ANTHEM, Book 3 of the Sixties Trilogy, publishes on October 1. Each of the book’s 47 chapters begins with a song from the Sixties to set the tone, mood, and scene. Every day between now and October 1, come have a listen and read a snippet from each chapter. On October 1, these posts will be archived with a link at ANTHEM’s webpage for #teachingAnthem1969
This is Chapter 30 (day 18):
PEOPLE GOT TO BE FREE
Written by Felix Cavaliere and Eddie Brigati
Performed by the Rascals
Recorded at Atlantic Studios, New York, New York 1968
Drummer: Dino Danelli
A young man with a thick head of wild black hair and a bushy beard interrupted Molly’s thoughts. “There are lots of us here,” he said. “We’re trying to create what we never had, or we’re making room for whatever is coming, because something is coming, something is asking for expression.”
“It’s the Age of Aquarius,” said Ben. “Harmony is coming.”
“Struggle is coming,” said the weathered man. He nodded to Norman and Molly. “Maybe you’ll find what you seek here with us. We’re all meeting tomorrow in the Aspen Meadow above Santa Fe for solstice. Come with us. Bring your bus. You can go on your way from there, if you want. But come see.”
“We leave early in the morning,” Molly said before Norman could answer.
“Too bad,” said Sadie. She smiled at Norman, who blushed.
“Go in peace,” said Ben.
I have a feeling they will go in peace… to the solstice celebration in the Aspen Meadow. Otherwise, what is fiction for?
First, though, a night around the fire at New Buffalo, where the philosophies of the counterculture are revealed. “We don’t need things for the sake of having things,” said a girl with freckles and glasses. “We don’t need a lot of money. What we need is community and caring.”
That’s for starters. “People Got to be Free” was a huge hit for the Rascals in 1968, an upbeat song all about freedom and tolerance and peace. “Peace in the valley, people got to be free.”
We were supposed to sing it at my senior class “revue” before graduation, at Clark Air Force Base, in the Philippines, where my dad was stationed the last of my high school years, in 1971. Somewhere Franny’s dad might have been stationed, in COUNTDOWN.
Someone changed the tune, though, at the last minute, and there was a great hubbub over it, as I remember. It suddenly, at the height of the Vietnam War, wasn’t an appropriate song. Someone suggested “We Gotta Get Out of This Place” by the Animals, which was worse, lyrics-wise (but the chorus was great).
Eventually “Get Together” by the Youngbloods won out, and we 17- and 18-year-olds living overseas on the cusp of adulthood and in the middle of an unpopular war we didn’t understand but saw our fathers fighting every day, began to learn to pay attention.
We’ll meet some of those touched by the Vietnam War in future chapters. For now, we have a solstice celebration to attend.