Everything I Needed to Know I Learned from ‘60s Music
by Michael Braunstein
I am a child of the 1960s. I got my driver’s license in the ‘60s. I smoked my first joint in the ‘60s. Got drunk for the first time in the ‘60s. Became aware of a world outside of my personal sphere in the ‘60s. Got drafted in the ‘60s. Got laid for the first time in the ‘60s. Got married in the ‘60s. Took acid in the ‘60s. And though I became aware of God, spirituality and metaphysics earlier, the decade of the 1960s was when I grokked all that. And my most significant teacher was music.
Everyone knew that the 1960s were special years, the most radically change-filled decade in history. But I suspected every generation thought that of their own decade. Heck, the 1920s, with Paris and New York the centers of creativity, the Algonquin Round Table. The 1890s were rife with metaphysical exploration. Monumental change happened in the 1860s and the 1950s were so transitional. Still, I believed nothing compared to the 1960s. So, in the 1990s I happened to have the opportunity to ask someone who lived through many of those. I was close friends with an erudite and brilliant man who lived through the Roaring 20s, the 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s. I asked him.
Beats all. “Your sense is right,” my friend told me. “Absolutely the 1960s were special. The creativity and social evolution that took place were unparalleled.” So, it wasn’t just I who thought so.
Popular music exploded in the ‘60s and the conflation of Eastern philosophies, entheogenic drugs, social upheaval and spiritual awareness led to creative statements in a large percentage of songs and provided metaphysical, environmental and social messages in unprecedented numbers. I’ve mentioned these songs many times before but link up now. I’ve always been a lyrics person and the words are important so find them when you can. Some of the songs are obvious, some require deeper, poetic interpretation.
Go find these on YouTube, listen, and your training in metaphysics and social awareness will be complete, Grasshopper. That said, these are all listenable, enjoyable songs just for the music. Add the meaning and you’re elevated.
“Get Together” – The quintessential message of “Love vs. Fear”. Of course, “love vs. fear” is a Biblical theme, too. Original song was written by Dino Valenti, covered by The Kingston Trio then the We Five before The Youngbloods released a signature version. https://youtu.be/53XyCbIJGKY But, if you want goosebumps, go to the real deal, writer Dino’s version here: https://youtu.be/i8xpHGR7EI4
“Heaven is in Your Mind” – Traffic. Title says it all. Band members (including Stevie Winwood and Dave Mason) holed up in 16th century Berkshire cottage and writing sessions were fueled with chemical inducements. https://youtu.be/LVSd48vIYFI
“Fresh Garbage” – Spirit. I’ll say Spirit is my favorite band of all time. Rock, pop, jazz, world — all genres melded into virtuoso performances by virtuoso players. Title is a hint. From 1968, pre-Silent Spring, these guys were pounding it. “Look beneath your lid some morning. See the things you did not quite consume. The world’s a can for your fresh garbage.” 1968!
“Nature’s Way” – Spirit. “It’s Nature’s way of telling you… something’s wrong.”
“Canyons Burning Down” – Spirit. Decades before the California drought and before the term “global warming” even existed.
“So Little Time to Fly” – Spirit. “Find a garden that’s green all year…” https://youtu.be/PA73g431_iU
“Cousin Caterpillar” – Incredible String Band. Treatise on how to accept change. https://youtu.be/B_gZu1xK29s
“Douglas Traherne Harding” – Incredible String Band. “One light. Light that is One though the lamps be many.” Healing separation, seeing Oneness. https://youtu.be/RnrldplvVok
“War” – Edwin Starr 1969 with “What is it good for?” Why don’t we hear this on the radio ten times a day? https://youtu.be/01-2pNCZiNk
“Tomorrow Never Knows” – The Beatles. Surprisingly, The Beatles songbook is scant with real metaphysical songs. This one came from a John Lennon acid trip while contemplating the Tibetan Book of the Dead. The lyrics describe true meditation pretty well. The paradox is the cacophony of the musical bed. Harrison would have done it better. If this is Lennon’s acid trip, it explains a lot, as in “I hope this stuff wears off soon.”) https://youtu.be/6a3NcwfOBzQ
“Within You and Without You” – The Beatles. George Harrison’s contribution. Heavily influenced by Vedic philosophy. “Try to realize it’s all within yourself. No one else can make you change.” https://youtu.be/RxRJJXyRZwY George was a gentle and peaceful soul whenever I saw him in the studio, emanating what he wrote about.
“Maya” – The Incredible String Band. The basic raiment of reality is maya as described in Vedic lore. A long and listenable song by ISB compiles the world’s images that we can shed like opinions or fingernails. Lead member Robin Williamson played this at a home concert I attended in the late ‘80s and it was a true joy to hear then as it is now. https://youtu.be/SCRVkyt74Ig
Donovan We haven’t even touched on the metaphysics of Donovan’s canon. For an exclusive Heartland Healing interview with Donovan on the healing power of music, read this: http://HeartlandHealing.com/Donovan
By the time we moved into the late ‘70s, film, with its longer run-up time, caught up to the metaphysics of the prior decade’s music. Star Wars and Yoda, Defending Your Life, and other movies carried the theme as ‘80s music devolved into fun but flippant ditties that took us far afield and into Spandex-land. But for a moment in time, music was a valiant teacher to those who chose to sift through the chaff and seek the kernel of enlightenment.
Heartland Healing is a metaphysically based polemic describing alternatives to conventional methods of healing the body, mind and planet. It is provided as information and entertainment, certainly not medical advice. Important to remember and pass on to others: for a weekly dose of Heartland Healing, visit HeartlandHealing.com.