We can’t help but look back on our younger years as baby boomers and see both good and bad. That’s what we like about this essay from Gavin Lakin of San Rafael, California. He calls it “Between Groovy and Gnarly: A Letter from One Decade to Another.”
I’d like to take a moment to say, what a year you were! Though you hail from quite the unique little decade— representing the final reckoning of the tumultuous 1960s — it just doesn’t feel right to overlook your connection to me. You were a transition, both an ending and a beginning. From Broadway Joe Namath’s New York Jets Super Bowl upset to The Rolling Stones’ Altamont Free Concert, you were filled with drama and intrigue. I’d be nowhere without you.
I’d like you to understand, my long-suffering bearded and flower child brother, because of you I felt inspired to turn inward and be more reflective, setting the stage for the singer-songwriters who thrived during my years. Was this a direct result of your many tragic news events? Like Hendrix and his guitars, did the world try to burn you up? What was left of you came out the other side of Altamont, handing me the axe, wishing me well.
Sure, there were uplifting stories. The Moon. The Beatles’ memorable “zebra crossing” for the Abbey Road album cover. John & Yoko’s “bed-in” for peace. Woodstock, oh, Woodstock, with its muddy bliss and unparalleled weekend of music history. The Brady Bunch, Scooby Doo, Sesame Street, and Monty Python’s Flying Circus debut.
January 20: Richard Nixon succeeds Lyndon Johnson. Watergate, anyone?
July 3: Rolling Stone Brian Jones drowns in his swimming pool in England.
July 18: Chappaquiddick incident – Edward M. Kennedy drives off a bridge on his way home from a party. Mary Jo Kopechne dies in the submerged car. More tragedy in Camelot.
August 9: Followers of Charles Manson murder Sharon Tate, Abigail Folger, Wojciech Frykowski, Jay Sebring, and Steven Parent. This twisted tale grasped the nation’s attention for months. And Charlie gets three squares and a cot, courtesy of U.S. taxpayers.
September 5: Lieutenant William Calley is charged with six counts of premeditated murder for the 1968 My Lai Massacre deaths of one-hundred-nine Vietnamese civilians. A malignant conclusion that left a black mark on U.S. military history.
November 9: American Indians, led by Richard Oakes, seize Alcatraz Island for nineteen months, inspiring Indian pride and government reform. This was about three-hundred years overdue, considering mistreatment, broken treaties, and outright lies perpetuated by the U.S. Government during the post-American Civil War era.
December 6: The Altamont Free Concert is held at the Altamont Speedway in Northern California. Hosted by the Rolling Stones, it was an attempt at a “Woodstock West.” The unexpected violence that occurred, with prodding from the Hells Angels, tainted the event forever. Many see this as the “end of the Sixties.”
Your last #1 hit, “Someday We’ll Be Together,” belonged to the Supremes, the most successful American group of your turbulent reign. It truly felt like an ending, for that magnificent, shiny ball would soon drop on Times Square — Dick Clark would welcome me in.