Thursday, April 11, 2013

It Was Twenty Years Ago Today

1987, undated later edition, from Simon & Schuster
Derek Taylor
It Was Twenty Years Ago Today
Original price $9.95, purchase price $2.00
Worn paperback

Long-time Beatles associate Taylor, who died of cancer a decade after this book was published, looks back at not just Sgt. Pepper and the Summer of Love, but the whole kaleidoscopic year of 1967.  This book was sort of a spin-off of a twentieth-anniversary television documentary he worked on, so there are lots of quotes from Paul, George, and others who were there (most but not all of them recognisable names).  The book is very rambling, going back and forth across time, but the charm, humour, and optimism of both Taylor and those times come through.  The photos, some in color, add much to the book, and I like that they're not all the usual pictures.  (The shot of Janis Joplin and Grace Slick singing together is great, and balances out a bit the mostly male focus.)

Reading the book right after Great Cosmic Mother, I can definitely see "pagan" strands in the 1960s, from bright colors to catchy music to free love to pacifism.  I also found this book made the '60s and the participants (even Norman Mailer!) more appealing than my other "looking back" books, especially Generation in Motion (1979).  Not that Taylor ignores what was bad about the decade, but he has a point that '67 was the high (yes, in every sense).  One thing that surprised me was how inclusive Taylor was, not sneering at the Monkees, and even giving Bob "Gilligan" Denver a moment to shine.  (Denver and other celebrities supported the "kids" in '66's Sunset Strip riots.) 

Taylor has some deservedly harsh things to say about the 1980s, from cocaine (as in the SNL book, a drug that brought out much worse qualities in people than marijuana) to money-grubbing.  So the book is a product of its time as much as it is a nostalgia trip.

No comments:

Post a Comment