These were MY songs, OUR songs, the songs of my generation. I thought of that book by Tom Brokaw, The Greatest Generation, about our parents--they who went through the Depression and World War II. But I realized that mine was a great generation, too. In high school, we were told that we were apathetic. Later, we were called The Silent Generation. But then we exploded. We were out there with our counter-culture, our songs that helped stop the Vietnam War, that contributed toward wiping out oppression, prejudice, or that simply joined us together as a generation. We had our guitars, our marches, our heroes: Bob Dylan, The Mamas and the Papas, Pete Seeger, Joan Baez, Judy Collins, Trini Lopez, Scott McKenzie--he who wrote the lyrics to "If You're Going to San Francisco." (The man I married and I went to San Francisco at that very time--to get married. Now I can barely hear that song without feeling all of it sweep over me. Those days, that time, the person I was and the people I loved, lived with, knew, to say nothing of our passion, adventurousness, energy.)
|Waiting for the train to San Francisco ... in my hippie goat coat. Brown leather with orange embroidery ... all-fur inside. Later, in San Francisco, passers-by complimented me on it. I'd bought it when living in the Middle East and wore it for years.|
Where are today's songs? Rather than giving up, giving in, where are today's protest songs that we can hear over and over, that are melodic enough to sing, with powerful lyrics and sweet, simple accompaniment? I think we're the poorer for not having them. And, if someone says that such songs do exist, well, I don't hear them. I wonder if our attention is too scattered ... if we're too out of practice to stop a moment, take a deep breath, and get such songs to speak for us again.
Last week I wrote about joining a six-week senior singalong. Well, you should have seen us when we tucked into those '60s songs. Let me tell you: we had energy and passion as we belted them out. They were part of us ... of who we still are.