'The music emerged from and drove the movement. So when I listen to it, it fills me with all those feelings: the golden optimism, naivety, new love, heartfelt compassion, the horrors of modern warfare and the growing collective anger. It speaks to a kind of lived experience that I don't hear in a lot of music today. I’m not talking about the charts - even the more cutting edge bands. It’s like they are playing good music but - in Sixties' terminology - they’re not plugged into anything bigger than themselves. It leaves the music shallow, just another song floating in the ether. Today people seem to be saying: Look at me. But in the Sixties, people were saying: Look at that! And the things they were pointing out were huge. The era was infused with great musicians who were intellectually curious, and politically progressive, singing-speaking-and-doing in one fluid movement.’
‘I totally agree,’ said Sunny. ‘It’s like what I was saying at the bar. Today it all feels so hashtag: #tokenism, #emptygesture #fakeinterest.
‘Exactly. Where is Jimi Hendrix now? Sorry, I mean #JimiHendrix.’
She smirked. ‘Is he your favorite musician from the era?’
‘Yeah, they’re all exceptional, and made all the more powerful … profound, I guess, by the fact that they were something like feedback; telling the story as it unfolded, simultaneously fuelling it. I like the fact that the music charts the decade’s evolving mood, from the innocence and optimism in the early Beatles’ simple one-two, love-love me do, through to the acoustic protest songs, and on to the later years’ psychedelic rock that culminated, exploded and imploded at Woodstock.
‘Hendrix took it to its zenith in '69 when he gnarled and mangled the Star Spangled Banner, tearing away its candied nationalistic triumphalism to reveal the true nature of the American Dream: greed, intolerance, subjugation and violence. It’s like he became a lightning conductor, a divining rod for the decade’s love and hate, optimism and fear, curiosity and ignorance, hope and rage, expressing it in five minutes of pure epoch-defining purple haze, voodoo child magic. Look, he said: Look. Here is the American Dream, and here is its long shadow in which the depraved annihilate and assimilate with impunity.’