Close friends know, some of them all too well, that I’m a little obsessed with music history, especially the music of my early life. Some of them have heard me go on and on about one year in particular, a year that, for my money, is the most important year in my music’s development: 1967.
1967 was – well, I really COULD go on about it, and as you see, I have – but it was crucial. It marked a shift from pop to rock, from singles to albums, from AM radio to FM, from black and white to color. It saw the recorded debuts of, among many others, Grateful Dead, The Velvet Underground, Leonard Cohen, Janis Joplin, Fleetwood Mac, The Doors, Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix, The Bee Gees, Cream, Buffalo Springfield, Dolly Parton, Sly and the Family Stone…I could go on. Most of what we know as classic rock – and, for that matter, funk, which was invented in 1967 by James Brown, and soul, which was codified by a resurgent Aretha Franklin – began in 1967.
I wrote a fat book proposal years back, and I even got an agent. But he couldn’t sell it, and so I gave up. But music is my passion, forever and always, and so I decide this year to rewrite the book as a website, going week by week, putting up a post each week this year to match each week that year. It’s a hell of a lot of work, because I had only written about a third of the book, and it all needs to be rewritten to fit this format.
So, ladies and gentleman, let me (finally) present music1967.com!
But I think it’s worth doing. I’ve got a lot else going on, but going back 53 years is a wonderful escape from COVID-19, and takes me out of the concerns of the moment. I love history, I love music and I love writing – and I love telling people about 1967. I didn’t want to announce the website until I’d gotten a few months up, so there would be a good chunk to read. But with today’s post, I have completed all the way through the first quarter, and I can’t hold it back any longer.
So, here’s the introductory post, which takes you to the page and gives you an idea of why I’m doing this.
Tomorrow, as with every Wednesday, I will post Week 14, which concerns Paul McCartney’s flight to California to play the acetates of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band to his friends in LA, friends like Brian Wilson, and to check out the new scene in San Francisco. Last week’s page was about the first New York appearances by The Who and Cream, performing on a spring break package show put together by Murray the K. The week before explores the week that the all-stars of Stax/Volt Records – Otis Redding, Carla and Rufus Thomas, Sam and Dave – left the segregated South for the first time, and were treated like real human beings during their package tour in Europe.
Each week focuses on a particular event, or cluster of events, so it tells a story as it goes along. It’s not just lists of anniversaries, but a 52 week narrative, as best I can put it together. Considering how much I’m trying to cover, it’s a juggling act, and balls will be dropped. But it’s fun for me, and I hope it’s fun for you. I guarantee you a LOT of “I didn’t know that!” moments.
I built the site myself, so there are technical aspects I’ve not yet figured out, especially with everything else going on right now. But I’m taking the long view: My plan is to build this site over the years, adding more and more links (right now there are a number of YouTube videos inserted), to make an enduring monument to this amazing year. Still, this year, I will be putting up each week as the calendar rolls by, so you can experience 1967 in something approaching “real time.”
I know that this is not very important given the times we’re living in; but we all need our diversions, and this is mine. For my money, nothing gives perspective to the present like a good dose of the past: Just consider that it wasn’t until 1967 that interracial marriage and BEING gay and even written porn were legal. It wasn’t until 1967 that a black man ran a U.S. city, or sat on the Supreme Court. PBS was founded in 1967. And it was only in 1967 that the first synthesizer was put up for sale. If that doesn’t do it for you, January 1, 1967 saw the first Super Bowl!
It’s nice to experience a historical period when you know how it ends; we can’t say that about 2020. But we can about 1967, even though the cultural and especially musical waves it birthed continue to lap against our shores to this very day.
So, here’s my offering. Please forgive its many flaws, and enjoy it for what it is: a labor of love.