“Hey sing that song again,” drawled my friend Tulsi lazily, as he stretched out on the sofa, his eyes closed, his mind totally spaced out. So, taking a deep drag on my joint, I began again:
Now that I've lost everything to you
You say you want to start something new
And it's breaking my heart you're leaving
Baby, I'm grieving
But if you want to leave, take good care
Hope you have a lot of nice things to wear
But then a lot of nice things turn bad out there
Oh baby baby it's a wild world
It's hard to get by just upon a smile
Oh baby baby it's a wild world
I'll always remember you like a child, girl…
Cat Stevens sure rocked our world back in the 60’s and 70‘s when we were college kids. Well, I ain’t referring to your ordinary college kid, either. We were studying in Kathmandu, then the ultimate Shangri La for flower children from all around the world, when hashish and happiness was the mantra we all lived by. And, yes, Cat Stevens was the man!
Of course, where there is hashish, and where there is joy, there must be song. The period(mid-60’s to the 70’s) was such as to give birth to highly creative endeavor in many fields, especially more so in the field of music. This was when Jimi Hendrix made his guitar convey emotions heretofore unfelt (“Purple Haze”), when Santana’s “Black Magic Woman” became akin to an anthem, when Carole King’s “It’s Too Late Baby, It’s Too Late Now”, “You’ve Got a Friend”, and “I Feel the Earth Move” lulled senses into deep retrospect.
It was also the time when Janis Joplin’s totally exuberant feelings screeched out their angst in unfettered enthusiasm in hits like “Me and Bobby McGee”, “Piece of my Heart”, and “Mercedes Benz”, when Joan Baez and her Spanish guitar belted out unforgettable messages of love, rebellion, and freedom in songs like “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down”, “Blowing In The Wind”, “Forever Young”, and “Diamonds and Rust”.
Music was uppermost on the mind of youth in those days, and this kind of acceptance and expectancy naturally became a clarion call to those with the passionate urge to express views and ideas impossible to keep suppressed. Thus was born a veritable crowd of lyricists, musicians, and singers in the times when hippies roamed the world, some seeking liberation and some, self-inflicted bondage. But, no matter how far they wandered, or how wildly they experimented, music was the one central feature of everything cool and groovy.
Bob Marley brought solace to many a heart with his “No Woman No Cry”, while Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi” expressed the hippy’s worldview in simple lyrics, and Neil Young’s “Heart of Gold” warmed many a soul. The 70’s was the decade when guys and gals thought it cool to carry around LP’s ofbands like Fleetwood Mac (“Go your own Way”), Credence Clearwater Revival, Pink Floyd, Jefferson Airplane, Led Zeppelin (“Stairway to Heaven”), AC/DC, Black Sabbath, Queen (“Bohemian Rhapsody”), The Who, Deep Purple (“Smoke on the Water”), Sly and the Family Stone, Crosby, Stills, and Nash, Bee Gees (“Stayin’ Alive”), and ABBA (“Dancing Queen”).
And, yes, George Harrison (“My Sweet Lord”) and John Lennon (“Imagine”) and The Beatles and The Rolling Stones and Simon and Garfunkel (“The Sound of Silence”, “Bridge over Troubled Waters”) were still carrying along nicely, as was Bruce Springsteen (“Born to Run”), Michael Jackson, Elton John, Bob Dylan, Stevie Wonder, Eric Clapton (“I Shot the Sheriff”), David Bowie, Rod Stewart, Blondie (“Heart of Glass”), Carly Simon, Joe Cocker, Donna Summers (“I Feel Love”), and Prince.
The period between the mid 60’s and the 70’s was truly a time when legends were born and songs were sung that have left an indelible print on the memory, especially of those like us who were in the prime of youth then. It was an era that saw not only the biggest stars of the music world till date, it also witnessed the greatest music festival of all time—Woodstock—which was held near New York for four days (Aug 15-18, 1969), and attended by half a million flower children, and in which some of the greatest names performed their magic. The finale was a two-hour rendition of sublime psychedelic music by Jimi Hendrix and his band, and it really symbolized the pulsating mood of the times.
Oh yes baby, it was really a wild, wild world out there!