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Posts Tagged ‘Hair’

I Got Life

I woke up tired this morning. So tired. Stumbled over here in the already blooming heat which did nothing to revive me. Plunked down in front of my laptop with a cup of coffee and just wanted to close my eyes.

Certainly didn’t want to write this. But I felt a certain obligation to my routine to play a Sunday song here. I could at least say that I did something.

I at first thought that I’m So Tired from the Beatles would fit. It’s from their White Album released in late 1968. That made me think. I wondered what album was sitting at #1 on the charts back on this date in 1969, fifty years in the past. It was such an interesting time, one filled with monumental events and people who shaped the world we live in today.

We were still reeling from the murders of MLK and RFK, Nixon took office in January, the draft was still sending young men into battle in Viet Nam, protests and race riots raged in the streets, our astronauts walked in epic fashion on the moon, and hundreds of thousands of people gathered together on Yasgur’s Farm outside Woodstock for a concert that immediately entered into the mythic realm.

But going back to seeing what the #1 album was on this date in 1969, I found that it wasn’t the White Album. No, it was the self titled second album from Blood Sweat and Tears which knocked the Original Cast Recording of Hair from the top of the chart. Looking further, the chart that year was topped by iconic albums from several genres. The White Album held the top for 8 weeks early in the year. There was a week with a compilation album from a TV special featuring Diana Ross and the Supremes and the Temptations Then Wichita Lineman from Glen Campbell held the top for a month, the Johnny Cash at San Quentin album for another month, Blood Sweat and Tears for 7 weeks, and Hair for 13 weeks. The year finished with 2 weeks from the supergroup Blind Faith, a month of Green River from Creedence, 8 weeks of the Beatles’ Abbey Road until Led Zeppelin II closed out the final week.

That is an epic year of music on the charts. Probably at least a hundred songs on those albums alone that most people my age can sing along to. But when you consider that the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Who, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Aretha Franklin, Bob Dylan, the entire Motown roster and just about every other musical rock, pop and soul god was still alive and at the peak of their creative powers, it only seems fitting. I was just a kid then but I am so grateful to have been influenced by that time and its music.

Don’t feel quite so tired now.

Here’s I Got Life from Hair. That was an album that was ingrained in my mind from an early age and I can still listen to it over and over. I think this song speaks to people in any time. Have a good day.

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The musical Hair opened on Broadway on this date 50 years ago, back in 1968. I grew up listening to this album and most of the songs feel like they are ingrained somehow in my DNA. Hailed as the American tribal love-rock musical, it was a groundbreaking show with songs that permeated the culture and helped define the era. Aquarius certainly feels like that time and that year.

And what a year 1968 was, here and around the world.

There were the tragic assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr and Robert F. Kennedy in April and June.

In a stormy election season, the 1968 Democratic Convention  was an eight-day violent skirmish in the streets of Chicago between police and protesters. Ultimately, Richard Nixon was elected president.

Here and around the globe, student anti-war protesters filled the streets and sometimes, as in the cases of Columbia University and Howard University, took over and occupied buildings.

North Korea captured the American surveillance ship the USS Pueblo and held its crew prisoner for 11 months. North Korea released the crew but kept the ship. It is now an exhibit Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum in Pyongyang.

There was the Tet Offensive and the My Lai Massacre in Viet Nam.

You had the Prague Spring that results later in the year with the Russians marching into Czechoslovakia to exert their control.

Before the opening of the 1968 Mexico Olympics, students protested in the streets that the money spent by the country for the Olympics would be better put to use in much needed social programs. The protesters were surrounded by the army and fired on, killing over 200 students and injuring over 1000 more.

The Olympics themselves were memorable with Bob Beamon soaring to an unfathomable record in the long jump. And, of course, there was the iconic image of Tommie Smith and John Carlos on the podium for the medal ceremony for the 200-meter run. Bare-footed with their heads cast downward, both raised gloved fists in the Black Power salute.

That would be enough for most years– maybe most decades. But there was even more that I don’t have time to go in here that make it one of the most chaotic and super-charged years in our history.

And among all that, the subversive sound of Hair played on. Well, it’s been fifty years and the world seems to have rotated back to find us in a similar time of chaos.

Some things never change, I guess.

So, for this week’s Sunday morning music I thought something from Hair would be fitting. So many great choices  but here are a couple of  better known selections, both of which became hits for artists that covered them in the following years. The first is Easy To Be Hard which was hit for Three Dog Night. The second is the title anthem which was #1 hit for The Cowsills.

Give a listen and have a good Sunday.


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