"San Francisco Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair"
In 1967, Scott Mckenzie’s “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)” was a clarion call to young kids who, like myself, were isolated in the soul numbing suburbs of America. Yes, the song is naive and somewhat corny, but in its day it really was an anthem for a generation of disaffected white kids looking for something beyond the high school walls. It worked for me.
By the time I arrived in the Haight Ashbury in 1968 the Summer of Love had passed and the neighborhood was gradually becoming a cattle yard for runaways. Tourist buses clogged the streets, sightseers were everywhere and kids with no money were spare changing and ripping off weekend hippies by selling them bogus drugs. I spent most of my time on Hippie Hill in Golden Gate Park reading books of poetry that I’d borrowed from City Lights Bookstore in North Beach (thanks Lawrence).
The flowers of the counterculture were starting to wilt, but it was still a great time for a rock and roll fan to be living in San Francisco. I was going to concerts at the Matrix and The Fillmore seeing Traffic, The Incredible String Band, Eric Burdon and War, It’s A Beautiful Day, Albert King, The Dead (who I’ve never liked, now or then) Big Brother and The Holding Company, Country Joe and The Fish, The Peanut Butter Conspiracy, The Jefferson Airplane, Quicksilver Messenger Service - a shitload of music, both great and not so great. But even the not so great stuff was still mindblowing to a 17 year old kid from Falls Church, Virginia.
For the record, I never wore a flower in my hair.
Here’s a seldom seen video from French TV of Mckenzie singing his big hit written by John Phillips.