grownups can’t understand it and we don’t know how to explain it ourselves, but we know it makes us feel better than anything else the world has to offer.

There was no one to decipher these intuitions, to articulate them in a way that would be understood by others, and the rock’n’roll kids just kept on living by them without trying to create a worldview to ground them in. And then came Bob Dylan. Bob Dylan gave the youth the vindication it was looking for.

In his contact with the adult world, that world that always dismissed youth culture, he retaliated by exposing their cluelessness. He was preceded in that by the Beatles, especially the sarcastic John Lennon, who in their media interviews were always pranking their interviewers and showing how out of touch they were.

But Dylan gave the impression that the grownups are not just out of touch when it came to dealing with the pop world, but that they are altogether belonging to a generation whose time has passed. In his records, he found ways to merge rock’n’roll with poetry and theatre and with the legacy of the Western spirit, and made the youth feel like his lyrics harbor secrets that can lead us to the truth.

This idolization of Dylan went too far, but it is hard to overstate his importance as an artist. He was the one who endowed the other rock’n’roll artists with the feeling that they had something to say, and encouraged them to try to understand the intuitions at the basis of their culture. Under his influence, many rock’n’rollers began writing songs that tried to express in words what the music was telling them, and started a conversation through which youth culture would develop a new worldview.

In the record ‘Ballad of a Thin Man’, Dylan mocks those scholars who think that they have a top-down view on youth culture, and that they are capable of understanding it. Mr. Jones is an archetype of such a scholar, who comes armed with his outdated academic theories and tries to implement them to understand the sixties youth, but actually he has no idea what he is talking about.

Dylan, as we recall, started out as part of the folk movement, which was another musical movement that rebelled against the fifties consensus. But folk kept on playing the old game of capitalism vs. Marxism, and its gripe with the status quo was that the progress is too slow. Dylan got out of this old equation and connected to the fresh intuitions of the rock’n’roll youth, but also maintained the broader look of folk, its social criticism.

And the rock’n’roll bands that were influenced by him started also, in the second half of the sixties, to look around. Psychedelia gave the youth the belief that it really had something new and important to say. Through it, it began exploring the mind, and realized that it is dominated by certain beliefs which make their holder experience the world in a certain way, whereas a changing of perception makes him experience the world differently.

This was the origin of the sixties saying: “it’s all in the mind”. While the Marxist folkies believed that only a change in the social structure would bring a better world, the Hippies believed that the road to happiness is to be achieved through changing one’s consciousness, liberating it from old beliefs, and pointing it towards a joyful existence.

The first Beatles record that can be defined as psychedelic is ‘Rain’, which came out in May 1966. In the record, Lennon is mocking the people who run and hide when rain begins to fall, only to emerge when the Sun comes out. Rain and shine, he says, are just a state of mind. What Lennon says is that our tendency to hide from the rain is something that has been instilled in us, and has no basis.

A man with a liberated mind can enjoy existence whether it rains or shines. McCartney had something else to say about rain. In ‘Fixing a Hole’, a track on the Sgt. Pepper album, he tells us that he built a place of his own a filled all the cracks that let the rain in, and distracted his mind from wondering freely.

But here too we find dismay at other people, those who keep running around and play the roles that society ordained for them, instead of joining him in the life of reflection and mind liberation. Then again, he doesn’t claim superiority over them. He is happy in his world, but can’t say for sure if he is wrong or right, if he is truly living the best type of existence.

All he knows is that “where I belong, I’m right” – in his private world, he is doing what’s best for him, and feels happy. And that’s good enough for him. But a few months later, in the ‘Magical Mystery Tour’ project, we already find a different insight, a different approach.

In ‘The Fool on the Hill’, McCartney once again tells us about a recluse who lives in his own world, secluded from society. Everyone laughs at him and think he is a fool, but the fool on the hill sees the Sun going down, and the eyes in his head see the world spinning round. The fool is compared to Galileo, who like everyone else saw the Sun setting, but with the eyes in his head, i.

e. with his mind, understood that it is actually the world that is spinning. This is no longer the subjective stance that we saw in ‘Fixing a Hole’. Here, he believes that his truth is objective, and true for everyone. Okay, this is after all just a song, and there’s no basis to think that the Beatles believed that they are holding the absolute truth.

But this path I described here, where someone’s private joyful experience eventually gets him to believe that he found the truth that will bring joy to everyone, is something that happened many times throughout history. And among the Hippies as well, there were many who believed that they found the key to happiness, and must now bring the gospel to the rest of humankind.

What causes people to make this transition? The answer is that this is a prejudice that is embedded deep in Western culture – and Eastern culture, for that matter. There is a deep-seated belief that in order to be happy, Man must find the truth at the basis of existence, and this truth is eternal and universal, true to every human in any time and place.

Because of this traditional view, truth and happiness are connected to each other in our consciousness, and as a result, when a person encounters something that makes them feel extreme happiness, they are driven to believe that they have found the eternal truth. We met this line of thinking before. For instance, we saw how Timothy Leary argues that our mind is captivated by all sorts of games that have been imposed on it, but the psychedelic experience frees it from all these games, and makes it dwell in the realm of truth.

How does Leary know that what he experienced is indeed the truth? Does he have any proof of that? Actually, he has only one piece of evidence, and that is the fact that he felt intense joy during the psychedelic experience. But that one piece of evidence was enough for him. Leary, who presumed to have freed himself of all games, was actually still caught in one of the oldest games of all, the game that determines that to be happy you must hold the truth, and that is what made him interpret the joy of the psychedelic experience as stemming from finding the truth.

In the same way, we saw how Ken Kesey builds an entire picture of the universe based on the psychedelic experience, out of the belief that this experience opened up a window for him to see the truth. Actually, this belief has no grounds. No one ensures us that truth will bring happiness, or that happiness indicates that we’ve found the truth.

But these people have a problem. These joyful experiences that they have are only temporary, and eventually they fall back to the ground. How can they explain it, if truth is supposed to be eternal? The regular answer is that what they’ve experience isn’t the whole truth, but only part of it. In other words, the experience gives us a taste of Heaven, but our existence remains mostly in our fallen world.

And so, those who went through the experience believe that they have to dive deeper into it, find what’s behind it, and once they do, they will be able to make it permanent and remain in paradise forever. In ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds’, John Lennon describes a psychedelic experience during which he finds himself in a wondrous world, where he chases a divine and sparkling girl named Lucy, believing that if he catches her his world will be complete.

The psychedelic experience itself is no longer enough – now we also want to find what’s behind it. Again, this belief doesn’t have a leg to stand on. No one has ever managed to show that there is something beyond those temporary joyful experiences, or that there is a way to make them permanent.

But this prejudice is implanted so deep in our consciousness, that it directs our actions. And so, the youth began looking for the truth behind the psychedelic experience, with the hope of making it permanent. Many believed that Eastern thought was already enlightened to this experience, and could contain the answers that they were looking for.

The Beatles, for instance, traveled to India at the end of 1967, and spent a few weeks with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who popularized the transcendental meditation technique, said to give you the psychedelic experience without drugs. Others looked for it in other mystical creeds. Youth culture, as we recall, started out rebelling against the idea that we need to work towards a perfect future, and believed that we should live for today, create ecstatic experiences in the here and now.

But at the end of 67, it started to fall back into the old game, into the belief that we must aspire to find the eternal truth and create a world based on it. Then again, truth for them was no longer based on gradual progress out of the jungle towards an enlightened society. They looked for more immediate ways to achieve salvation.

The way, as mentioned, was through changing your consciousness. The social consensus that prevailed in the fifties was based on compromise, on people conforming to the will of the collective. The Hippies claimed that there was no need to compromise: once we liberate our mind we realize that there is natural harmony between us, and then we can all both live according to our nature and dwell in a harmonic society.

Rock festivals, from Monterey onwards, were purported as microcosms of such a society. This culminated in the Woodstock Festival, in the summer of 69, when hundreds of thousands of youngsters spent three days together, in a world based on music and love and not on tribalism and hostility. The festival inspired Joni Mitchell to write this song.

“We are stardust, billion year old carbon,” she sings, adopting a materialistic view. But then she continues “we are golden, caught in the devil’s bargain”, switching to Christian rhetoric. “And we’ve got to get ourselves, back to the garden”. What garden? Why, the Garden of Eden, of course.

This mixing of secular and religious imagery, typical of the Hippies, shows what they were after: they wanted to go back to paradise, and they believed that paradise is not in the afterlife, but can be achieved in this world. “Peace and Love” became the slogan, from the Summer of Love onwards.

The youth felt itself as expressing true fraternity, in opposition to the adults who are busy having wars with each other. The cold war between capitalism and communism seemed silly to this youth, that rejected the ideology at the basis of both of them. This cold war had a very hot manifestation at the time: the US was busy fighting the communists in Vietnam, and conscription was imposed to fill in the ranks, compelling all young Americans to go fight this war.

Until 68, only folk artists raised their voice against the war, and rock’n’roll ignored the issue. But that all changed when the Hippies started to preach the peace and love gospel. Here is Country Joe, the folk singer turned Hippie, singing a satirical song that mocks his fellow Americans who go to die without asking why.

But unlike the protest movement which the folkies and other lefties were part of, the Hippies had another idea of how to bring peace. They didn’t believe in politics, they believed in changing consciousness. The Hippies believed that through music, and through spreading their lifestyle, they can change the world, and that protests are part of the old game, based on negativity and hate.

The man who manifested this view most of all was John Lennon. Lennon, in 1968, began his relationship with Yoko Ono, which will eventually lead to their marriage. Ono was a Japanese artist who belonged the Fluxus movement, an avant-Garde movement that believed, among other things, that art should be taken out of the museums and on to the streets, so it can become part of everyday life and change the culture.

But the artists who belonged to this movement soon found out, to their chagrin, that the problem with the traditional artistic medium isn’t just that they are trapped in museums and concert halls – the problem is that they lost touch with the public, because they speak a language that the masses no longer understand.

This is the same feeling that Ken Kesey had about literature, which made him abandon it and turn to rock music and moviemaking instead. These artists, despite their efforts, didn’t leave much of an impression, and failed to reach the general public – except, of course, Yoko Ono, who was accompanied by a man who was constantly under the public eye.

Influenced by Yoko, Lennon began thinking in terms of turning his life into an ongoing artistic performance, utilizing the fact that the cameras were always on him to create meaningful artistic events. Everything the couple did was aestheticized, and their message to the world was that if a British pop star and a Japanese avant-Garde artist can fall in love, there’s no reason that the world won’t be able to overcome its divisions.

When they got married, they decided to turn their honeymoon into an event which they called ‘Bed-in’, in which they spent two weeks in bed in different hotel suites and invited people to come have a dialogue. During the Bed-in, Lennon also wrote a song and invited some friends to join him in the bedroom and sing it.

Lennon starts out mocking all the isms of the time, and tells us to forget about all these ideologies, and just give peace a chance. Then he proceeds to call out the names of many of the heroes of the time, including some we’ve mentioned. We can even see some of them, like Timothy Leary and Allen Ginsberg, joining John and Yoko in the chorus.

As we’ve seen, the psychedelic experience caused many of those who experienced it to feel unity, not just with the people around them but also with the entire cosmos. Therefore, the Hippies preached not just peace and love between humans, but also between Man and nature. Going against the industrial power that America was so proud of in the 1950s, the Hippies decried what this power does to nature.

Earlier we’ve seen Joni Mitchell singing that we are on our way to an earthly paradise. But in another song, she tells us how “they” paved over paradise, to build a parking lot. There was actually nothing new about this claim. The traditional Western attitude towards nature is based on the Judeo-Christian belief that Man was put on the Earth to rule it.

This approach led to science, which explores nature to understand and master it, and out of that came technology, which gives us ever greater control on the world around us, and industry, which processes nature for our needs. But there were always movements in the West that went against this trend, and preached that Man is part of nature, and should live harmoniously with it.

The industrial revolution created even greater alienation between Man and nature, and the romantic movement of the 19th century contained many voices that wanted to reconnect to nature. Some of these voices now resonated with the Hippies, and with them, this movement of return to nature became part of popular culture, a lot more widespread.

The result was the birth of the Environmental movement which persists today. In music, this was manifested in some rock bands turning to country. Country is the music of the rural folks, those who regard the simple rustic life in the village as the true existence, away from the urban life that twists and complicates the human soul.

Some Hippies found in this music a medium to express escape from the urban world and return to the land. We’ve already mentioned the Byrds, pioneers of folk-rock and psychedelia. And they were pioneers in this as well, as in 1968 they released an album that laid the foundations to a new style: country-rock.

Earlier on, in their psychedelic phase, the Byrds already released a single that, in a way, indicated this direction. In ‘5th Dimension’, from mid-1966, we find all the usual psychedelic elements: the sensation of passive floating, the feeling that you are merging with the universe, the sense that you are gaining a top-down view on your existence and understanding its essence.

But what insight does the protagonist of this trip arrive at? The dissent here is not just against industry and technology, but against the very thing that they are based on: Western science. Science, the Byrds sing, is madness, that only causes misery. We need to liberate ourselves from it to be happy.

We’ve already encountered this criticism of science in Aldous Huxley, who argued that looking at nature through scientific glasses has a reducing effect on our perception, making us ignore everything that cannot be scientifically measured. Huxley’s alternative was to combine the scientific approach with an aesthetic approach, giving us a more comprehensive and well-rounded view of existence.

Psychedelia, at first, lived up to Huxley’s ideal: it blended scientific exploration, and use of the wonders of technology, with going out to nature and developing the mystical side of the soul. But here, we already see a complete defection to the other side, and there were Hippies who believed that they should turn their back on science, technology and the modern world, and find their truth in nature and in mystical approaches that provided a different truth, one that can’t be grasped by scientific thought.

Then again, not everyone developed this hate to science and technology. There were some who took this rebellious spirit in the direction of undermining the industry’s monopoly on technology, and finding ways to take technology in different directions. Computer science, for instance, was developing in strides since world war two, and was completely in the hands of giant corporations like IBM, that took it in industrial and military directions.

In the sixties, some youngsters began exploring this field, aiming to bring the creative Hippie spirit into it. Out of their explorations we got video games, the home computer, and practically the entire cybernetic world as we know it today. This change in attitude towards nature was most prominent when it came to the issue of sex.

Christianity teaches that sex is impure, that even sexual thoughts are sinful, and that the human body is a prison we need to be released from. Sex, in the dominant Christian thought, is something that should be done not for recreation, but only for procreation. In the fifties, with the tight social control blended with puritanism, the repression of sexuality was at its peak, but the second half of the decade saw the invention of two things that tore it to shreds: the birth control pill, which allowed you to have sex without fear of pregnancy, and rock’n’roll, with the rhythm and wild dance moves borrowed from blacks, which was like an orgasmic release from the repression.

With the Hippies, the sexuality of rock’n’roll became ideological, an ideology that turned Christian metaphysics on its head, and claimed that the body is beautiful, that sexuality is an expression of love between humans, and that the sexual act should be done first and foremost for enjoyment.

Beyond enjoyment, the act was also believed to be freeing our consciousness from its fear of sexuality, just like the drugs freed it from other inhibitions. “Make love, not war” was the slogan – if more people made love, believed the Hippies, there would be less wars and strife in the world.

Thus, we got the holy trinity of the Hippie culture: sex, drugs, rock’n’roll. Driven by this ideology, rock’n’roll became more and more sexually daring, more and more explicit. Fifties rock’n’roll still used euphemisms and innuendo, but the way Jimi Hendrix played the guitar left very little room for the imagination.

And with heavy metal, which took acid-rock to more physical directions, the sexuality became even more graphic. An essential change also occurred in female attitude towards sex. In the fifties, girls were taught that they have no sexual drive, and that their aspiration should be to get a man to marry them and build a family.

Rock’n’roll, at first, was a guy thing, horny boys looking to seduce girls. The early youth subcultures – the Teddy Boys, the Rockers and the Surfers – were also a guy thing. But in the early sixties came the girl bands, that represented the female side of youth culture, and the Mods were the first youth subculture where girls were an integral part, and could express their creativity and individuality and contribute to the culture.

In girl bands songs, they would always be turned on by bad boys, those who were rebellious, rode bikes and danced to rock’n’roll songs. And still, those early sixties records were part of the old consciousness, expressing a desire to tame these wild boys and make good husbands out of them. When the Hippies came along, they brought a new female attitude, of women who wanted to enjoy sex as well.

Grace Slick and Janis Joplin were the first white female singers who moved on stage in the uninhibited way that men did. But they still had a lot to learn from black performers. Here’s Tina Turner, one of the only black rock artists of the sixties. The attitude towards parenting also went a radical transformation.

The kids who grew into the fifties paradigm, which tried to shape the next generation, threw away these reins, and some went to the opposite extreme, and believed that they should let their kids grow as their nature dictates, with no restrains. These ideals of love towards your fellow man and towards nature manifested themselves in the Hippie communes that started to spring in California.

These communes grew organically, driven by the shared spirit that imbued them, not out of some Marxist ideology. In the early days of the Haight Ashbury scene, the members of the Grateful Dead all lived together in the same apartment, sharing everything, and so did others. From there, the next step was to go out of city limits and return to nature, and there were Hippies who purchased farms and built communes, growing their own food and dreaming of feeding the entire world.

We are hearing Jefferson Airplane singing a country-rock hymn to the farm communes. In 1969, Jefferson Airplane were swept by the new revolutionary spirit, and became one of its main voices. We should, however, distinguish between this revolutionary spirit and revolutionary Marxism, which we shall discuss in the next episode.

The Marxists believed that if we topple the existing order, a better one will naturally emerge, so they focused on a violent struggle against the system. The Hippies, in contrast, focused on creating and developing an alternative, believing that it will gradually conquer more and more minds and eventually usurp the old system without violence.

In short, they believed in winning through culture, not through politics. Thus, the counter-culture of the sixties was born, a counter-culture burrowed from the spirit of psychedelia and the Hippies. The values of this counter-culture were developed mainly in and around rock music. Which meant that new channels had to be created to spread these values.

New record labels were formed, dedicated to finding and recording rock bands. Since many of these records would not be played by radio stations, pirate radio began to thrive, beaming this mind-blowing music into the bedrooms of kids. Important music critics started to emerge, and they discussed not only the music itself but also the insights and values contained in it, adding to the conversation.

Magazines that were wholly dedicated to the culture began to be published, the most important of them being Rolling Stone, based in San Francisco. The magazine offered a new kind of journalism, which became known as gonzo journalism, in which the reporter would not try to be objective, but offer their point of view.

Often, it meant that they had to become part of the event that they were reporting on, and give their first person account. A bit later came the magazine National Lampoon, which took the spirit of the counter-culture in the direction of subversive humor. In the early seventies, National Lampoon would also spread into stand-up comedy, and then to TV and movies, and this new humor would dominate American comedy for decades.

All of these channels emerged spontaneously and organically, but from 1968 there began an effort to bring everything together, to create an alternative society. The dream was to turn the counter-culture into a self-contained world, a society that creates its own food and shares it around, a culture that creates new ecstatic experiences through music and turns life into endless fun, a collective mind that forms new insights through psychedelic trips and takes humans consciousness to new realms, a civilization that exists in peace and love.

And there were also attempts to enter the political sphere. In 1968, the Youth International Party, or YIP for short, was formed, and its members referred to themselves as Yippies. As implied by their name, the Yippies were the political version of the Hippies, bringing the spirit of the Merry Pranksters into politics, aspiring to turn the political system into a circus of random pranks and gimmicks.

Their revolutionary ideology, they declared, draws its spirit from Marx. Not Karl Marx – the Marx brothers. The Yippies initiated a series of pranks that reached its peak in the 1968 presidential elections, during which they nominated and ran a pig named Pigasus for President. It was all supposed to be in good fun, but the authorities, from the other side of the generational gap, didn’t get the joke.

The Yippies’ militant declarations that they are going to create a society based on sex and drugs were taken seriously by the authorities, and their violent reaction wasn’t fun at all. The attempts to step out of the counter-culture bubble and into the world of the dominant culture led to bad results, as we shall see in the coming episodes.

The last attempt by the counter-culture to play the political game happened in 1969, when Timothy Leary ran to the governorship of California, then governed by Ronald Reagan, a sworn enemy of the Hippies. He even solicited John Lennon to write a campaign song for him, but the campaign was terminated when Leary was arrested and charged for possession of drugs.

The Beatles then reworked the song for themselves, and turned it into a song about a Hippie person who calls on the world to join him and unite. By then, however, the spirit of unity in the counter-culture had pretty much dissipated, and the atmosphere became increasingly more negative. From here on, it was all downhill.

Source Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oe0cyRRuR3s

The Summer of Love and Psychedelia

Here’s a YouTube video that does a great job explaining the times and music leading up to The  Summer of Love.  The author shows his philosophical roots in his screen name “Zarathustra’s Serpent”.

If the name sounds familiar, it evidently came from Friedrich Nietzsche’s book “Thus Spoke Zarathustra”, a nineteenth-century philosopher.  Nietzche’s book was the foundation for composer Richard Straus’s musical work of the same name. Stanley Kubrick used the opening of the Straus piece in his 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Enjoy this excellent video and transcript from Zarathustra’s Serpent on YouTube.


It is no wonder that the heart of the Summer of Love was California. California, after all, is a place associated with endless summer, and in the beginning of the sixties, this endless summer was turned by pop music into a magical ideal.

To see how, we will have to take a moment to discuss surf music. Surfing is a custom that originated in Hawaii, where the Polynesian natives would ride the waves on wooden boards, a religious ritual of dealing with the forces of nature. The infiltration of the modern world, especially after the US annexed the island, has changed the local culture, but revenge was soon to arrive.

Some Americans adopted surfing, imported it to America and formed a subculture on the beaches of California. The surfers were youngsters who despised the puritanical capitalist idea that you should work hard to gain materialistic wealth, and instead chose a life of fun and ecstasy, where your existence is focused on riding the current wave and waiting for the next wave.

The American mainstream society, on its part, regarded them as un-American, and portrayed them as beach bums who dedicate their life to sensual pleasures instead of something meaningful. But surf culture found a way to fight back, and it did it through rock’n’roll. The man who started it all was Dick Dale, a surfer that was excited by the rebellious sound of rock’n’roll and wanted to combine it with the experience of wave surfing, to express the free spirit of the surfers and the joy of riding a big wave.

Working together with an innovator called Leo Fender, he revamped the electric guitar and added many effects, which made it possible for him to express the roar of the waves, the woosh of the wind, the spray of foam, and other sounds that you experience when you struggle with the powers of the ocean.

The power of Dale’s guitar was so great that it blew every existing amplifier, and compelled the industry to create more powerful amps, paving the way to acid rock and later to heavy metal. And so, Dale would surf the waves, reach the shore, grab his guitar, and blast electric surges that shook the ground in the vicinity and drew youngsters to join the party.

The waves made by Dale and the other surf guitarists travelled all over the globe, and bequeathed to the sixties values of loud rock music, love of nature and life for the current thrill, a legacy that will be fully embraced and developed by psychedelia. But the most famous band to come out of the surf rock scene had an entirely different style.

The Wilson brothers grew up in a musical family, and they formed a group that combined vocal doo-wop harmonies with rock’n’roll guitars. When they cut their first single in 1961, brother Denis, who was a surfer, suggested that they write a song for the subculture, and the record ‘Surfin” was born.

It found success, and they decided to base their songs around the surfing culture and even called themselves by one of the names that surfers used to identify themselves: the Beach Boys. This combination that the Beach Boys created, between doo-wop harmonies, rock’n’roll, and touches of surf guitar, took the pop world by storm in 1963.

But the song we’re watching now demonstrates the difference from original rock’n’roll. It borrows its melody from Chuck Berry’s classic ‘Sweet Little Sixteen’, which is about the ecstasy that a teenage girl feels while watching a rock’n’roll show, and it emulates it to tell us about the ecstasy of going surfing.

But in Berry’s song, the girl has to go back to school on the next day, whereas the Beach Boys tell the teacher that they are leaving for an endless summer and don’t intend to come back. In original rock’n’roll, you remained in the conformist and suffocating world you grew into, and the ecstasy came from breaking these chains with music.

While surf music pictures a world where there are no chains, just an existence dedicated to having fun. The most talented Wilson brother was Brian, and he wrote most of the band’s songs. His dominance over the creative side was enhanced after a nervous breakdown he had in 1964, which compelled him to retire from live performances and focus on writing songs, and more importantly, producing records.

This is one of the biggest revolutions that rock’n’roll brought to the music world: the record became the heart of the creative process. In jazz, as we mentioned in previous episodes, the focus shifted from writing to performance, and jazz records tried to sound as close as possible to a live performance.

Jazz musicians would usually not edit or add anything to the recording – it was considered cheating. In rock’n’roll, on the other hand, it was customary to record different parts and then edit them together, to add sound effects, and to employ studio technology to manipulate the recording and turn it into a unique piece of soundscape.

Studio technology reached a very high level by the beginning of the sixties, and those years saw the rise of the record producers, the people responsible for recording and editing. Brian Wilson got into the thick of things and became a production wizard, and under his direction the Beach Boys started to produce elaborate and distinctive records.

In 1966 they released the album Pet Sounds, the first rock’n’roll album that was regarded as an art piece in its own right and not just as a collection of tracks. Every track on the album is a magnificent tapestry of sophisticated vocal harmonies and novel exotic sounds. They followed that with the same thing but in a much more concentrated dose, with the single ‘Good Vibrations’, another masterpiece of production.

Previously, we characterized the psychedelic experience as a state where the linear perception of reality breaks down, and your consciousness is being flooded with stimuli from all directions, causing a feeling that you elevated to a higher order. This is pretty much what we get here, and in many of the records that will be presented in this episode: rather than choosing one wave to surf on, we let many vibrations wash over us all at once, and take us into a magical kingdom.

When the Beatles came on the scene, they were initially a rebellion against sophisticated production, and went back to the primitive power of early rock’n’roll, with their records trying to recreate the way they sounded live. But by 1966 they grew tired of live performances, with the squealing girls who made it impossible to even hear the music, and they started to spend a lot more time in the studio, making increasingly innovative records with their super-producer George Martin.

The album Revolver, from that year, was a turning point, after which they decided to retire from live performances and become exclusively a studio band. The themes they sang about got deeper, dealing with existential questions, and they started to put a lot of thought into every record. Other rock’n’roll artists went through a similar process at the time, but Revolver is a perfect showcase for what put the Beatles above all else: every one of the four band members represented a different approach to existential questions, and together they could attack a theme from all sides, and present a totality.

This all-around totality, coming from four different personalities completing each other, characterized the Beatles from the beginning. John Lennon was rebellious and sarcastic, with a searing and aggressive singing style; Paul McCartney was pleasant and witty, with a lovely lilting voice; George Harrison was shy and reflective, with an enchanting vocal; and Ringo Starr was genial and outgoing, with a warm and embracing voice.

They had something for everyone, and together they were one unit working in harmony. When the substance got deeper, and they began to pursue the path to happiness, the differences also got deeper. John was looking for the answer in rebelling against the existing order and searching for something else, and his music took an experimental tinge, trying to break the mold of pop songs.

Paul sought the answer in merging the new ideas of the sixties with traditional western ideas, and musically, he took what his friends were doing and fused it with older musical styles. George connected with Buddhist mysticism, looking for the answer beyond this world, and musically he began infusing the sound of the band with Indian instruments and melodies.

And Ringo remained the down to earth guy, who finds happiness in hanging out with the guys, and served as an anchor to his three friends, reminding them not to take themselves too seriously. In Revolver these distinctions first came to light in all their sharpness, with everyone giving their take on the ideas that began percolating out of psychedelia, and they all come together to form a perfect album.

Here we hear Ringo singing a song written by Paul McCartney, which is actually a children song, but also contains the psychedelic dream of escaping to a colorful fairy-tale land, where you just have endless fun. This wish to go back to childhood, to an earlier happier memory, was also at the center of their next planned project: they intended to make an entire album dedicated to songs about Liverpool, the place where they grew up.

The result was their next single, released in February 1967. On one side we find ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’, about a place they used to play in as children, and it was a milestone in record production. Some of the instruments here, including Lennon’s voice, are played in a slower speed, making them sound weird and bent, while others are played backwards, causing a disturbing effect.

It also has electric organs playing acidic sounds that were novel at the time, and Indian instruments that contribute to the hypnotic atmosphere. All of that creates a kind of super-natural fantasy, and Lennon’s abstract lyrics convey a sense of loss of identity and orientation. The Beatles also made a surrealistic promo film to accompany the record, seen today as one of the precursors of the video clip.

And the success of the single marked the moment when psychedelic music began its takeover of the charts. Eventually, instead of the Liverpool album, the Beatles decided on another project: they will assume the identity of a psychedelic fair band called Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and the entire album will be comprised of numbers this band would have on its show.

While their first albums took only a few hours to record, this time they shut themselves in the studio for more than half a year, working weeks on every track to make it special, and they also put a lot of thought into the design of the album sleeve. The result was an album that was based in the daily life of 1967 London, but looked at it from a psychedelic perspective.

‘Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite’, for instance, is based on an advertisement poster for a circus, and it mixes its lines to make a song, while the production creates an effect of a kaleidoscopic musical box, to generate a carnivalesque atmosphere. The album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band came out on June 1st, 1967, and remained on top of the charts for the entire summer.

It contained all the breakthroughs of the sixties, and wrapped them in a package that was digestible to the general public. The result was a cultural big bang. The hectic atmosphere of swinging London, that was building up throughout the sixties, reached its peak in this summer, and Sgt. Pepper led a wave of happy and optimistic pop music.

But this summer also marked the rise of California as a counterweight to London’s dominance, and the main cause for that was Hippie acid-rock. California, as we’ve mentioned, was identified in the early sixties mainly with surf rock. But the British invasion of 1964 blew surf out of the water, with only the Beach Boys left standing.

In 1965, California got some reinforcement, as some artists of the New York folk scene moved to Los Angeles to form folk-rock, a style that was a fusion of folk, rock’n’roll, harmonies in the mold of the Beatles and the Beach Boys, and Beat philosophy. We’ve already mentioned the Byrds, the band that led this wave.

Here’s another folk-rock band that moved from New York to LA that year, and at the end of the year released a record that celebrated the delights of sunny California, and its free spirit that drew them to it. And from the beginning of 67, it was San Francisco that became the center of Californian music.

In January, Height Ashbury hosted a festival titled The Human Be-In, which unified all the art movements in the place. The Beat poets read their poetry, Timothy Leary lectured on psychedelics, the local avant-Garde theater troupes put on their plays, but at the center of it all were the acid rock bands, which established their status as the heart of the scene.

Rock music, which bohemia always considered to be just silly pop music for teenagers, now started to be regarded as the deepest conveyor of the human spirit. The next logical step was to arrange a festival that will be purely musical, and in the middle of June came the Monterey Pop Festival, the first rock festival in history, a three day event that brought together the acid rock bands of San Francisco with the folk rock bands of LA and with some of the best British bands, as well as some other surprises.

The song we are hearing in background was a song written for the festival by John Phillips of the Mamas and the Papas, sung by Scott McKenzie, inviting everyone to join the new thing. The Haight Ashbury Hippies had some doubts about the festival. First of all, they didn’t like the ticket prices.

The acid rock bands played for the community, for nominal sums, not for profits. Secondly, they were afraid that this will bring the commercialization of the scene, and destroy the small, joyful, loving world they created for themselves. And they especially didn’t like the idea that the event was going to be filmed and shown in movie theaters.

Jefferson Airplane was already famous and had some hits in the chart, but the other bands were still underground, and liked it that way. The Grateful Dead agreed to play in the festival, but only on the condition that they will not be filmed, and not be part of the movie. Big Brother and the Holding Company made the same stipulation, but they forgot to take one thing into account: how good Janis Joplin was.

Her performance was so electrifying that it wowed the audience, stealing the show from the more famous acts. Janis descended the stage triumphantly, but then remembered, to her heartbreak, that her triumph wasn’t filmed. After much pleading, the band managed to persuade the organizers to let them perform again on the next day, this time on camera.

Witnesses say that this performance was not as good, and suffered from overexertion by Janis, but it was still good enough to launch her into superstardom. The summer of 1967, the summer of Sgt. Pepper and the Monterey Pop Festival, became known in the history of pop as the Summer of Love. The pop music of that summer, and the entire year, has unique characteristics, that distinguish it from any other year.

Let’s discuss these characteristics. Unless otherwise mentioned, all the records presented here are from 1967, and it’s hard to mistaken their belonging to that year. The first characteristic we notice is the slowing down of tempo. Rock’n’roll has always been a style of exhilarating dance music, and acid-rock, with all the changes it brought, left this aspect intact.

But the effect of LSD caused some people to want to stop, lie motionless, and allow all the sensual stimuli to wash over them. On this track from Revolver, the Beatles ask us not to disturb their sleep, and allow all the wondrous dreams to come. The world may think that this is laziness, sings Lennon, but he insists that this is the best way to live.

The pace, accordingly, is slowed down. In ‘Penny Lane’, the other side of the ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ single, the sleeping is done with your eyes open. McCartney just lies awake in Liverpool’s Penny Lane, and lets all the affairs in the road flow through him and fill his consciousness, just watching everyone running around without taking an active role.

We find this passive attitude and dreamy quality in many other Summer of Love records. With the rhythm becoming less dominant, vocal harmonies came to the fore, and so did sound effects, designed to stimulate the listener’s acid drenched mind. It was a very colorful year, with the clothes, the album covers, and everything else coming wrapped in rainbow colors, to make the visuals match the sounds.

This sinking in a dream made the collective mind of that generation open itself up to the monotonous, droning sound of classical Indian music. India, after all, is constantly a background to our story. In that seminal 1955 poetry evening in which Allen Ginsberg enthralled the poet community of San Francisco, there was another newcomer poet called Gary Snyder, who just came back from a trip to India and read poetry inspired by his experiences.

Snyder introduced the Beatniks to the philosophy of Zen, which is also essentially an attempt to free your mind of any molds, and Zen ideas infiltrated the writings of Kerouac and other Beatniks. And the other side of psychedelia also had an enormous debt to Indian culture: Timothy Leary, as we recall, based his ideas on the Tibetan Book of the Dead.

Indian music is hard for western minds to comprehend, since it has no melody or harmony but just elongated winding sounds, an endless flow. But after the groundwork of Leary and the Beatniks, and under the influence of acid, it started to make sense. We’ve mentioned George Harrison, who injected Indian sounds into the Beatles’ music.

Other bands started to do the same, adding to the psychedelic mix of the year. Summer of Love pop, then, drifted away from the Merry Pranksters brand of psychedelia, the one based on wild dancing, and instead drew closer to Timothy Leary’s brand, of a trip that takes place inside your mind, while the body remains motionless.

This was reciprocated by the other party as well. Previously, we described how Leary, the serious scholar, would not go out to greet the noisy and mischievous Pranksters when they popped by his ranch in 1964. But the sounds coming from the rock world reached his ears as well, and he gradually became more laidback, more hip.

By 1967, he was part of the Hippie culture, and they, in turn, made him a cultural hero. We hear some interesting things in this Moody Blues record. First, we meet the flute, another instrument whose mystical enchanting sound contributed much to the Summer of Love soundscape. Secondly, we once again meet the idea that drugs take you on a trip which expands your mind.

That’s the goal of dropping out of the rush of daily life and taking a passive, reflective look at it: when you are part of the flow, you operate without knowing or thinking, but if you stop and take a look at your life, you can go back to it with a better understanding of how to live it and be happy.

The drugs, according to this belief, take you on a trip that takes you out of yourself and allows you to take a top-down look on your consciousness and understand how it works, so when you go back to yourself you can be in better control of it and direct it to your needs. We’ve already met that idea in Dylan’s ‘Mr.

Tambourine Man’, where it is described as a magic ship that takes you away. Many Summer of Love records use similar imagery. First, of course, there’s the bus, which the Merry Pranksters turned into a symbol for a psychedelic trip. Or, it could be a magic carpet… But the most popular image was the spaceship.

The sixties was the decade in which space was conquered, when humanity broke out of its planet and started to reach for the stars. This naturally fired the imagination of the generation, and rock bands turned it into a metaphor for the inner expedition, the journey to conquer new realms of consciousness.

One of the best expressions of this introspective approach can be found on the Sgt. Pepper album. The track ‘Good Morning, Good Morning’, is based on a TV ad for cereal, once again displaying the process of taking everyday things and turning them into art. The protagonist of the track is a man who just goes on his daily routine, without any reflection, and has nothing to say.

This is supposedly how most of us live our lives, and the music is simple and mechanic. But the following track is ‘A Day in the Life’, which is about the daily life of the introspective man. The song has three levels. The lowest level is provided by Paul McCartney, and it’s the mechanical routine level of daily existence: it begins with him going downstairs, and then running around to do his usual daily things.

Then he goes upstairs and smokes a joint, and goes into a dream, entering a higher level, the level of reflection. This level is provided by John Lennon, and he tells us that he reads the paper or watches a movie, citing actual articles and movies of the time, and that starts a train of thought that takes him to the highest level, the level of absolute transcendence, which is provided by a symphonic orchestra playing a note that gets louder and louder and becomes a cosmic bang.

These are the levels of everyday life, according to the Beatles. And that is the perception of the pop age. The traditional perception in western society was to treat human life as meaningless and miserable, an existence that we want to transcend into an eternal and happy existence. For the Beatles, on the other hand, daily life may be mundane, but it is not miserable – as the protagonist in ‘Good Morning, Good Morning’ tells us, it’s ok.

And the transcendence does not take us to an eternal plane, but is still part of daily existence – once it’s over, we wake up back into our daily routine. In other words, we don’t have to aspire to an existence that is beyond our daily earthly life, but find our exultations within it. This was the perception that dominated rock’n’roll from the start, but psychedelia turned into an existential philosophy.

And while early rock’n’roll found transcendence through ecstatic dance eruptions, here it is achieved through delirious reflections. This presumably higher level of daily existence, which gives you a top-down view on your regular routines, also gives you a better understanding of humanity at large.

Some Summer of Love records express the feeling that the singer has a superior position, and can see into the minds of other people. Driven by this perception, the pop kids rejected the notion that they should work for a better tomorrow. If your life is miserable, it is not because earthly existence is miserable in its essence, but because your mind is tangles up in ideas that it has to free itself from.

You must therefore stop directing your thoughts to the future, and learn how to live for today. This approach also explains the wish to return to childhood, which we saw in the Beatles. Several Summer of Love records convey this wish to go back to a more innocent state, where you’re not worried about the future but simply enjoy the moment.

Another side of this approach was the wish to go back to nature, the nature which the modern industrial world detached us from, and become part of it once again. The Hippies were also called flower boys, because of this wish to be part of what they saw as the natural harmony. Many Summer of Love records talk about going out to bask in the warmth of the Sun and the beauty of nature.

This return to nature was accompanied by a change in the attitude towards sex. Christianity taught us to hate the human flesh, and to want to free ourselves from it to get to heaven. But the sixties brought the sexual revolution, which demanded to see sexuality and the body as positive and beautiful.

Sex is one of the ways to reach exultation in our earthly life, and is therefore a good thing. Rock’n’roll, with its rhythmic sexuality, was the main force driving this revolution. Explicit sexuality would not be broadcast over the airwaves, so rock’n’roll artists had to use innuendos.

But in 67 there were several records that started to be more daring. And the main value of the Summer of Love, the one that brought all the aforementioned things together, was of course love. As we saw, the effect of hallucinogenic drugs caused a sense of the falling of boundaries and that we are becoming part of a universal harmony, part of a loving cosmos.

A feeling of solidarity swept over the youth in 1967, making them believe that this is the real human condition and all the resentment and strife are just part of the old world, the world of the adults with all of their complications and inhibitions that prevent them from living out their true nature.

Many anthems for the power and magic of love were written in that year, and the belief was that this love will eventually conquer the world. On June 25th, 1967, the world took another step towards becoming a global village, with the first TV show that was simultaneously broadcasted to many countries, using satellite.

Every participating country contributed a segment, and Britain contributed the Beatles. The Fab Four, who were coming down from the heights of sophistication of Sgt. Pepper, decided that for this event they should write something more direct and anthemic, so they just condensed the spirit of that summer into five simple words.

Their next project was a TV movie, and the concept that they decided on was a psychedelic bus tour, which will take them through all sorts of surrealistic experiences. So, it took them longer than they thought, but the Merry Pranksters eventually did manage to do what they set out to achieve in 1965: get the Beatles on the bus, and into the movie.

The universe did eventually arrange a meeting between them, at least philosophically. But the movie Magical Mystery Tour, that was broadcast on television at the end of the year, also heralds the end of the Summer of Love. The song ‘Blue Jay Way’ was written by George Harrison in Los Angeles, as he was sitting and waiting for friends who were late for a meeting because they lost their way, but the record also expresses his impression of what he saw in Haight Ashbury that week.

Following the Summer of Love and the Monterey Pop Festival, the entire music industry stormed San Francisco, signed all the acid rock bands on contracts, and began a fast process of commercializing Hippie culture. With them came other people who saw an opportunity for a quick buck, and Haight Ashbury was soon filled with drug dealers, charlatan gurus, quacks, professional shysters, and other unsavory types looking to exploit the naïve kids who came to the place looking for spirituality and enlightenment – and the police, of course, followed on their heels.

Height Ashbury became Hashbury, just a big ashtray of pot. When Harrison sings about his friends who lost their way, he is also talking about the Hippies, lost in their drug haze. “Please don’t be long” he sings about his friends, but in the end, when he repeats “don’t be long” over and over again, it becomes “don’t belong”.

Haight Ashbury was no longer a place worth being part of. 1967 was over. The next year will be completely different.

Source Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jx0So076nbU

The Beat Generation

Here’s a YouTube video that does a great job explaining the start of the beatniks.  The author shows his philosophical roots in his screen name “Zarathustra’s Serpent”.


This is a story that has never been told. There are so many books about the sixties, and so many things that have been written about this period. And still, despite reading anything I could find on the subject, I have yet to encounter any attempt to show how it all makes sense when put together, any effort to fully document the spiritual journey that the protagonists of the story went through.

This series will endeavor to fill the gap, to tell the full story of psychedelic music, and the culture that emerged around it. To me, this is the focal point of the sixties, the thing around which most else revolves. The series will tell the story of how it emerged, what it was all about, how it fell apart, and what happened in the aftermath.

And through that, we are pretty much going to tell the story of pop culture and pop music in the second half of the twentieth century. So, open your minds, and let me take you on this magical journey out of the past. Now before we begin to talk about psychedelia, we must understand where it came from.

And you can’t understand psychedelia if you don’t first of all start by talking about Beat. Our story begins at the end of the 1930s. This is the period known as the swing era, the period in which the big bands took over the pop world. So big band swing became the new mainstream, and when this happens to a pop style, the original fans of the style always feel a split.

Suddenly, there are many artists out there who pretend to be part of the style, but the music they produce lacks the inner essence of it. The fans then make a distinction between music that they perceive as “real”, and music they perceive as a fake imitation. What swing fans called “real” swing was a rhythmic style, in which the entire band would create an enormous forward drive, compelling your body to break out in an ecstatic dance.

And the soloists, carried on the wings of this propulsion, would then improvise solos that would lift your spirit to the heavens. But among the general public, that didn’t get the essence of swing, the most popular records did not have that quality. They had formal similarities to swing, using the same instruments and melodies, but rather than being ruled by the swing feeling, the players would play in the traditional European way of following notes; or sometimes they would try to imitate the fervor of the “real” swing bands, but since they lacked the inner essence of it, the outcome was crass and tasteless.

Among swing fans and musicians, the prevailing feeling was that the music industry robbed their music and neutered it. In the beginning of the forties, a number of black musicians assembled in Harlem, and started to look for a new way. The way they saw it, the white industry robbed the blacks of Swing and of all the other black-made authentic jazz forms, so they needed to dive deeper into the logic of jazz and distill its essence.

Grouping in small bands of five or six members, they would begin playing a familiar pop song, but then ditch the melody in favor of improvisation, and set sail into the unknown. Leaving only the chord structure of the original song, the soloists would play with breathtaking speed and create a completely new tune.

Every time someone else would take the lead and the other musicians would follow, and then another soloist would take his ideas and develop them in his way, and the other band members would react to that. Thus, a kind of collective consciousness was formed, which would produce an original musical piece.

This music could no longer be experiences in the traditional way of listening to the melody. To enjoy it, you had to get into the music, to feel yourself regenerated at that moment along with it. This new style was termed bop, or bebop. Bebop created a space in which black consciousness could develop freely, without meddling from the white establishment, and the seeds that were sown in it would grow rebellious generations of African-Americans for decades to come.

But there were also some white people who connected to bebop, whites whose soul was welded in the furnace of jazz and could therefore understand the new musical experience. One of them was a young man named Jack Kerouac, who aspired to be a novelist and find a new form of literary expression. Kerouac, who lived near Harlem, had the chance to experience bebop in the years of its formation, and found in it a source of inspiration.

He regarded the bebop musicians as spiritual guides, artists who are paving a new spiritual way, and he wanted to bring their spirit into literature, to write in the way that they played. But Kerouac could not find the way to do so, at least not until 1944, the year he met two people with which he could form his own jam session.

William Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg were also young bohemians who were looking for another way, and the three realized that they have a spiritual connection, and decided that they represent the birth of a new consciousness. In their view, Western civilization became a heartless technocracy, an industrial-militaristic-capitalistic society, which subjugates the humane side of Man and enslaves it to the rational side, and therefore its logic is a cold and inhumane logic driven only by utilitarian motives.

Man thus became an unhappy creature, and to regain his happiness, we must liberate the human spirit from the shackles of this technocracy. Their goal was to find the way to freedom, and liberate humanity. William Burroughs, the elder of the bunch, became the mentor. Burroughs was born to a wealthy family and could have led a comfortable life, but instead he decided to dedicate his life to liberation from social conventions and lies, and find the truth about reality.

How can this be done? One way, believed Burroughs, was to drop out of conformed society, to live outside of the conventional mind. So he abandoned his bourgeois existence, and moved to the sphere populated by criminals, junkies, prostitutes and tramps. Another way is through the use of mind-altering drugs, and Burroughs tried every known substance and every possible drug cocktail to see what they can teach him about his mind.

He soon became a junky, but for him, it was all part of the purgatory you have to go through to see existence for what it is. In his dealings with underworld people, Burroughs learned the slang of their world, and in it he found the term which he used to signify the state of existence that he was after.

The word ‘Beat’, in this slang, meant a state of losing everything and lying in the gutter. It meant that you were beaten by life, but for Burroughs, being “beat” signified exactly what he wanted: to lose all the baggage that conformed society instilled in him, and become free. Burroughs imparted this idea to his new friends, and for Kerouac, who was a Catholic, the word ‘Beat’ immediately connected to the concept of Beatitude, and thus took on a meaning of holy blessedness.

And so, the term ‘Beat’ came to signify a state in which you beat your old identity and demolish it, and in this way become liberated from the lies that society implanted in you, and become pure and real. The word would become the center of the new consciousness, and the three friends would eventually call themselves The Beat Generation.

The existence that Kerouac espoused was based on the ideal of the bebop musicians: a purely spontaneous existence, in which you recreate your life in each and every moment, instead of following preexisting patterns. When a jazz instrumentalist gets carried on the wings of the music, it takes over him, and the musical ideas spring from his subconscious without thought.

Thought comes a little bit later, when he develops these ideas further, but they are initialized in a spontaneous way. This is how Kerouac wanted to live, and he intended to then record his existence autobiographically in print, and thus create literary bop. But his nature was that of an intellectual and a novelist, a man whose existence is mired in preexistent patterns, and hence he was in a bind: to experience the existence he wanted, and thus to create the literature he imagined, he had to first give up on his identity as a novelist, and so actually give up on his dream.

The only way out of the bind was to find spiritual guides who will drag him along with them. Ginsberg and Burroughs took him part of the way, but to get to where he wanted, he needed a different kind of guide. And fortunately, he met him shortly after. Neal Cassady was a truly unique individual. A hyperactive young man who couldn’t rest for one moment, and was driven by an insatiable lust to swallow as much life as he could, Cassady was always in motion, always talking, always randomly bringing up new ideas and taking his line of thought to strange places, always looking for new adventures, always hunting for new sexual conquests.

He seemed to be living on a different level from most people, a level that is more intense. He was the essence of the spontaneous existence that Kerouac championed, a perfect model to follow. He also loved stealing cars and going out on long trips along the long roads of America, and he dragged Kerouac along with him.

Between the years 1947 and 1951, Cassady and Kerouac crisscrossed America from top to bottom and from side to side, never staying in one place for more than a few weeks, living from temporary jobs, going to jazz performances whenever they had the chance, and experiencing all sorts of adventures. At the end of this period, Kerouac sat down to write a book that would document their travels.

This was one of the components of Kerouac’s new literary style: real life experiences precede the writing. Just like a bebop musician creates the music on the spot and doesn’t read it from the paper, so should the novelist first live the story, and only later write it down. Unlike writers of fiction who make up their stories, Kerouac’s books were always autobiographical.

There were novelists who preceded him in that, such as Marcel Proust who was one of his influences, but what exemplified Kerouac was that his writing style was also inspired by bop. To write the book, he bought a big roll of paper and stuck it in his typewriter so he wouldn’t need to stop and change pages, and over the course of a few weeks, so goes the legend, he poured everything on paper in the order that the words came into his mind, never stopping to think and never rewriting.

There are places in the book where you can see Kerouac riding an inspirational wave, and producing a long sentence in which the flowing stream of words flourishes and creates a kind of literary jazz. Here’s one of the segments that best represent his rhythmic and spontaneous style of writing, telling about the time when he introduced Allen Ginsberg to Neal Cassady, and how the two immediately clicked: They danced down the streets like dingledodies, and I shambled after as I’ve been doing all my life after people who interest me, because the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes “awww!” We learn a few interesting things from this paragraph.

First, the belief that the only true existence is a burning existence. In philosophy, this worldview is identified with the Greek philosopher Heraclitus, who claimed that fire is the foundation of all existence, and that there is nothing stable in existence, but everything is in flow. According to the worldview presented here by Kerouac, life that is lived on the basis of steady and established principles distances you from the real existence, and to be real you must burn in the fire of an existence that is regenerating at every moment.

Secondly, we are introduced to the idealization of madness, to the belief that mad people are people who burn, people who experience a more genuine existence than the people who are called “normative” and “sane” by society. Third, we see that Kerouac feels that he himself is not a burning man, but a writer shackled by words, and hence existing always a step behind real existence.

All he can do is follow the real people, try to capture them in his writing, in a hope that in this way his art will get as close as possible to portraying real existence. The central character of the novel, therefore, is Cassady, and the book tries to capture his flame. The book is called On the Road, and it was meant to represent the new consciousness.

But Kerouac couldn’t find anyone who would publish it. The other hero of the segment is Allen Ginsberg, who is also described as a burning madman. But Ginsberg, unlike Cassady, also had a normative side, that wanted to become part of society and be a respected academic and poet. Following an incident in which his involvement with Burroughs’ criminal friends got him in trouble with the law, Ginsberg decided to “go straight”, and committed himself to a psychiatric ward, to the very thing that symbolized everything Beat consciousness was against.

The psychiatric ward, in the 1950s, was a notorious manifestation of the technocratic society. Since the prevailing belief in those years was that rational thought can decipher everything in the world, the human mind was also perceived as something that can be completely outlined in mathematical means, and science, therefore, was seen as being able to understand and cure any mental illness.

Psychiatrists were regarded as almost all-knowing, and anyone who suffered from a mental problem, which in the fifties was a code word for anyone who deviated from the social norms, was sent to them to get fixed, in techniques such as electric shocks to the brain, or, in more severe cases, lobotomy.

Ginsberg willfully submitted himself to this institute, but it was there, in the belly of the beast, that he found his mentor, the man who helped him discover his artistic path. His name was Carl Solomon, and he too committed himself, but not because he wanted to become normative. Solomon was marked in early age as a very gifted person, but he believed he will never be able to realize his full potential as long as his rational side controls him.

Hence, he started acting like a madman, and when he was brought before the psychiatrists, he demanded to be lobotomized, believing this will finally free his spirit from the rational side of his mind. But the doctors did not oblige, and instead kept him in the ward and tried different methods. But in that, they put him just in the right place to influence the great poet of Beat, and consequently the course of history.

Ginsberg realized that Solomon is another manifestation of Beat consciousness, a man who aspires to liberate the irrational side of the human spirit, and thus a model that can direct him. Inspired by Solomon, he gave up on his plan to conform to society’s norms, and instead left the ward and moved to San Francisco, the capital state of non-conformity, to become part of the poet community in the place.

On October 7th, 1955, the poet Kenneth Rexroth organized a poetry reading in San Francisco, providing a stage for new poets to present their work before the local bohemia. Young poets such as Michael McClure, Philip Whalen and Gary Snyder got up to read their poems, presenting a new sensibility that combined ecological consciousness, Zen Buddhist influences and other things.

But the show was stolen by Allen Ginsberg, whose poem Howl dazzled its listeners. The three part poem is dedicated to Carl Solomon, but stylistically it is inspired by Kerouac, and it articulates the philosophy of Beat. The first part opens with the assertion that he saw the best minds of his generation destroyed by madness, and proceeds with a flowing, rhythmic and mesmerizing portrayal of everything that the owners if these minds did to themselves in the past decade, going through self-beating, hobo life, drug abuse, sexual perversion, crime, bop ecstasy, intentional insanity, electric shocks, mystical quests and more, and describing it as a desperate and heroic search for salvation.

The second part opens with the question what made them be like this, and replies: Moloch! Moloch, the old god, is used here to symbolize the industrial-capitalist-militarist system, and the poem describes how it controls our minds, crushes our spirit and twists our consciousness. The third part poses the model of Carl Solomon, as the man who found the way to take us to the other side and save our spirit.

The song is tremendously powerful, but again, the words themselves are not the entire story, but also the way in which the song was performed. Egged on by Kerouac who was sitting in the crowd, Ginsberg entered a seemingly trance state, melting into the flow of his words and washing over the crowd with wave after wave.

His electric performance so exhilarated the poet community that many of them decided to adopt Beat as the center of their art. The new consciousness was beginning to spread. So, let’s summarize Beat consciousness: the aspiration of the Beat generation was to liberate the spiritual side of Man, which they claimed is being repressed by a society ruled by a cold technocratic rationality.

This society constructs our minds and determines our identity, and to be free we must first of all smash everything that this society instilled in us. There are several ways to do so, such as vagrant life, which prevents you from being attached to one place; lawless life, outside of established society; exposure to electric shocks to the brain; and of course mind altering drugs.

In that way you become free, and being free means letting your subconscious spontaneously guide you, employing rational thought only as an aid. When everyone operates like that, they let their unique inner self express itself, and then they feed each other with ideas, just like in a bebop jam session.

This is the ideal that the San Francisco Beat community aspired to, and they would sit in coffee shops, smoke cannabis, listen to poets read their poetry to a jazz backup, and embroil themselves in philosophical contemplations of existence. By 1957, their influence was beginning to be felt. Kerouac’s book finally got published, and became a hit with the youngsters, a book that defined a generation.

Another thing that happened that year was a first newspaper article on the Beat scene of San Francisco, whose author decided to name its members Beatniks, basing it on the new Soviet satellite Sputnik, since he claimed that they were both equally far out. As a result of this fame, the scene was joined by many other youngsters, who lacked the inner understanding of Beat, but just imitated the way of life of sitting in coffee shops and rolling joints.

A typical Beatnik look emerged, kind of a hybrid of the looks of European Existentialist and African-American bebop artists: shoulder length hair, goatee, shabby clothing. In conformed society, “Beatnik” became a synonym for anyone who didn’t want to fit in the system, and they were seen as bums who are only into sex and drugs.

Those who did have inner understanding of Beat felt that the original spirit of the community died, and they dispersed all over the country and started to look for new paths. And on that, in the coming episodes.

Source Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q7gJGMeTz2Q

More About The Beat Generation

“They got the beat they got the beat the beat. Yeah. They got the-“ Oh no, we’re not talking about that beat today. And we’re not talking about THAT generation! …or k-pop at all, Try something more like….

They call you Beat Generation. Yup. Lots and lots of jazz. Hello there! My name is Victoria Tran, and today, you and I will explore the core values and issues of this revolutionary movement in history known as the Beat Generation. Enjoy! The Beat Generation was a significant literary movement in history where American writers rose to fame in the 1950s as they rebelled against American Culture.

This rebellious generation marked the beginnings of a major cultural turning point in the United States. Headed by writers such as Jack Kerouac, William Burroughs, and Allen Ginsberg, the Beat movement infused literature with a new sense of adventure and spontaneity. Beat poets sought to liberate poetry from over-refinement and essentially bring it “back to the streets.

” Through poetry and other forms of literature, certain issues currently being ignored or condemned were brought into the light. The Beat Generation was a product of the times as the emergence of this movement was closely related to the social environment of the United States in the 1950s.

The end of World War II was the beginning of the Beat movement. Post world war II, America became the wealthiest country in the nation, thus experiencing a long economic boom from 1950-1970. The Middle class was growing at a high rate 60% of people were in a mid-class by the 1950s, and 90% of families owned TVs. For Americans at that time, eating a family dinner and watching TV every night was considered a conservative tradition.

However, this all soon changed during post-WWII. People were tired of their mundane routine. They felt “beaten” down by the traditional lifestyle. They wanted a new way to express themselves as individuals, yet they felt restricted. They felt trapped all because they felt pressured to conform to the perfect ideals of society.

And that’s when Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and William Burroughs debuted and stimulated the Beat Movement. The Beat s advocated personal liberation, purification, and illumination through the heightened sensory awareness that might be under the influence of drugs, sex, jazz, or the disciplines of Zen Buddhism.

This new light in history reached the teenagers who were looking for ways to get out of conforming with society. These teenagers essentially became the fundamental basis to the new generation as they broke away from their parents and defined themselves in new ways. Additionally, the Beat Generation was a time for Black artists to rise in society with their riveting music.

Another important moment in this generation was the idea of intermixing white artists, white audiences, black artists, and black audiences all as one. Following World War II was the Cold War. There appeared to be a political force known as McCarthyism in the U.S. Consequently, McCarthyism caused a great commotion within society, creating a sense of terror.

People were terrified of communists at the time, thus leading to falsely accusing communism of other people without any evidence. They were scared that the old couple living next door for 20 years was, in fact, a communist. Because of this fear, many people conformed to living the safe lifestyle highly encouraged by political figures *Eisenhower*.

Following exact orders by any political figure ensured safety within the American people and thusly became a norm. Thanks to McCarthyism, fear ruled in society. Thusly, conformity ruled in society. The growing constant fear of communism and political constraints began to dominate people’s lives, leading to Americans suffering from collective nervous breakdowns.

The Beat Generation thus rose to break away from conformity. Experimenting with drugs, exploring alternative forms of sexuality, becoming absorbed within the Eastern religious culture, and rejecting materialism were ways to distract Americans from their fears of communism and became a way to express individuality.

The new movement introduced new values and exposed values that were apparent in society, but people were just too scared to even talk about homosexuality, for example. Evidently, homosexuality was highly uncommon and frowned upon during this time; however, as the Beats attempted to revolutionize the traditional society morals, they also explored their sexualities.

Ginsberg questioned his sexuality yet was conflicted with his feelings since the idea of loving another man was completely far away from the traditional norms of society. He was not ready to admit his homosexuality fully, and for many years he would keep hoping that a woman or a psychoanalyst would cure it.

Needless to say, Kerouac helped his friend inflame his homosexuality. Overall, the beat generation promoted the exploration of alternate sexualities in society. The Beats used straightforward and provocative language as a new expressive technique within their culture due to the youth’s social, political, economic, and cultural status. They expressed their emotions and thoughts were very restricted, so The Beat Generation took some extreme ways to highlight their detachment from mainstream society.

People were so scared to touch on certain topics such as sex and homosexuality because they were educated under the old value system in schools and universities. Such topics were rejected by formal education. Thus, the passionate Beat Generation reflected on the many phenomenons within American culture and tried to propose solutions to social problems.

Rejecting mainstream American values, exploring alternate forms of sexuality (homosexuality), and experimenting with drugs and all things off the radar are things that make up the Beat Culture. Consequently, Beats were illustrated into cartoon characters called Beatniks to promote coffee houses and nightclubs, to help sell newspapers and clothing pieces.

However, through false advertising through the media, the Beats were viewed as rebels, delinquents. They were feared by society because people believed that Beats rape all women. They became an image of violence and juvenile delinquency. Pertaining to religion, most Beats were Buddhists thinking that Beats are both artists and foremost spiritual seekers.

Their views paralleled with Transcendentalists’ views to their understanding of the poet as prophet. The Beats were always on the road because they could not find God in the churches and synagogues. They saw human beings embedded in a vast network with other human beings, with animals, and with life itself.

Ultimately, the Beats glorified in eliminating distinctions between matter and spirit, divinity and humanity. At the core of the beat movement were authors Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and William Burroughs. These three are the most influential figures during the Beat Generation since they were basically the movement’s founding fathers.

They sought to instill a “New Vision” which involved unrestricted self-expression, psychedelic experiences as a means of perceiving truth, sexual experimentation, and the idea that art goes above and beyond traditional morals. Taking a look at some notable pieces of the Beat Generation, Jack Kerouac was the author of the best-selling book On the Road. This book describes a group of people traveling both geographically and spiritually in the country.

Kerouac described a life where there was no such thing as social pressures. Kerouac transformed literature forever through his freestyle manner of expressing his thoughts and feelings without plan or revision. William Burroughs reveals the dark world of the drug culture in his novel “Naked Lunch” lastly. Another significant figure of this literary movement was Allen Ginsberg.

With his noteworthy piece Howl, Ginsberg reveals the undeveloped part of America that exposes inappropriate topics of drug addicts, drifters, prostitutes, and swindlers and even uses slang and foul language that shocked the public. Though regarded as a “disgrace” of the 1950s, this poem reflects the instinctive anger and excitement of the youth, establishing itself as the Bible of the Beat Generation and the youth culture.

Beat Generation significantly impacted America in unimaginable ways. Because of the Beat Generation, people began to question the society they lived in and stepped out of it. The Beat Generation also set a precedent for many important things, such as the hippies and anti-war movement. In addition to that, their beliefs influence musicians such as Bob Dylan, The Beatles, and Elvis Presley.

Not only that, they helped bring awareness and battle racism in American. People like Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker, two American American Musicians, were inspired to play Jazz music without racial barriers. Thanks to the Beat Generation, people can now express themselves without any restrictions and fear.

Source Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oE3C0Q8YB7A

VW Beetle – Everything You Need to Know

 

Ladies and gentlemen…The Beatles! It began its life as a Dictator’s dream but became a symbol of peace and love worldwide. It’s a pop-culture Icon that shared the screen with such legends as Kevin Bacon, Optimus Prime, and Lindsay friggin’ Lohan.

And at one point, it was the best-selling car of all time. This is everything you need to know to get Up to Speed on the Volkswagen Beetle. It’s 1934, and Germany’s not doing so great. That summer, a failed artist named Adolf Hitler Seized power after Germany’s president Hindenburg died in his home at 87.

Hitler mandated that Germany have a state car. Something the average family could afford. The German government brought the Volkswagen concept to life in a race car engineer named Ferdinand Porsche. Porsche’s job was to make a small yet big vehicle to fit a whole family, simple enough to use and maintain anywhere and dependable enough that people could drive it practically forever.

The final body design reflected a trend at the time for sleek, round vehicles. But, unfortunately, that look didn’t leave much room for a trunk which didn’t matter because Porsche did that Porsche does. So he designed an air-cooled boxer engine and shoved it in the butt. But it turned out Old Ferdinand and Komenda might have taken a little inspiration from somewhere else: Czechoslovakia.

More specifically, from the small Czech Automaker, Tatra. They saw the Volkswagen and noticed it looked a little…familiar. So they sued ‘em! And what do you do when you’re a megalomaniacal dictator who gets sued over cars? That’s right’ you invade the country and take over the factory! So then, as the totally original design came together, it was time to start building it.

Technically, this was a government project under a division called: Strength Through Joy. Or in German, Kraftdurch Freude! Kraft Durch Freude! They built a brand new factory near Fallersleben. And would ya guess what they called the town they built around the new factory? The City of the Strength Through Joy at Fallersleben.

Nazis are so creative In 1938, the factory began rolling the first production cars off the line. The first units were all given to high-ranking military personnel, and the first convertible was given to Hitler himself. The thing is, though, this was 1938, and Hitler needed every vehicle factory in Germany to start exclusively producing military vehicles.

So with only 210 of the original KdF-Wagens built, the factory shut down production to focus on the military effort, which would go poorly for the factory, Germany, Europe, and the entire world. Cut to 1945! When the Second World War ended, Germany was a pile of rubble. The Fallersleben factory had been bombed.

The occupying British forces in charge of the area found the original production line parts for the KdF-Wagen. British car makers were invited to bid on the production line parts to mass-produce the vehicle back in the UK. But nobody wanted it! “Ok mates, ok chaps,” “I have production parts of a shitty little Nazi car,” “Going for one million pounds,” “One million pounds, can I get one million pounds?” “I don’t know about you mate, I think that car is ugly and slow” “I agree entirely mate” “Would you like to go get some tea and custards?” “Ooh I love tea and custards” “Let’s go to the Buckingham’s” “Buckingham’s is my favorite tea and custard shop” “So should we take your carriage?” “Right right” “Right right” In 1946, the factory was rebuilt after the city was renamed “Wolfsburg.”

yellow vw beetle automobileSince the British didn’t want to take it, the production line was reassembled, and cars started rolling. No more Strength Through Joy: the car was now simply the Volkswagen Type 1. Once again, the first models were given to military personnel, which was time for the occupying forces. Finally, in 1949, the British handed off control of the factory to an ex-Opel executive named Heinz Nordhoff.

With the factory rebuilt and Germany as a whole slowly coming back, the new company, called Volkswagen, was ready to live harmoniously with the rest of the world. So the Volkswagen Type 1 started selling around Western Europe, including its native Germany, where it first garnered the nickname ‘the Beetle.

‘ But Europe in the late ‘40s was still recovering from those of heads Nazis. If you wanted to sell to a market with a big population, lots of money, and roads that weren’t all blown up, you had to go to America. But at first, no dealership in the US wanted to touch the little car. The Beetle only had 24hp, it looked weird, and when you pressed the horn, you would hear Hitler screaming ‘Nein Nein Nein!’ Volkswagen’s first few efforts to sell in America went nowhere.

VW managed to get a few dealerships to take on their cars in 1950. And against all expectations, the little Bug started to sell. First, the car WAS cheap, much more affordable than most other cars on the market. Second, it was a rugged and reliable machine, even on unpaved roads. Third, if it did break, the repair was relatively simple and inexpensive.

The people’s car became the people’s choice. By 1955, eight years after going to market, Volkswagen had sold one million Beetles. Meanwhile, its simple construction made it easy to custom re-engineer at home. In particular, outdoorsy types stripped the Bug way down to make a tough, light vehicle for crossing sandy areas like deserts or beaches.

What did they call a Bug that drives on dunes? A dune buggy. Dune buggies became a pop sensation in their own right, especially in California surfer culture dude. They would cut off the car’s whole body, put a new fiberglass body on it, and rip up the beaches, pulling tail. “Hey guys, wanna hit up old man’s? I heard it’s got pretty good swells right now” “Who was that?” “That’s Jason, he’s like one of the best surfers on the whole beach” “He’s really cute,” “I know, real dreamboat,” “Yeah” “But you know what I heard?” “What?” “He has herpes.

beat up red vw beetle auto
This one was mine!

..” Suddenly, Beetles were cool. In 1972 Volkswagen produced its 15,007,034th Beetle. They threw a big ol’ party for it at the factory. Why did anybody care about this random number? Because that was exactly how many Ford Model Ts were ever produced. And that made the Beetle, the best-selling car of all time! Honestly, I bet it wasn’t much of a party “Congratulations on the big number!” “Thank you.

Back to work?” “Back to work” Even though sales were good. Its days were numbered. Volkswagen saw the need for a modernized replacement and released the Golf in 1974. The Golf was a small, cheap, and reliable people’s car but made nearly double the horsepower and, you know, wasn’t designed by the most notorious mass murderer in the history of the planet.

Buyers around the world shifted from the Beetle to the Golf pretty quickly. And by ‘around the world,’ I mean ‘Everywhere except Mexico and Brazil,’ where apparently the people loved the Beetle so much that they refused to stop buying it. As a result, the Beetle was produced in Mexico until 2003! In the end, the Volkswagen Type 1 sold 21 million units worldwide.

And its core tenets of simplicity, dependability, and affordability inspired a whole new category of cars from makers around the world. So in 1998, Volkswagen decided to bring the icon back to life, in the first major refresh and update in the Beetle’s history. As it was called, the New Beetle was a more modern machine with 115hp and a nicer interior.

Underneath, it was basically a Golf. The New Beetle captured interest the world over, and pretty soon, a shiny Beetle was a common sight once again. Then, in 2001, Volkswagen decided to really push the car and made the limited edition RSi, which got 221hp. This lead to a full production run of the Turbo S, which featured ‘ you guessed it, ‘a turbocharged engine capable of 180hp.

1 point 80! Never lose! And Volkswagen still produces the New Beetle today. The Volkswagen Beetle is the little car that could, the pipe dream of a tyrant that charms the whole world and becomes a symbol of love. Whether riding around on roads or dunes, it could be found in nearly every country on earth.

brown vw beetle automobileIt was a sales sensation; it’s still a pop culture icon. But, no matter how far it’s gone, it has never forgotten its roots. Well, I mean, most of them. So shout out to Skillshare for sponsoring this video! Are you struggling to make a new year’s resolution? Maybe you’re sitting there on your butt thinking, “well gall dang, I wish I could effortlessly present everything about cars off the top of my like this guy does! I wish I had some kind of marketable skill like that smart, handsome, sexy James Pumphrey…” Well, you’re in luck! Because Skillshare is a thing, They’re here to help you learn to be a better you for 2018 and beyond! Skillshare is an online learning community with over 18,000 professional and easy-to-understand classes in film, writing, design, and much more! Premium Membership gives you unlimited access to high-quality classes from experts working in their fields, so you can improve your skills, unlock new opportunities, and do the work you love.

For example, this class by Soledad O’Brien- she’ll teach you powerful strategies for crafting great content! Just like your boy, Jimmy to the Pump… James Pumphrey Skillshare is also more affordable than most learning platforms out there: an annual subscription is less than $10 a month. All you have to do is click the link below to get the first 3 months of Skillshare for just 99¢, or you could type it in but however you get there… go sign up at this link.

This offer is only good through the end of January! You know how many new year’s resolutions you could tackle in 3 months?! You could start your own frickin’ channel with all your new skills. So don’t wait, dummy! Do it. Do it! Get skilled with Skillshare! I freakin’ dare you dude. This is everything you need to know about the Volkswagen Beetle Bug, love bug. Oh, there goes a beetle! Why is that a thing? Why does the beetle come on the flower on the dashboard? Do they still? It’s stupid.

I’d put weed in it. We made a cool video with a cool Beetle. It’s called “Quantum Drift.” You should watch it on Youtube. How many people have you ever fit in a Volkswagen Beetle? How many Volkswagen Beetle have you ever fit in a person? Send me a dollar for my Lambo. I still want one.

Oh, follow me on Instagram: @JamesPumphrey If I get 10,000 followers, I will pick one at random and send them something weird It probably won’t be car-related, and it might be perishable, and it might have been grown on my body. Got a lot of new shows coming out: Mondays, we got “Wheelhouse,” Tuesdays, we’ve got “Matt Field’s FD corvette build,” Wednesdays, we have “Science Garage” with Bart, Thursdays, we’ve got this f’in’ show, and Fridays, we have “Tony’s Top 10”.

Watch all of them. It’s all funny. It’s all educational; it’s all Donut. Those guys are all my friends. If those shows are successful, then I’m successful. Hitler is probably the only guy that I hate more than my dad. Hmm…I don’t hate my dad; I miss him. I don’t miss Hitler at all.

Peace, frickin’ love, and metal.

Source Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qbL28ENuQvk

 

 

Tie Dye, Official Dress of a Generation

Multi colored tie dye shirts
Tie-dye shirts

Tie-dye is the unofficial uniform of the Golden Age of Rock. It wasn’t new in the ’60s but quickly became an artistic form of protest. The establishment dress in the 50s was suit and tie for men, with dresses or skirts for women. Hair was neat, cut close for men, and conservative cuts for women. Everything was orderly and symmetric. It was a great target for rebellion, and tie-dye with its bright colors and randomness was how to do it.

Tie-dye wasn’t new; it’s just a modern term for an old process. Archeologists have found remnants of tie-dye material dating back well over a thousand years. Finds have been reported in China, Japan, India, and all of the way to Peru. The earliest date back as far as the year 500 in Peru and 600 in Japan and China. With this much geographic diversity, it was probably in use long before these finds.

Rit Dye and Tie-Dyeing

Most clothing in the 60s was store-bought, and sales at the Rit Dye company were going down.  Previously, Rit was a department store staple.  Don Price at Rit came up with the idea of liquid dyes that were easier to use artistically.   He promoted the new dyes to artists in Greenwich Village and promoted several of them to bring their works to Woodstock.

tie dye swirl pattern
Tie-dye swirl pattern

There are lots of special techniques used to produce colorful patterns. All involve letting the dyes reach some of the cloth and blocking it from others. As the name implies, simply tying the cloth in knots forms basic patterns. Dye reaches the exposed parts but not the part inside the knot. Different types of knots or bunching the fabric produces different patterns. Stripes come from vertical folds, circles come from a single bunch, and marble comes from wrapping the entire garment in one big ball. Swirls and geometrics come from making a bunch within a bunch.

It was a combination of the growing protest movement in the late 60s along with a growing Indian influence that drove tie dye’s popularity.  Once started, the Rit Dye company pushed it along with a marketing campaign in Greenwich Village and recruited decorators Will and Eileen Richardson.  Their dyed fabric ideas were picked up by the designer house Halston, and the Richardsons were honored with a Coty Award for”major creativity in fabrics.”

Janis Joplin appeared at Woodstock in a Tie-dyed dress. Joe Cocker and Mama Cass wore tie-dyed clothes also.  John Sebastian was tie-dyeing his underwear.  By 1970, mainstream magazine Vogue featured model Maria Benson in a Halston kaftan.  And counterculture band Grateful Dead picked it up as their official uniform.

Flower Power – Make Love, Not War

Flower Power was a hippie concept in the mid 60s that made it’s way into mainstream American culture. The phrase is credited to poet Allen Ginsburg to express opposition to the Vietnam war, and later as a symbol of the non-violence ideology, but it was probably rooted in a 1961 Pete Seeger folk song:

Flower Power by Washington Star photographer Bernie Boston, was nominated for the 1967 Pulitzer Prize
Flower Power by Washington Star photographer Bernie Boston, was nominated for the 1967 Pulitzer Prize

Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the flowers gone?
Girls have picked them every one
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Flower Power and it’s companion, Make Love, Not War, became the antiwar slogans of the times, and were given a boost by a famous photo from the 60s shows a teenager placing flowers in the barrels of National Guardsmen rifles.  Flowers were the symbol for Passive Resistance and non violence.

Ginsburg coined the phrase in a 1965 article “How to Make a March Spectacle”.  The concept was that protestors, rather than appearing threatening, should hand out “masses of flowers” to the police, authorities, and spectators.  The protests would then seem more like street theater and become more appealing to the mainstream.

Abbie Hoffman added to Flower Power during his 1967 Workshop in Nonviolence:”The cry of ‘Flower Power’ echoes through the land. We shall not wilt. Let a thousand flowers bloom.”

And of course, John Phillips of The Mamas & The Papas wrote San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in your Hair) which is known as the unofficial anthem of the counterculture movement”.

At first it was just hippies and hippie wanna-bees that wore flowers but it rapidly spread mainstream.  The late 60s saw flowers from Flower Power merged into pschedelia and flowers began showing up everywhere. Pop artist Peter Max added day glow colors to a stylized design and flowers went mainstream.

The Human Be-In

Human Be-In poster
Human Be-In poster

The Human Be-In happened on January 14, 1967 in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, and was a celebration of the 60s counterculture and hippie movement.

The Be-In was preceded by the Love Pageant Rally, a much smaller event in October 1966 that was staged to protest the banning of LSD, and it was a predecessor to the famous Summer of Love that which brought the hippieculture to national attention and international recognition to Haight Ashbury.

The Human Be-In was announced on the cover of the first issue of the San Francisco Oracle as “A Gathering of the Tribes for a Human Be-In.” Entertainment included Timothy Leary with his his famous phrase “Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out”, Richard Alpert (soon to be more widely known as ‘Ram Dass’), and poets like Allen Ginsberg, who chanted mantras, and Gary Snyder. Security was provided by The Hells Angels, and a host of local rock bands such as Grateful Dead and Quicksilver Messenger Service provided the music. Of course there were plenty of drugs, Owsley “Bear” Stanley provided “White Lightning” LSD to the public.

Allen Cohen, one of the founders of the San Francisco Oracle, later commented on how it brought together philosophically opposed factions of the San Francisco-based counterculture: on one side, the Berkeley radicals, who were tending toward increased militancy in response to the U.S. government’s Vietnam war policies, and, on the other side, the Haight-Ashbury hippies, who urged peaceful protest.

Total attendance was estimated at 20,000 to 30,000, and it set the stage for the larger Summer of Love that brought people in from all over the country and made Haight Ashbury famous.