From Woodstock to Occupy Wall Street. Where do I fit in?
When I was 11 years old, I made a discovery. I had found a book in my mom's library called "Hippies." It had cool flowers on the cover and bubble writing. She had owned it since the early 70s. I was immediately intrigued. The book was kind of boring and hard for me to understand, but I had a new obsession. Hippies. Who were these people? What were they about? How can I become one?
I rented "Woodstock: 3 days of Peace and music.." If you have never seen this documentary, you are dead to me. Go rent it right now. In fact, I have an extra copy of the DVD. You can have it. WATCH IT. It's not only a beautiful film, it's a poignant moment in time. Everyone involved in that project believed in the same thing: Peace, love, and music.
I fell in love instantly. I watched the movie over and over again. I started quoting it nonstop, "I mean we ball and everything, but we're just friends." I asked my mom to buy me a guitar. I made tye-dye shirts and had a hippie themed birthday party. I got the 25 year anniversary Box Set with all the CDs and listened to them non stop. I learned every single lyric to "Joe Hill" by Joan Baez and made my family listen to every verse acapella in the living room. I didn't even know what that protest song was about. What's a union? But I didn't care. It was the music. That music! And the culture. There was something so innocent and optimistic about it. People who really believed they could change the world. People who sort of ran free and picked flowers and bathed naked in lakes and slid down muddy hills. I wanted this sort of freedom. I wanted to be a folk singer. And I definitely wanted to be a hippie. I started burning incense. (I still do, btw.)
My dad and step mom loved that. (NOT)
I would be burning incense and listening to Melanie sing "Beautiful People" on repeat. A parent would barge in the door, "Do you know these people are on drugs!" Yes, I did. And I thought they were the coolest people ever.
I quickly started wondering, where were my parents during Woodstock? What they hell were they doing that they couldn't make it to the coolest thing that ever happened during their youth. So Mom and Dad, where were you during Woodstock? They were studying or some bullshit. Like preparing for their future and whatnot! My Dad was at Harvard and my mom was at Welsley and they wore turtlenecks and corduroy blazers and read poetry and smoked pipes and sang in choirs. They were preppy nerds. Woodstock was not on their radar. They really didn't give a shit.
How could this be? I thought as a teen. How lame are my parents! Where is their passion! Where is their sense of adventure! Why aren't they cool!!!!
I am now 3o years young, and in retrospect I understand my parents more and more. In the wake of Occupy Wall street and the uprising of youth all over the country, I feel a little removed from the whole situation. I'm less of a hippie and more of a square. I'm experiencing what it is like to have a life during times of great social unrest and uprising. Sometimes the people are over there on another street protesting and you're over here, doing your job and writing songs. Even in a culture where we are so connected all the time on the internet - where news travels at the speed of light, and opinions are shared like wildfire - it's easy to feel disconnected to the pulse. I watch the Occupy videos online and read the updates on Huffingtonpost and such, but I don't relate. i don't even really have an opinion about it. And I don't know why. I'm a hippie at heart for goshsakes! Why aren't I running downtown to carry a banner and pass out daisys and sing "Joe Hill"?
Maybe it's narcissism. Or denial. Maybe it's over my head. Maybe I'm scared of the mobs, or I don't want to deal with parking. Maybe I'm jaded and don't believe that any of this will actually make a difference for our country or any of us who are struggling financially. Maybe I have other things to do, like figure out how to pay my bills and get my hair done on a dime. Maybe I'm just shallow. Who knows. I guess I'm part of the 99%. I dont have health insurance, I can't afford my taxes. But I come from a well to do family. I could get bailed out in a heart beat if I asked, and I do sometimes. Maybe it's that I feel I'm related to the 1% by blood and therefore, there isn't a place for me in all this. But it's about injustice. It's about unfair distribution of wealth. I understand that. I just don't know what to do about it! And maybe I don't care enough. I feel awful writing that.
Doesn't everyone want to be a part of history? Being a part of a movement is so intoxicating. I think that's why half the people are there in the parks and squares, sleeping in tents. Group mentality can feel very powerful and it's nice to get swept along in it. We all are just looking for a purpose in life. Hoping that in some way our little lives will matter. Maybe our voice will be heard.
So maybe that's why I'm content to go about with my life without occupying the streets. I feel I know what I'm here to do. And I do it. I feel my purpose coursing through my veins. So maybe I'm not a hippie at heart, like I thought. But I am a folk singer. And I can write a song. And that can be my contribution. I just need to do a little observation to get some fodder. So...
That being said, If anyone in LA is interested, a part of me wants to go check out the front lines. So that when my kids say, where were you during Occupy Wall Street??? Why the hell weren't you there? I can say, "I was, bitches! And this is what happened." Wrote a song about it, wanna hear it, here it goes!