Thursday, January 17, 2008


After I wrote my previous post, with that reference to "acid folk, " I got to trippin' on all that groovy music from the late 60s and early 70s that my flatmate and I used to listen to back in our weekend hippie days. We were definitely a long way from what you'd call the hardcore counterculture, but we sure tried to look the part. I had a brown leather vest with rivets and fringe down past my knees; she had a tie-dyed T-shirt with matching headband, and giant hoop earrings; we both wore bell-bottom jeans (with homemade flares). you're probably wondering right about now if I'm going to admit to smoking anything "homemade" too. Well, yes, I did try it out a few times (and yes, I did inhale) but honestly, the whole "get high" thing never really caught on with me. My guess is it's because I'm a Taurus. For those of you who don't know astrology, Taurus is what's known as an Earth (as is solid ground) Sign. It's also a Fixed (as in real steady) Earth Sign. Plus, I also have a few teensy little control issues (as in, "the Observation way!!"). So you can easily imagine I wasn't a good candidate for being a stoner. However, that's not to say I didn't enjoy other accoutrements of hippie life. Sitting in a darkened room (India print bedspread/curtain over the window) with black light posters on the ceiling, laughing at the glowing lint on everybody's clothes can be a total blast...just not for hours. Of course, I found listening to the music the best part, and that could be done any time, any place, and under any conditions.

Back in those days I had the good fortune to know some actual hippies who were really into "folk rock," and who turned me on to some of the good stuff. Nowadays, it seems like there's all kinds of terms, with different shades of meaning and style: acid folk, freak folk, psych (as in psychedelic) folk. I honestly don't recall all those names back then, but maybe. What's most important to me is the fusion of various elements from "world music" (another more modern term). Instruments and traditions from India and the British Isles were two big influences, both in North America and across the pond. Some of my favorite British artists and groups were (and still are) Donovan, Fairport Convention, Pentangle, and Jethro Tull.

Here's a few samples from our friends at YouTube. Hope they bring you wonderful memories, but no bad flashbacks, man.
Judy Collins is probably better known for this one, but the late Sandy Denny wrote it and performs it here with Fairport Convention. It will be a long time before we hear the likes of her voice again, IMHO.
This one by Donovan was something of an anti-war song, because of its message of a peaceful Golden Age. Oddly, Scorsese paired it with a scene in "Goodfellas" that is arguably the most violent in a movie known for being violent (it's also available on YouTube). Also, Donovan and the Beatles also had a lot of cross-pollination, which is why the repeating chorus might remind you of "Hey Jude" or vice versa.
Pentangle's Jacquie McShee is another voice of another age. My personal fave of theirs is "Sweet Child" but there's no video of that one yet. But this little thinly-veiled morality song about "saving yourself for Mr. Right" is totally charming.
Every Christmas when I hear that musical line about "ten lords a-leaping" I always picture Ian Anderson. This video may be too long for's practically the Compleat Jethro Tull all by itself...but well worth a look and a listen. Worth while checking out the lyrics, too.

or, if you want just a little Tull with your tea:

Coming next post: artists and bands for over here.

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