Wayback Weekend! Celebrating music icons of the 60s!

An Evening with Arlo Guthrie, 8 p.m. July 21

Piedmont Symphony Orchestra: “Sgt. Pepper and the Summer of Love,” 8 p.m. July 22

We’re going back in time this summer. The activist and clown Wavy Gravy once said, “If you can remember the ‘60s, you weren’t really there.”

We’re here to jog your memory if you can’t remember and to introduce those who weren’t around for that watershed year of change, energy and fierce counterculture determination.

Scholar, journalist and editor Harvey Kubernik, in his recently published comprehensive history, “1967: A Complete Rock Music History of The Summer of Love put it succinctly:

“No previous moment – not the bobby soxers clamoring for Sinatra in ’47; not the poodle-skirted screamers pining for Elvis in ’57; not even the first salvos of the British invasion in ’64 – had prepared listeners young and old, square and hipster, for what flew out of 1967’s sonic cuckoo’s nest.

That year, 1967 “remains an indelible “hinge year” of the 20th century, when so many aspects of popular culture, the arts, fashion, politics, foreign entanglements, race, women’s rights, reproductive rights, drug laws and more, came into visceral focus,” he writes.

“The push/pull between the “Greatest Generation” and their impertinent offspring put paid to the “Ozzie and Harriet” vision of Middle America; in its stead was a raucous, unpredictable splash of creative indignation that spilled out like an unhinged oil well whose cleanup and consequences remain (deliriously) uncertain.”

But it was peace and love that was fueling the change, not anger or division. John Phillips, in a tune made famous by Scott McKenzie, urged young people to “wear flowers in their hair,” if they were heading to San Francisco to meet the “gentle people there.” The Youngbloods, in another hit song of the time urged, “Come on people, now, smile on your brother, everybody get together, try to love one another right now.”

The changes of that year still resound. “The musicians, wordsmiths and cultural creatives first heard a half a century ago left their aural footprints in the Summer of Love’s sonic soil. Those echoes continue to endear and endure.”

Selecting songs from the era for our evening was delightfully difficult work. After many long conference calls with Piedmont Symphony Orchestra personnel about topics rarely discussed and questions seldom asked, we came up with two set lists that represent the era.

While the Summer of Love was heating up in San Francisco, Los Angeles and other places, the Beatles released perhaps their most famous album that same summer. “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” tossed out the old pop notions of the British Invasion, remade the Fab Four and set rock music on new, experimental paths.

“Sgt. Pepper” was only the beginning. Half a century after the Beatles’ psychedelic landmark, it stands as one of many musical astonishments of 1967 that shaped what we listen to now,” the Associated Press recently reported.

“It was a year of technical, lyrical and rhythmic innovation, of the highest craftsmanship and most inspired anti-craftsmanship. The rock album became an art form” shoving aside the three minute AM radio bubble gum and marking the ascendance of FM radio, with its longer songs, and edgier, more experimental sound.

So to all who grew their hair long, played in a band, wore faded blue jeans, dreamed of changing the world – and had children who appreciate the music of your youth as much as you do – this night’s for you.


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