Second wind: 1960s’ deja vu at Collins concert
Old hippies never die. They just go to Judy Collins concerts. Collins is a dejà vu folk-singing goddess, still able to move the age-hardened to tears.
She’s 68 years old and still touring. We sat hushed as Judy told us if we remembered the 1960s, we hadn’t been there. She said she thought back then that someone named Bob Dylan was an awful singer and would never go anywhere. She also told us she was on Social Security. She wanted to get it before the money ran out.
Listening to her sing Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now” put me and the others in their relaxed-fit jeans back in a 1960s’ mood, 40 years wiped off the calendar for just an evening as she sang:
“I’ve looked at life from both sides now, from up and down, and still somehow, it’s life’s illusions I recall. I really don’t know life at all.”
Judy sang sentimental pieces that made me regret the cynicism that’s encrusted my soul since the long-ago days of flower power. Did you get the same spiritual barnacles, the ones that settled in after we all came to realize that the Age of Aquarius was something like Santa ” a really nice idea but get over it, dude?
The theater was sold out, and I was surprised that so many had survived. I thought for sure a whole generation would have been wiped out from patchouli poisoning. We burned enough incense in one week in 1972 to set off the all fire detectors in Madison Square Garden.
Thoughts at a concert
Nothing like music to release the nostalgia you didn’t even know you had. Of all things, I started to remember the transcendental meditation movement where, if you didn’t have a mantra, you were nowhere, man. Encounter groups met, preferably in Big Sur, but someone’s crash pad would do. People hurt each other’s feelings on purpose and called it the human potential movement.
I remembered that you were also nowhere if you had never been to EST, Erhard Seminar Training. So back then, I was nowhere, an EST holdout. No one, not even Werner Erhard, was going to tell me when to go to the bathroom. (And let me know how you make out when you try to explain EST to your grandchildren. If you find a way to not sound like a loony, write.)
Truth to tell, I was never a hippie. Closest I got: I went to see the show “Hair” in San Francisco three times. It was all those naked men on the stage, I guess, though I certainly had some philosophical interest in the ideas presented about war and universal love. I figured going to see the show was my contribution to world peace.
Words for the wise
Back then, we could not imagine the future we have now. Few of us thought that, after Vietnam, we would get into another faraway war with a different name and a different excuse. And few imagined that so soon would we again need to reclaim power from the establishment, they who seem to look at life from only one side now ” theirs. They really don’t know life at all.
Me, I’m waiting for the mass demonstrations to begin. Power to the people who are not being heard. Just, this time, hold the patchouli.
And maybe I am just a clueless counterculture geezer about to fall flat on my ashram when I have these thoughts during a Judy Collins concert. Or maybe, there really are some ideas worth rescuing from the past, and one of them is named peace.
Mel Walsh is a local gal with a degree in gerontology, the study of older people, but she has learned far more about aging from life itself. Take her Web site out for a spin, http://www.melwalsh.com. Buy her book, Hot Granny, and enjoy the giggles.
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