The year that put dents in my head – and filled them with music

Collage: Paul Townsend,Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Collage: Paul Townsend,Creative Commons, some rights reserved

I was in junior high in 1967, at that proverbial “impressionable age.” And it was a year that would leave dents in anybody’s head. Fifty years later, it seems we are still working out the karma of that bombshell year.

On the one hand, it was a year of rage and violence and hate. The Vietnam War was at its peak, and anti-war protests were escalating along with it. It was the year of the Six-Day War in the Middle East and the start of the Cultural Revolution in China. Racial strife tore apart the cities of Detroit, Newark, Washington, Buffalo, and Tampa and Milwaukee.

On the other hand, it was the year of the Summer of Love and a profound countercultural reaction against nearly all the “isms,” of American life. Long unquestioned social, sexual, artistic, political, economic, religious and family norms were all crash-tested in the somewhat addled laboratory of “youth culture.”

And it was a great year for the science and tech geek. We were headed to the moon, soft-landing Surveyor 3 there, and Mariner 5 flew by Venus. The first pulsar was discovered. The first heart transplants were done. The first ATM was put into use. And 50 million people, including me, glimpsed a future world at Expo ’67 in Montreal.

But fifty years later, it’s the music of 1967 that sticks most in my head. It was the year the Beatles released Sgt. Pepper’s and Magical Mystery Tour. Jimi Hendrix and The Doors and Pink Floyd and the Velvet Underground and Fleetwood Mac and Fairport Convention all debuted that year. It was the year of the Monterey Pop Festival. Can anyone name another year to top that line-up?

While 2017 is also shaping up to be a year that will leave dents in the head, for a lot of reasons, I just can’t imagine what 2017 songs will be bouncing around in the heads of sixty-somethings in 2067.

The floor is open for nominations in a comment below.


7 Comments on “The year that put dents in my head – and filled them with music”

  1. Mike Hinman says:

    Excellent review. Brings back memories. Almost 50yrs later, Barry Maguire’s Eve of Destruction is just as prophetic.

  2. Robin McClellan says:

    Well, if my friend in high school is any barometer, they’ll be listening to much of the same. When we were driving the other day, the play list included Pink Floyd, America, and Blind Faith.

  3. Richard L Daly says:

    The Year of the Summer of Love – indeed. My brother proposed and married the love of his life … shipped out to Viet-Nam. The steel-pot he donned kept off the physical ‘dents in the head’ … but not the emotional ones as effectively. Today (July 15), they are celebrating their 50th. I was a junior undergrad, visited expo’67 and had my own personal copy of Mao’s LittleRedBook , but as they say ” If you can remember the 60’s, you weren’t there!”
    Hey, I’m here, and I do remember … except where I put that book.
    Thanks, Dale!

  4. Chris Coffin says:

    1967, 1968, 1969 … they seem to run into each other. The riots, assassinations, and music. And it was not just the United States. I remember meeting a friend who had spent a year studying in Europe and asking whether he’d kept up with the riots and protests in the U. S. He said “yes”, and asked whether I tracked the riots in Paris.

    I’m a decade or so older than you, Dale and was in my early 20s, a young husband, and father. I was trying to adapt to “the establishment”, support a family, and become a functioning adult. To this day I suspect that my children don’t appreciate how important the civil rights movement, the anti-establishment protests, and the music innovations of the 1960s were. But humans tend to be imprinted by events in their late teens. They have an out-sized importance for each of us.

    Imagine how 2017 will look decades from now.

  5. Jethro Tull were formed in 1967!

    As for what 2017 songs will be remembered in 2067, I’m glad I won’t be around to see (or hear) that. Once my lifestyle changed to no longer being beholden to detailed traffic reports for a daily commute, I thankfully gave up being beholden to commercial radio.

  6. Kevin says:

    I think you and I are of the same “vintage” and spiritual grounding Dale. The music of the 60’s and 70’s provided the soundtrack for a period of social and political upheaval that we will sadly not see the likes of again. Many of the most moving songs and musicians of that time still have great relevance today, and I’m often heartened to realize that my grown children enjoy “our” music as well. But I was lamenting with a friend the other day that today’s young adults don’t seem to have much of anything of a similar vein to inspire and bring them together to dispel the growing selfishness and materialism that dominates our society today. I hope it’s not just old age on my part, but I don’t see anything in contemporary music that can match Dylan, The Beatles, CSNY, Moody Blues, Quicksilver, Joni Mitchell, Joan Baez, The Eagles, The Stones, and on and on. I do believe there are still a lot of great contemporary artists out there, but where are the ones who are going to call our political leaders and fellow citizens to task to get this great country back on the road to moral and spiritual greatness?

  7. Pete Klein says:

    Ah, oh well, here goes.
    The music was good and good portion of it remains good. At the time, I liked the Beatles more than the Stones but now find myself liking the Stones more than the Beatles.
    Summer of Love? Highly overrated and a bit of a misnomer.
    Best thing about 1968 was meeting my wife and getting married the next year, 1968.
    Looking back, so much of it was so phony. But it was fun.

Comments are closed.