1. Revolution (1968)
I’ve been watching a lot of documentaries on the current economic collapse and/or bail-out of the banking industry lately. Some of them have been widely respected in the media as factual and some are conspiracy themed – lo-fi Youtube finds.
In my searching and digging I stumbled across what might be one the most visually stunning and beautiful glimpses of an American revolution I’ve ever seen. Aptly titled Revolution, filmmaker Jack O’Oconnell puts you right smack in the heart of the Haight-Ashbury scene in the late 60s. You’re inside hippie-communes. You’re at Solstice Festivals. You go on acid trips (and really feel like you’re on them too) and you hear over and over the music of change – raw and real Rock and Roll.
Interview after interview, you’re thrown deeper into this revolution’s spirit. Swirling colors, analog projected freak-outs, bands chugging through psychedelic journeys. This films sums up the hippie movement like no other film ever has to me – including the Woodstock documentary.
At a time where I personally have taken much inspiration from Occupy movements around the country – this film really hit home and at the right time. Our current youth is no different than the youth of the 60s. We all want peace, social justice, a fair decent living, a place to do our art and a raised level of consciousness.
At one memorable point in the film, an unnamed Puppeteer and theatre director says:
“We do it. We live it, all the time. We survive and we work hard… We pay our actors about $5 a performance. You can live on $25 a week. That’s assuming you’re doing something you’re interested in and something that’s valuable. If you’re not doing something that’s interesting, then you got to get a lot of money, Mac! You got to make a fortune to keep a boring job.”
I think that’s the same spirit artists, musicians, writers and free thinkers of our current youthful generation operate in. We want meaningful lives. And we’re about to go through another major American revolution to make sure we have them.
It just so happens that the novel I’d like to recommend came out in 1968 as well. Richard Brautigan writes short, poignant sentences throughout In Watermelon Sugar that strike you as absurd and deeply meaningful – you need to pause and mediate over each one. Right away he puts you in this mystical world where emotions are strong, people live simple lives and food is a communal, spiritual facet of daily life.
There’s a dark bridge, loose and dangerous to cross. There are psychedelic talking tigers, so evil and satanic-feeling, that just writing about them right now brings chills to my spine.
And there is a broken-down love. In Watermelon Sugar is a story about the confusing transcendence of being in love, feeling love, and not being sure if love really exists. Then again, does anything really exist in iDEATH or inBOIL, the towns where it all takes place?
The sky changes color. The sun changes color. Some things can be predicted. Some cannot. This book is a real trip. A true meditation. It is short and takes only a day or two to read at most.
I suggest reading a section then going on a walk through the park and imagining yourself in that world. You start thinking you hear the tigers hiding in the bushes.
3. Creep on Creepin’ On, Timber Timbre (2011)
1968 was an important year in America. The true culmination of a historic counter-cultural youth movement and a mass awakening of spirit and mind. As we approach the dawn of “Twenty-Twelve” – I can feel in my heart another vast change upon this land. A call to get back to nature. A call to listen to the darker side of life and explore it and create something beautiful out of it. To create art out of this confusing world where institutions of all sorts have been collapsing before our very eyes – financial, religions, sports, consumer, and governmental institutions.
The human sprit cannot be defeated – and to me that’s what Timber Timbre’s 2011 album Creep on Creepin’ On is partially about. These guys are Canadian and they’re on the same page. We all see the change a’ coming.
The album stomps right into “Bad Ritual” – a twisted Motown groove with a beautiful lyrical confession. “Let’s keep looking ahead,” Taylor Kirk sings. Violins cascade over the epic last chorus. Then it gets instantly insane. “Obelisk,” the second track, is an Edgar Allen Poe heartbeat, mixed with a demented orchestra. A truly “creepy” tune (this album’s filled with them). But right away, track three, the title track, takes you back to a lighter a pop state of being. Wooo – this album is an emotional acid trip in itself. It spirals deeper and deeper and really sucks you in. A truly psychedelic masterpiece. There’s 50’s pop, Phil Spector string sections, smooth sax solos, great phrases and there’s my favorite thing ever – the song “Black Water” is a giant sigh. “All I need is some sunshine” the chorus repeats. I sigh when I hear it. And I say “Yes – all we need is a little sunshine right now in this world.”
PS – I dare you to take all 3 of these recommendations in the same week. Yow-Za!
Brooklyn’s backwords blends modern psychedelics with folk rock, 60s pop and a myriad of sonic surprises. THE L MAGAZINE calls it, “Twangy Americana” and “70s psych rock” and THE DELI MAGAZINE concedes, “They sure are doing something nobody else we are aware of is doing in NYC right now: unpretentious, mellow psych folk that speaks to the heart.”
backwords will release their sophomore full length, By The Neck on March 6, 2012.