Wednesday, April 10 get ready to trip down memory lane. That morning I’ll be hosting a very special program for the Rock Marathon. For listeners of a certain age, you’ll get to re-experience the heady Top 40 sounds inspired by psychedelia.
When San Francisco Conquered the Charts
The 1967 Summer of Love brought nationwide attention to what would become the counter-culture. LSD users reported seeing vibrant colors, swirling shapes, and sounds that faded in and out. They used surrealistic imagery and stream-of-consciousness narrative to describe their trips.
The sights and sounds of psychedelia permeated the graphics arts, fashion, and music.
A Special Psych-Out
I’ll be featuring the top 40 hits from 1966-1969 that were inspired by the psychedelic vibes flowing from Haight-Ashbury. In addition to the grooviest top 40 hits ever released, I’ll also be mixing in vintage radio ads products and movies such as “Pysch-Out” and “The Trip.”
Some of the charting artists were legit members of the scene. Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit” really wasn’t about a Victorian children’s classic. The Small Faces’ “Itchycoo Park” described a scene they were intimately familiar with. “Incense and Peppermints” by the Strawberry Alarm Clock was considered authentic enough to feature in the 1968 movie “Psych-Out.”
Many of the mainstays of the San Francisco scene (like the Grateful Dead) didn’t chart, but Jimi Hendrix did with “Purple Haze.” While straight-arrow Ted Nugent might not have understood what he was singing “Journey to the Center of the Mind,” the songwriters in the Amboy Dukes certainly did.
And the others
Some of the charting artists got their experiences second- or even third-hand. The Avante Garde (with a very young Chuck Woolery) suggested one didn’t need drugs for enlightenment with their chart hit “Naturally Stoned.”
The psychedelic scene was picked up in other ways by popular culture. The quintessential hippy chick, a free spirit with free-flowing hair was the subject of the Cowsills “The Rain, the Park, and Other Things.” She’s found in the Association’s “Windy, ” and an early version in “Georgy Girl” by the Seekers.
Fitting 6 hours into 3
Once I started looking for the characteristics of the psychedelic scene, the question turned from “what to include?” to “how much will I have to cut?”
I could easily have done a program twice as long and still only including Top 40 hits.
If you lived it (or wish you had), be sure to tune in. The program will be available for two weeks following the broadcast on the WTJU website.
Be sure to wear flowers in your hair, and have bread in your hand. After all, this is a fund drive.
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