what was the san francisco sound?

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Re: what was the san francisco sound?

Postby Susan Butcher on Sat May 22, 2010 9:28 pm

I'd guess, PF, that Blue is referring to the Bomb. The threat of death in an unnecessary war can do strange things to your head. And then there's the "atom-age mutant" explanation for the cultural upheaval of the Sixties.

I agree that "Hair" was Broadway hippy exploitation for the middle-aged, but it was better than average for what it was. I wouldn't condemn it just because the Cowsills did a cover of the title song. I found an LP of "Your Own Thing" last year, and it's so bad I haven't listened to the second side yet. Musicals are silly, I know, but sometimes I'm in a silly mood.

As to what was in the San Francisco music that made it special, I'd say it's something "metaphysical", to quote Paul. Something about "being and knowing", and being in on it. I know it sounds like crap, but I can't just say "psychedelic", it doesn't have a specific meaning anymore.
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Re: what was the san francisco sound?

Postby EmbryonicRabbit68 on Sat May 22, 2010 10:03 pm

I think the San Francisco scene was as all other "scenes", it starts with one or a few groups in one city. The youth their being influenced by their times and music, and going out to rebel with the use of rock music, and drawing an influence from another genre. Then, once one of the groups with this distinct sound gets out, other bands and teens pick up on it, and try to copy the sound to get popular locally. I'm not saying all the San Francisco groups were copying each other, but they had their own distinct sound and that's what we're talking about, and it started with groups trying to get popular locally, along with having the same ideas of freedom and peace.
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Re: what was the san francisco sound?

Postby oldblue on Sun May 23, 2010 12:31 am

plasticfantastic wrote:
oldblue wrote:fate may explain it's genesis but still what was it. i kind of believe it's all tied up in e=mc2


Wait a second.... Energy equals the square of mass times the speed of light? How did the theory of relativity come into this? Sorry, did I miss something, because this thread seems to have lost me...


no. not talking about the bomb.

how does one stop time? isn't that what these people were trying to do. they were trying to be living metaphors (become the thing itself). but living metaphors of what. living metaphors for light. if you can go the speed of light time stops. lsd stops time. true poetry stops time. time stops on the frontier. isn't it the american dream to live in an eternal present?

it's all about light. what else would atomic age folk music be about?
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Re: what was the san francisco sound?

Postby usedtobebabson on Sun May 23, 2010 8:14 am

Sounds like for the San Francisco Sound - There was none, but there was an early counter-culture, that formed the baseline or core of what was to spread like wildfire throughout the country. Seemed to propagate after the "Humane BE-in". San Francisco WAS a gathering place for musicians like Joplin(Texas) and Hendrix(Renton, Wa.) and others. Hey ER, Hendrix's grave is about a 15 minute drive from my house 8)

As for Hair, sigh, I guess you just hadda be there. There was no one over 25 years of age at the plays I went to. Sad, because Hair was the exact opposite of what you guys are thinking. If you ever listened to the '68 broadway cast production, the play is the sum total of what we rebelled against. Every single thing that pissed us off about "the establishment" which included parents and society was voiced in a sometimes very shocking manner in the play. To me, if anyone wants to get the "whole picture" of what the 60s youth counter-culture was all about, it is all there in the original "Hair". Hearing you folks, I tend to think that no one has heard it or seen it here. Just opinions of reviews they've read somewheres else. Especially when I see remarks that this was a exploited musical for the middle-aged crowd. NOT. :shock:
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Re: what was the san francisco sound?

Postby oldblue on Sun May 23, 2010 10:54 am

i think what propagated after the human be-in was marketing.

Eventually, it got to the point where the Wall Street Journal headlined a page one article:

CALL IT PSYCHEDELIC
AND IT WILL SELL FAST,
SOME MERCHANTS SAY

The writer of the article went on to say that “almost anything a writer might call psychedelic would sell, even wildly colored widgets that have been sitting on the store shelves for years.. . .Psychedelic is developing into a magic sales word.” (Masters 86) For musician and record producer Jack Nitzsche it was a matter of when “they put it on TV and it all became a costume.” (McDonough 214)

i was there to listen to the soundtrack and have seen the play. sadly, in the vernacular of the the day, hair is not where it's at.
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Re: what was the san francisco sound?

Postby Susan Butcher on Sun May 23, 2010 10:04 pm

Hair. I've got a tape of the Broadway version. I like it, even though it's kind of a second-hand summary of the cultural revolution. In places the music hits the spot. At least it sounds like rock music, not a clueless show band imitation. And I can believe that the under-25s enjoyed it. But it does not have that spirit of exploration I associate with West Coast groups. You can't really improvise a Broadway show.
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Re: what was the san francisco sound?

Postby plasticfantastic on Sun May 23, 2010 10:23 pm

Susan Butcher wrote: But it does not have that spirit of exploration I associate with West Coast groups. You can't really improvise a Broadway show.


So much of the SF sound had to do with the improvisation that (at least to some degree) characterized bands like Airplane, The Grateful Dead, and The Quicksilver Messenger Service. That's one of the reasons why so many of those bands had to be heard live to be appreciated. A real shame for all of us young fans, but so much of the sound could only happen live...

I think that when that sort of improvisation started to fade from popularity (or perhaps demi-popularity as it were), so did the innate quality of the music, and of the musicians themselves who were making it.
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Re: what was the san francisco sound?

Postby EmbryonicRabbit68 on Sun May 23, 2010 10:45 pm

They were just too natural, too natural for their own good, and the sleazy seventies swallowed them up. Like krill to the whale that is the music business, sad because the whole motive of the San Francisco sound was against the commercialism of the music business. It's sickening!
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Re: what was the san francisco sound?

Postby usedtobebabson on Sun May 23, 2010 11:46 pm

As for the San Francisco Sound this talk is over my head. I don't think that The Airplane, QMS, Big Brother & the Holding Company or The Greatful Dead had any "Sound" that was unique enough to limit it to that area. I would lean toward the improvisation angle, but that to, was not local to the San Francisco area.
As for hair - well no one's comparing it to San Francisco Bands. It was a Musical Play for crissake. What it did was inspire a lot of these artist you are talking about. I'm pretty sure the JA members saw it, as they used it as their argument to get "up against the wall mother fucker" on their Volunteers album. So they must have seen it, and obviously Mike Lang and Art Kornfeld saw it, and a lot of other people that probably wouldn't occur to "some" of you. :wink:
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Re: what was the san francisco sound?

Postby usedtobebabson on Mon May 24, 2010 9:41 am

I am afraid to see or listen to the new release of Hair on Broadway. I shiver at what a bastardized, commercialized, middle aged and teeny-bop crap it may have mutated to.
Since this is the open forum here is a typical outing to Hair in 1968. You're Community College Charters a bus to Broadway, NYC. About a 3 hour trip. On the way there tabs of blue flat acid get handed out. Not as good as the owsley or blue cheer, but still pretty good potent stuff. As we exit to go into the play, I get hung up on all the patterns and brilliant colors in the sidewalk. We go into the play and enjoy every rule of the establishment being addressed, challenged, and broken. Like I said, I guess you hadda be there. The bus ride back is a dream. The crowd at Hair was not much different than the crowd at a Mothers of invention concert. So Hair WAS where its AT in '68 to '72. When the rest of you saw it or heard it, I would guess the environment and society had changed enough, to make it NOT where it's AT.
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Re: what was the san francisco sound?

Postby oldblue on Mon May 24, 2010 9:55 am

usedtobebabson wrote:As for the San Francisco Sound this talk is over my head. I don't think that The Airplane, QMS, Big Brother & the Holding Company or The Greatful Dead had any "Sound" that was unique enough to limit it to that area. I would lean toward the improvisation angle, but that to, was not local to the San Francisco area.
As for hair - well no one's comparing it to San Francisco Bands. It was a Musical Play for crissake. What it did was inspire a lot of these artist you are talking about. I'm pretty sure the JA members saw it, as they used it as their argument to get "up against the wall mother fucker" on their Volunteers album. So they must have seen it, and obviously Mike Lang and Art Kornfeld saw it, and a lot of other people that probably wouldn't occur to "some" of you. :wink:



not sure how hair inspired any of the san francisco musicians. they seemed to be the antithesis of radical politics in so many ways (until volunteers at least anyway). would like to see sources for this as well as airplane members having seen it. the line "up against the wall motherfuckers" is actually taken from a leroi jones (amiri baraka) poem called black people! the line in the poem was "up against wall mother fucker this is a stick up.
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Re: what was the san francisco sound?

Postby oldblue on Mon May 24, 2010 9:56 am

EmbryonicRabbit68 wrote:They were just too natural, too natural for their own good, and the sleazy seventies swallowed them up. Like krill to the whale that is the music business, sad because the whole motive of the San Francisco sound was against the commercialism of the music business. It's sickening!



ah but they all signed record contracts
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Re: what was the san francisco sound?

Postby redrabid on Mon May 24, 2010 7:59 pm

Right, Oldblue, they did. From the beginning Marty Balin was very intent upon making JA a commercially succesful band (styling the band upon The Loving Spoonful and The Byrds) despite all his SF counterculture pr-talk and willing to pay the prize. I remember to have read some very bitter remarks made by one of the members of Big Brother about how the still Marty Balin-piloted JA were very keen on making it big, while at the same time spreading anti-commercial talk. JA even went to LA (LA was later the absolute sell out according to SF ideology) to audition for Phil Spector, need I say more.
In the beginning of the SF scene JA were seen as an ambitious, sacrificing-all-for-succes-band by their peers. Of course most bands signed for huge advances not much later and the recordcompanies could start their SF Love-No-Commerce-campaign. Most of us still believe in it.
Personally,"I don't care if there are chemicals in it, as long as my lettuce is crisp" (J. Kaukonen). The music was great.
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Re: what was the san francisco sound?

Postby Susan Butcher on Mon May 24, 2010 10:14 pm

Do you think perhaps Paul saw "Jesus Christ Superstar"?

I don't really mind that Marty wanted the Airplane to be a big success. Did it seriously compromise the music? I don't think so. Not until the Seventies and Starship.

I have a problem with this attitude that artists and musicians have to do it practically for free. It's hard work!
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Re: what was the san francisco sound?

Postby oldblue on Mon May 24, 2010 11:51 pm

Susan Butcher wrote:Do you think perhaps Paul saw "Jesus Christ Superstar"?

I don't really mind that Marty wanted the Airplane to be a big success. Did it seriously compromise the music? I don't think so. Not until the Seventies and Starship.

I have a problem with this attitude that artists and musicians have to do it practically for free. It's hard work!


i don't have a problem with artists recouping for their work either. in a money economy you need money to survive. what i do have a problem with is people talking out of both sides of their mouths.
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