Tinyuniverse

Hippie music bands

If Mick Jagger’s hair had been shorter, the whole face of the earth would have changed.

When we mentioned to the poet Marcus Bales we were putting this list together, he immediately assumed a pejorative intent; yes, “hippie” has come to mean a term of censor, even in music—but we assured him our research was sincere.

Categories are safe, even when they dissolve into others. We know what “hippie songs” are, even as they expand like a stain. And what is amazing is how great and various and popular this list of hippie songs is. In a thousand years from now, when we look back at this era, all of our popular music will be seen for what it really is: hippie music.

The 1960s, as one would expect, features prominently, a time which, artistically, happily resembled the great Romantic era in poetry: sensual, but not overly so, intellectual, but not overly so, and perhaps because indulgence was miraculously tempered by a certain unstated restraint, popular. It sounds crazy to say the 1960s featured conservatism and restraint, but it did. Now that we’ve traveled through post-modernism, we know how conservative the lyric is, and the 60s were lyric. Tradition had yet to be toppled.

Only a few really like chaos, and when chaos threatens, lyric structure and common sense fight back in all sorts of hidden, wonderful ways. Shelley’s spring is never far behind. Tender, conservative feelings survive in the frenzy, even as rebellion gets the headlines. In an early interview, the Beatles made the astute observation that in England, kids hated what their parents symbolized, but not their parents, whereas in America, it was the other way around. The cliches of the 60s are just that: cliches, and should not be used to bash what was a spectacular confluence of events and sensibilities. There are movements which are self-consciously internationalist: one country fawns over another nation’s art, like the rich American ladies who in 1905 suddenly hankered for Japanese vases and haiku. But in the ’60s, England and America, two great nations, both gave and took, equally, appreciably, in a healthy, natural, intense, rivalry of shouting, stomping, feeling, and sharing.

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