I’m in my fifties, and like many others, 1967 was such a memorable year. I was lucky to be in London, and I lived through and experienced many of the seminal moments.
Although music, fashion and, indeed, life was obviously changing with the advent of the Beatles in '63, I first noticed that things were getting a little ‘strange’ in autumn 1966. (Tomorrow Never Knows).
From then through winter '66 and spring '67, there was a magic in the air. We were experiencing things we’d never felt before, we were wrapped up with each other in real kinship. One example of ‘us versus them’ was when I was walking in London in all my flower child finery (flowers in my hair, kaftan, long hair), and I passed a matronly, tweedy old woman who looked me up and down, and spat out “your type of filth should be wiped off the streets.” You knew which side you were on in those days!
We really did believe that love and peace would win, and that we would burst through the clouds into a world of eternal sunshine (where flowers would grow incredibly high).
Summer '67 was a culmination. But the trouble with culminations is where do you go after you’ve peaked? And so it was in autumn '67 (the death of the hippy, the shutting down of pirate radio*), the flowers dying, the leaves turning brown. We *knew *that it was ending, and the feeling of sadness and the terrible feeling of loss was almost unbearable. Think of the line through Revolver, Sgt Pepper/Magical Mystery Tour, and the comedown of the White Album. (I’m not talking quality here, just the innovation and extravagance of the psychedelic albums). The same with the Byrds: the sparkle of Younger Than Yesterday, the gleaming depth of Notorious Byrd Brothers, and then the back to roots Sweetheart of the Rodeo.
Does anyone else feel the same: the feeling of nostalgia in late '67 for a time just passed?
*Pirate radio stations were ships in the North Sea that broadcast American style formats and were beyond government control. John Peel’s Perfumed Garden was an unsurpassed example. Imagine (American readers) that your favourite stations were closed down overnight. That’s what happened to us.