Life in America has been molded by many factors including those of the hippie movement in the Sixties. With the development of new technology, a war against Communism, and an internal war against racial injustice, a change in America was sure to happen. As the children of the baby boom became young adults, they found far more discontent with the world around them. This lead to a subculture labeled as hippies, that as time went one merged into a mass society all its own. These people were upset about a war in Vietnam, skeptical of the present government and its associated authority, and searching for a place to free themselves from society’s current norms, bringing the style they are known for today. "Eve of destruction; no satisfaction...and a third motif went rippling through the baby-boom culture: adhesive love" (Gitlin 200). The freedom they found came with the help of drugs. Marijuana evolved from its"black and Hispanic, jazz-minded enclaves to the outlying zones of the white middle class young" (Gitlin 200). This new drug allowed a person to open their mind to new understandings and philosophies. But it wasn’t just marijuana that opened the minds of the youth; a new drug known as LSD came into existence:
Depending on who was doing the talking, [LSD] is an intellectual tool to explore psychic ‘inner space,’ a new source of kicks for thrill seekers, the sacramental substance of a far-out mystical movement- or the latest and most frightening addiction to the list of mind drugs now available in the pill society being fashioned by pharmacology (Clark 59). With politicians and law enforcement officers looking on the drug as a danger to society, many expert chemists "set up underground laboratories and fabricated potent and pure LSD...kept their prices down, gave out plenty of free samples, and fancied themselves dispensers of miracles at the service of a new age" (Gitlin 214).
It wasn’t just the youth in America who was using these drugs. A statistic from 1967 states that "more American troops in Vietnam were arrested for smoking marijuana than for any other major crime" (Steinbeck 97). The amazing statistic wasn’t the amount of soldiers smoking marijuana; it was the amount of soldiers America was sending over to fight a war that nobody understood.
Between 1965 and 1967, troops "doubled and redoubled and redoubled twice more" (Gitlin 261). In a letter to President Johnson sent by student leaders from 100 American colleges and universities and published in Time, this problem was addressed: Significant and growing numbers of our contemporaries are deeply troubled about the posture of their Government in Viet Nam. Even more are torn-by reluctance to participate in a war whose toll keeps escalating, but about whose purpose and value to the U.S. they remain unclear. With the fear of being sent to Vietnam, many potential draftees looked for a place to run. Some went to Mexico, some went to Europe, some went to Canada, and some just burnt their draft-cards to resist the draft. For those who went to Canada, they received assistance from the Committee to Aid American War Objectors. The committee helped the young immigrants with advice and aid on the Canadian immigration laws. For those who didn’t flee, life was full of harassment from the Government.
Popular music and literature help display this message of repression. Jimi Hendrix released a song titled "If 6 was 9" that described his oppression: "White collared conservative flashing down the street/Pointing their plastic finger at me/They’re hoping soon my kind will drop and die...Go on Mr. business man/You can’t dress like me." During Woodstock, the music festival in ’69, Country Joe and the Fish sang lyrics that were both comical and intense: "What are we fighting for?/Don’t ask me, I don’t give a damn/Next stop is Vietnam...Whoopee we’re all gonna die." Jerry Rubin illustrated his anger in the government, in the book he wrote while spending time in jail. We Are Everywhere describes Rubin’s hatred towards all authority admitting, "heroin is the governments’ most powerful counter-revolutionary agent, a form of germ warfare. Since they can’t get us back into their system, they try to destroy us through heroin" (118).
This repression of the elder generation sent the youth to accepting communities, particularly out west. Most of the people leaving their homes came from working-class families whose parents and communities had driven them out for simply for supporting the civil rights movement. Being alienated from their towns and considered communists, they found it easy to side with the anti-war movement. It was also easy for them to discover drugs and the free-love idea that was already being spread. The new culture identified themselves with the Native Americans and their unquestionable oppression, sacramental drugs, and true ties to America.
The style that they developed was true to this philosophy. Described by Gitlin: Dope, hair, beads, easy sex, all that might have started as symbols of teenage difference or deviance, were fast transformed into signs of cultural dissidence...Boys with long and unkempt hair, pony tails, beards, old-timey mustaches and sideburns; girls unpermed, without rollers, without curlers, stringy-haired, underarms and legs unshaven, free of makeup and bras...A beard could be understood as an attempt to leap into manhood...Clothes were a riot of costumes...India’s beads, Indians’ headbands , cowboy-style boots and hides, granny glasses, long dresses, working-class jeans and flannels; most tantalizingly, army jackets. (215) There was a tour bus that ran through the Haight-Ashbury area in San
Francisco called the Gray Line. The tours promotional brochure contained the statement: "The only foreign tour within the continental limits of the United States" (qtd. in Sutton 36). The significant people in the city didn’t like the idea of a large hippie community growing in their city. The city didn’t contain any photographs on file, nor did they "dig" the idea of journalists doing reports on the hippies. Ronald Reagan thought of the hippies as someone who "dresses like Tarzan, has hair like Jane, and smells like Cheetah" (qtd. in Gitlin 217). But with or without such outside influences, the hippies continued to pursue their "make love not war" and "free love" attitudes.
No movement in our history defines a cultural change more accuratly than the hippie movement in the 60’s. They had their own laws, music, clothes, and writtings. The view of what a society should be was a common one to all hippies. Their ideas were big all throughout the late Sixties and early Seventies, and there is still a large hippie population in America today.
Jimmy Hendrix em concerto
The Hippie GenerationA brief look into the hippie culture
Adam Huber, Chris Lemieux, Marlon Hollis
Through out history the world has seen some generations that have made an impact more than all of its predecessors. The decade from 1960 to 1970 was definitely one of those eras. The people didn't follow the teachings of its elders, but rejected them for an alternative culture which was their very own. Made up of the younger population of the time this new culture was such a radical society that they were given their own name which is still used today. They came to be called the Hippies. The Hippie movement started in San Francisco, California and spread across the United States, through Canada, and into parts of Europe. But it had its greatest influence in America. During the 1960's a radical group called the Hippies shocked America with their alternative lifestyle and radical beliefs. Hippies came from many different places and had many different backgrounds.
All Hippies were young, from the ages of 15 to 25. They left their families and did it for many different reasons. Some rejected their parents' ideas, some just wanted to get away, and others simply were outcasts, who could only fit in with the Hippie population. Most Hippies came from wealthy middle class families. Some people said that they were spoiled and wasting their lives away. But to Hippies themselves this was a way of life and no one was going to get in the way of their dreams and ambitions. Hippies flocked to a certain area of San Francisco on the corner of Haight Street and Ashbury Street, where the world got their first view of this unique group.
This place came to be known as the Haight Ashbury District. There were tours of the district and it was said that the tour was the only foreign tour within the continental limits of the United States. The Hippies were so different that the conservative middle class could not relate to them and saw them as aliens. The Haight Ashbury district lies in the very center of San Francisco. In the years of 1965 and 1966 the Hippies took over the Haight Ashbury district. There they lived and spread their psychedelic theme through out the whole area. In the Haight Ashbury district there were two parks that that all Hippies knew well. The most famous of the two was the Golden Gate Park. The single most important event that put the Hippies on the map was held at the Golden Gate Park. It was called the Trips Festival. The Trips Festival was a week long festival designed to celebrate the LSD experience. Besides this festival dozens of other events took place at Golden Gate Park, some of which were free concerts by The Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane and Anti-War rallies held by Hippie political leaders. The other park is called the Buena Vista park and is known for housing hippies at night and for socializing during the day.
As the 1960's progressed, the youth in America united. In 1969 400,000 young people materialized for three dizzying days to listen to rock and blues music, to wear funny clothing or no clothes at all, to talk, sing, dance, clap hands, to drink beer or smoke pot and make love-but mostly to marvel again and again that they were all there together. This festival was held in a small town in up-state New York and came to be called Woodstock, after the town it was held in. Also in Greenwich Village, New York Hippies had a place. The Village on every Sunday was known to have hordes of singers with banjos and drums celebrating their youth together. One of the basic foundations of the Hippie movement was the flagrant use of illegal drugs. There were many drugs that the Hippies used but none was more used then marijuana. From 1960 to 1970 the number of Americans who had tried marijuana had increased from a few hundred thousand to 8,000,000. The majority of these new users were from 12 years old to college seniors.
To some Hippies, drugs and music were the most important aspects of their lives. Another drug that was prevalent in the Hippie population was LSD. Some Hippies thought that LSD “put you in touch with your surroundings”. But that was not what always the case. On occasion a hippie would take bad LSD and would experience a "bad trip" or would "freak out". When someone took bad LSD, freak out is exactly what they would do and sometimes they never came back. Bad LSD was so common that even at Woodstock people were having bad trips and freaking out. Even with this bad LSD everywhere people still used it, they went as far as to make a religion out of it. A man by the name of Dr. Timothy Leary was a Harvard professor who had ideas about LSD. He said "LSD is western yoga. The aim of all Eastern religion, like the aim of LSD, is basically to get high; that is to expand your consciousness and find ecstasy and revelation within".
Another preacher of the use of LSD was an author by the name of Ken Keasey. He traveled around the United States in a psychedelic bus giving LSD to anyone and everyone who would take it. Hippies were notorious for there out of the ordinary music. Many Hippies were actually musicians themselves. Hippies used music as a way to get their thoughts and ideas out. One of the most influential musicians of the time was Bob Dylan. The lyrics of the song "Like Rolling Stone" express the thoughts of many Hippies. They say: How does it feel How does it feel To be without a home Like a complete unknown Like a rolling stone?” These lyrics expressed Dylan's personal thoughts to what was happening to him. He did feel "like a rolling stone" and so did his peers. His simple but meaningful lyrics are what made him so popular and successful. Many Hippies considered Dylan as a spokesman for their beliefs. Drugs were also themes in many bands songs. Jimmy Hendrix's "Purple Haze" is about marijuana. "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds," is a Beatles song about LSD.
The Grateful Dead also took part in the fad with their song "Casey Jones," with lyrics such as "High on Cocaine" and "You better watch your Speed." Besides their music and drugs Hippies did some out of the ordinary things that were as shocking as their day-glo clothing. It was common for hippies in the Haight Ashbury District to put a nickel in a parking meter, then set up blankets and lie down in the space for a half hour. This was unusual behavior so it is not strange that the public did not take them seriously. Television shows like the successful Laugh In made fun of this counter culture.
Movies made fun of them as well. One called the Presidents Analyst was extremely successful. The movie was dedicated "to the life, liberty, and pursuit of happenings," and was based on the Hippies wacky antics. People all over the America were outraged at how strange these people were and at the same time were in tears at how funny they were. Even though from afar the Hippies were entertaining, in reality they were devastating the American family and were tearing the country in two.
While the adults of the time were conservative, hard working, and caring mainly about money, the Hippies didn't care about any of that. They were party animals. Many didn't work unless it was completely necessary, they never went to church nor did they care for saving their virginity until after they were married. They were anything but conservative and their families rejected them for it. Hippies easy going attitudes and fun and games lifestyles were put away when the topic of politics came up. Indubitably the instigator for their existence, politics played a huge role in their lives.
Having strongest feelings for the Vietnam War and for the Civil Rights Movement, the Hippies made their beliefs known to the world. They did this in many ways including musical shows, pacifist folk songs, and through peaceful sit-ins. But none of their actions were more seen and heard of then their protests and rallies. The Hippies were aware that the war was being lost and that thousands of American soldiers were dying. They took it upon themselves the make their beliefs heard. They put together a protest larger then the ever before. Once organized not just Hippies came, but students, intellectuals, radicals, and citizens of all classes took part in it. This protest was held in Washington DC in the heart of the United States. 250,000 protesters gathered for one common goal. They wanted their troops to come back home and for United States involvement in the war to be ended.
Through the years of the Vietnam War hundreds of anti-war rallies were held. By the decades end protests seemed to have done some good. Sixty five percent of all Americans had similar views as the hippies. They wanted their troops back and that's what they got in the 1969 when the President gave the word to bring them back home. Hippies had other feelings about racism and persecution. They took part in the civil rights movement, just as they did in the for the Vietnam troops. When President Kennedy tried to pass his Civil Rights policies and they never went through, the Hippies were more aggravated Eventually some Hippies tried to make their own colonies where there was no racism and persecution. There were Hippie communes all over the United States. Some communes believed that they were "fighting against the white man's perverted society of pollution ,war, and greed”.
These communes didn't get very popular and failed after a few years. Hippies still fought for racial equality. Finally when the 1960's were over new laws were put into action helping racial equality which would not have happened without the Hippies. During the 1960's a radical group called the hippies shocked America with their alternative lifestyle and radical beliefs. They were young people who enjoyed life to its fullest. They used illegal drugs and listened to rock and roll music. With their alternative beliefs and practices they stunned America's conservative middle class. Concerned chiefly protesting the Vietnam War and with civil rights they made a huge impact on the America and the world. Even today the effects of the Hippie movement is still felt. They made huge advantages and set examples for the youth of today and years to come.
Rock and Roll
Rock and Roll changed in many ways during the hippie era. Though it always ways a sensuous music form since its formation in the 1950s, it tended to hide its sexuality behind euphemisms. It was never political, and seemed to express contentment with middle class American values. Even if Middle America didn’t always like it, their kids loved it. Masked with behind its playful, happy veil, Rock and Roll in the Fifties subtly thumbed its nose at Middle America. During the hippie era, a generation of young people threw off the conventions of their parents and their music followed.
The Civil Rights Movement, the Bay of Pigs fiasco, Vietnam and Watergate all proved to this generation that the old morays no longer functioned, and indeed, had never functioned for large segments of the population. Their music followed after them. Rock and Roll left it’s just for fun veil. It became political, taking on social issues, it became more frank about sexuality. Rock went from Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Great Balls of Fire” to Jimi Hendrix’s “Foxy Lady”. Women like Janis Joplin also played a larger role, though the music form remained a male-dominated business. Rock and Roll was and is the music of the Hippie Generation. It evolved as they evolved. As they became sexually free, and politically jaded Rock and Roll did too. Rock chronicles the entire culture of a generation of Americans.
"With a Little Help From my Friends"
Many music critics have claimed that the phrase written above, which can be found in the lyrics from the song with that title, is in reference to drug use. Friends, apparently, are a metaphorical figure that John Lennon used to portray drugs when he penned this song. Did the Beatles use drugs when they made their music? And if it is true that the Beatles were drug users then one would have to wonder about the presence of other drug influenced music that has been created over time. So in fact, can we say that drugs are a factor in the creation of music? They just may be.
Musicians from all genres can attest to the usage of drugs in cases concerning both artistic development as well as personal life. Jazz musicians are said to have used marijuana as a way of attaining better timing. An old jazz term “tall” was used to indicate that one of the performers were high. Legendary jazz saxophonist John Coltrane was asked to leave the jazz band of Miles Davis due to his heroine addiction. Blues musicians also were advocates of drugs and alcohol.
Many of the lyrics of blues songs deal with the usage of booze in their life. One song in particular by John Lee Hooker tells the story of his night at a bar drinking liquor in an effort to forget his love. Later redone by George Thorogood, the song mentioned is “One Bourbon, One Scotch, and One Beer”. However, more so than the jazz and blues genre, when drugs are mentioned in accordance with music, people often think of “hippie music”. While “hippie music” is a hard definition to come up with exactly, one can get a sense of what that music was. While people from all classifications can enjoy and bask in every type of music, for purposes of this project “hippie music” will be classified as music that is primarily listened to by the type of person most labeled as a hippie. And for this particular type of music, drug use was undoubtedly a major influence.
One of the poster bands for the hippie population is the Grateful Dead. The Grateful Dead, a San Francisco based band were avid users of various narcotics. Often time throughout their career the Dead would perform concerts while on LSD, a chemically manufactured drug commonly known as acid which may cause, among other things, hallucinations.
For a small period of time the Grateful Dead sold acid that was made by Owlsley Stanley, a prominent acid maker who fronted the money for instruments and equipment for the early Grateful Dead. Rock Scully, the manager of the Grateful Dead and author of Living With the Dead, tells of one time selling Owlsley acid to people who bought drugs for Jim Morrison of the Doors. Scully then claims that Morrison wrote much of his best material while on the acid. Drug use by the Doors is seen in more depth in the movie The Doors by director Oliver Stone. Acid was used by many performers in the hippie generation, however, this was not the only drug that was used.
Musicians during the ‘60s used more of a variety of drugs rather than just LSD. Heroine, cocaine, mescaline, PCP, nitrous oxide, and mushrooms are just some of the substances that were in favor of bands. The Allman Brothers Band, in a show of band unity, all had mushrooms tattooed onto their calves. The mushroom was from then on adopted as the unofficial symbol of the band. Eric Clapton, guitarist for the bands the Yardbirds and Cream before later taking on a solo career, once recorded a song simply titled “Cocaine”. In a side note, Clapton now runs a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center know as Crossroads.
Lyrics and song titles of the hippie generation also show a lean towards the use of drugs. The Beatles “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” was said the have been written about a drug induced trip that they had, however it is contested by band members that the song was written about a drawing that was made by one of their children. However, that is not the only song that has people believing in the use of drugs by musicians. Steppenwolfs song, “The Pusher”, used in the soundtrack for the movie Easy Rider talks about drug use and the people who sell it. “Purple Haze” by Jimi Hendrix is another example of the way that drugs influenced the music the time. Purple haze, more than just a song title, was the name of a batch of LSD that was made by the previously mentioned Owlsley Stanley. Heroine also get its due in the musical circle by being the subject and title of the Velvet Underground’s song “Heroine”.
Drugs use also can be attributed to the cause for the death of many musicians who symbolized the hippie movement. Most remembered for having passed during the time of hippies is Jimi Hendrix (barbiturate overdose), Janis Joplin (heroine, alcohol and Valium overdose) and Jim Morrison (heart attack brought on by heroine use). However, the list goes on farther than that, Who drummer Keith Moon, Rolling Stones guitarist Brian Jones, and more recently Grateful Dead guitarist and singer Jerry Garcia all died from drugs or complications caused by chronic drug use. In more recent history, Sublime singer Brad Nowell, Blind Melon’s Shannon Hoon, both influenced by hippie music have died from drug complications.
Drug use has always been rampant in American music, especially rock and roll. In regards to rock and roll, the specific genre of “hippie music” can lay claim to a number of drug users and drug influenced recordings. Whether beneficial or detrimental to music is a arguable point, but one can not deny the impact and influence that is present and caused by drug use. A quote by Michael Bloomfield, a guitarist who served stints with the likes of Bob Dylan and Muddy Waters shows the way that some musicians feel about the use of narcotics. “ I’ve got a friend named Greenspan that says, “I need a little cocaine to give me energy. I need a little liquor to give me courage. And I need a little pot to give me inspiration.” I believe this to be the case for many musicians….I tend to stay fucked up all the time.” Michael Bloomfield later died from a heroine overdose.