Monday, January 16, 2006

1969.....1979.....


Iggy Pop from 1978, actually. The "1969" is a reference to the Stooges song of the same name... and 1979 just takes us ahead ten years.

If you weren't born then, or if you were very young, there's a lot of stuff about the popular culture that birthed punk rock that you don't know. 1969 heralded the end of the peace and love decade in a terrible way... right after the Woodstock Festival - three days of peace, love and music over there in the farmlands of New York, the West Coast had a series of misfortunes that would help set the tone for the 70s becoming the "me" decade...movie star Sharon Tate and her friends were viciously murdered in their home by a cult that followed a charismatic but evil man, Charles Manson. He claimed Beatles songs drove him to do it. To add insult to injury to the Beatles, the Los Angeles County prosecutor who tried this case wrote his memoirs and called the book "Helter Skelter." Sorry Paul...

Then at the end of the year, to close the decade with even more ironic horror, the Rolling Stones gave a free concert at Altamont, near San Francisco, where Hells Angels caused mayhem near the stage, killing a young man in the process. They weren't the only perpetrators of violence...cops beat up Jefferson Airplane member Marty Balin. All that was memorialized in Al Maysles film Gimme Shelter.

What was happening in this new decade, the 70s? There was a war in Viet Nam that we were losing. We got out in 1975. Disgracefully. Discontent spawned great works of art, from protest songs to movies like Apocalypse Now. We eventually voted out conservative war mongers and got a peanut farmer in the White House.

But all the peace love and brotherhood of the 60s took its toll on those who tried to make it work on a hippie, rock n roll or socialist level... people did hard time for exercising their inalienable rights. Guys ranging from the MC5, White Panthers, and to the Chicago Seven which included the future Mr. Jane Fonda (remember "Hanoi Jane?") and politician, Tom Hayden.

And that was all happening in the USA.

If you were in England, your economy was in the toilet. You were on the dole and you were years and sometimes decades ahead of our stateside youth spokespersons when you declared there was "No Future" and you were "Bored with the USA" even though you admitted that "England's dreaming..."

If you were in New York, your city's economy was also in the toilet and President Carter gave you short shrift, refusing to bail you out. You belonged to the "Blank Generation."

If you were in LA, your economy was OK, but you were terrorized by the Hillside Strangler and your governor was dating pop singer, Linda Ronstadt. You claimed "We Don't Need the English," but damn you liked their punk rock. You observed the "Trouble at the Cup" and read "Adult Books."

In 1979, the United States got to a point where it was rationing gas... the price was jacked way up to about 79 cents per gallon (believe me, at the time, it was HUGE.) You could only purchase gas on alternate days, which were determined by whether or not your license plate had an odd or even number.

I don't know how all this affected you or your fave punk band... but it was all happening that way in the 70s...

1 comment:

Dave S. said...

All so true...which leads us to today...there's a different lousy war going on...the economy sucks...the promises of the past haven't lived up to the future...so where's the new music revolution?! Where are the kids who wanna kick it out?!! Where I ask ya??