The song has been running in my head since I heard it early this morning as I tromped up and down the hills around my foothills home. The pain of the steep hills has been replaced by the pain of my broken mind. I’m not depressed, am I? “Children what’s that sound, everybody look what’s going down” reminds me of a flushed toilet with its contents circling before disappearing. Maybe I am depressed. Thank you, Buffalo Springfield and my playlist.
The song became an anthem for the anti-war crowd in the late Sixties and early Seventies but was not written as such. It was written to protest a curfew put into place around the famed Whiskey a Go-Go, a West Hollywood music venue. The status quo (read conservative adults) had become upset about the noise, loitering and traffic congestion caused by crazy kids high on life, “Young people speakin’ their minds, are getting so much resistance far behind.” The culture clash became known as the Sunset Strip curfew riots and featured counterculture clashes with the Los Angeles Police.
My thoughts, my thoughts…. In the late Sixties, I was not a member of the counterculture. I was still the proud, flat-top sporting, John Wayne adoring, “my country right or wrong” conservative. I’m still proud just not as conservative as I once was. My country can be and has been wrong.
I grew out of my flat-top during my high school and college years but no one would have confused me with a long-haired hippie freak. I ignored protest music for the soulful sounds of rhythm and blues and Beach Music, and bells and Jesus sandles for Weegins and stifly starched khakis. Afterall if it didn’t effect me why should I worry…well, I’m worried.
Because of my worry I have become the aging, white-bearded, balding hippie, embracing those things I should have embraced fifty years ago, although I still toke on cigars rather than weed and find the conservative drug of choice, beer, and Jack Daniels, more palatable…beer and Jack Daniels separately, not mixed. Certain libations transcend social and political orientations.
I had flirted with the left but hadn’t gone ape-shit liberal until my Autumn years when I found Jimi Hendrix and Janice Joplin more in line with my musical and political taste than Florida-Georgia Line. Country? That ain’t country.
It always begins with the devil’s music…even if it was from the Sixties. Having ignored it in my youth it was as if I had discovered Coronado’s Seven Cities of Gold. First, it’s Rock-n-Roll and before you know it, sex and drugs along with a good dose of liberalism are rearing their radical heads.
I’m a little long of tooth for “free love” and “psychedelics” but my middle of the road liberalism seemed to fit better with what I believe are the ills facing our world; global climate change, hunger, lack of clean water, wage inequality, unchecked capitalism, and a government that reminds me more of a Russian oligarchy. Funny…my change coincided with the birth of grand children.
My thoughts ramble, I am astounded. “Something’s happin’ here, what it is ain’t exactly clear.” Those people I considered liberal in my childhood and my early adulthood have become the status quo of today, the conservative adults wondering what has happened to the youth of today…or their aging hippie teacher.
This from the former blue jean, mini-skirted, halter topped or John Travolta “catch me, f@#$ me” leisure suited crowd, now nattily dressed in their dark blue suits and red ties. They are now the conservatives resisting social and political change, many to the point of embracing any conspiracy related to the evils hiding under their beds.
My “outlaw”, dope-smoking brother even became the paragon of the conservative status quo, forgoing Seventies drug use and briefly flirting with Tea Party politics. Well, he is still a tee shirt, cargo pants kind of guy. At least he wears his UNC cap “fore and aft.” I believe it might have something to do with marriage and business ownership. Settling down?
My characterization is unfair, my brother is the epitome of the too-often quoted, “social liberal, fiscal conservative.” He helped start and continues to support a food kitchen and other social programs.
The give away is his musical tastes. They are “neo-hippie” and “Americana”…kind of like mine. He doesn’t think modern country is country either. It seems his square pegs won’t fit in my round holes…maybe I should take a look at my own square pegs.
Truth? We don’t stray far from each other’s political or social beliefs. We enjoy many of the same things, and share a live and let live attitude. I just find it necessary to give grief to my younger brother.
What amazes…and concerns me are the protests popping up. I should say the types of protests. Stanchly conservative, dare I say right-wing reactionaries…protestors dressed in camo and battle gear, sporting assault-style weapons have replaced hippies putting flowers down the barrel of rifles. What?
Make Love, not War does not seem to be their mantra. I think the lyrics from Dylan’s All Along the Watchtower, might fit them better.“All along the watchtower, princes kept the view. While all the women came and went, barefoot servants, too.” It seems they want to keep the masses in view…and under their thumb.Based on Isaiah, I like the Hendrix version the best.
It was just a few years, months ago, the same folk were shaming “liberal” teachers for walking out of their classes for more pay and smaller class sizes, global climate change idiots led by a sixteen year old, railing against Black Lives Matter, and cheering when Native Americans were arrested or water blasted for protesting an oil pipeline through their native lands. Oil pipe…peace pipe…hum…water pipe.
The hippie legions from fifty years ago are either rolling in their graves or wondering what kind of bad shit was in those edibles or ‘srooms.
“What a field day for the heat. A thousand people in the street. Singing songs and a carryin’ signs. Mostly say, “hooray for our side.”
It’s time we stopped. Hey, what’s that sound? Everybody look what’s going down.”
Stephen Stills was quoted saying, “It (For What it’s Worth) turned out to be indicative of what was about to happen.” And I would add, “Continues to happen.” The only changes are the participants and the battlefields they argue over.
“There’s battle lines being drawn and nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong”
Added note: I don’t want to be accused of viewing history through rose colored granny glasses. Not all left led protest were peaceful and the violence was not necessarily prompted by the minions of the status quo. At least the police didn’t face protestors with AR-15s.
I decided to include All Along the Watchtower….
YouTube. Jimi Hendrix live in Munster, 1/14/69
Buffalo Springfield, YouTube Vid of them at the Hollywood Palace in 1967.
The Flower Power photograph is by Bernie Boston, taken during “March on The Pentagon”, 21 October 1967.
Featured image is of protesters of the Michagin shelter in place order.
10 thoughts on “For What It’s Worth”
Great music and great memories….i was a long haired hippie vet protesting war….the photo of the protesters….no cops….and yet when the Indians protests the invasion of their land by a pipeline the Nat Guard and cops and military vehicles and all the trappings….why is that? chuq
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I think we both know the reason for that. Thanks.
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Be well….be safe chuq
Well this is a post to ponder for me. I was at university in the late 60s and taking part in sit ins and passive protests. I really thought the world would be a better place and peace would win out. But now there is so much animosity, division, and outright intolerance. I am sorry to say this but i am glad I’m Canadian. Today I watched our minister of Defense speak about the helicopter crash that killed 6 Canadians soldiers. He is a Sikh . In Toronto the call to prayer is being broadcast over loud speakers from the mosques for Ramadan as no one can go to the mosques I love that and having a defense minister who wears a turban. It gives me hope for a more tolerant and inclusive future. Apologies for this long comment.
I have hope too but believe we are presently unwilling to “Give Peace a Chance.” We’ve become hurry for me and the hell with everyone else…present company excluded of course. No need to apologize.
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A great and timely write, Don.
The 2 songs you chose to accompany your words are so fitting.
The protestors today concern me. I understand their basic concerns, but right now I’m in the let’s protect and save as many people as we can mode.
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I’m just trying to live long enough to see my grandbabies become grand children. If everyone would follow the guides laid out there would be no need for protests…unfortunately they don’t. Thanks!
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I understand. I agree.
And I am doing the same thing. So many children have already lost their grandparents and great-grandparents…some have lost their parents. 😦
I never knew the back story on For What It’s Worth, very interesting. Thought-provoking post, seems my life-journey is very similar to yours. The protests today trouble me.
Glad to know there are allies. Thank Peg!