I might not have gone braless, but in every other way I'm a child of the Sixties. I remember it all as if it were yesterday: the Mary Quant matching tops and tights (garish); the white go-go boots and white lipstick to match; the trips to the Village (i.e. Greenwich Village in New York) for dangling earrings, incense, posters and peasant blouses; the Kennedy assassination; ironing my hair to make it look straight and silky (it never did) like Michelle's from the Mamas and the Papas; dancing wildly to Satisfaction at parties in sixth grade ("did Mick Jagger really say PREGNANT???"); Dustin Hoffman so young and adorable in The Graduate - how we all identified with his disdain of his parents' materialistic values: "Son, the future is in plastics"; the endless, incensed arguments with my uncle who actually believed in the Domino Theory and the justness of American involvement in Vietnam ("Uncle Herbie, how can you believe that b...t? You sound just like a redneck from the South!!") Woodstock [OK, I wasn't actually there - I was in summer camp - but I was in Port Jervis N.Y., not far......;-)) ]
Ah, and the music. The music. There is nothing like the music of the Sixties. NOTHING. The Beatles, the first among equals. The "bad boys", the Rolling Stones, the antithesis of the wholesome, rosy-cheeked image the Beatles projected (at least at the beginning). You either hated Mick Jagger for his ugliness and vulgarity or you adored him for precisely those reasons. The Beach Boys. The Lovin' Spoonful. Sexy Gracie Slick and the Jefferson Airplane. I wanted to be her up there on stage singing White Rabbit. The Turtles. Herman and the Hermits. "Young Girl, Get out of My Mind, my love for you is way out of line ..." (oof, who sang that?? ). Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Joan Baez, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Simon and Garfunkel, Cat Stevens , Aretha Franklin, The Supremes, the Four Tops, ... Who comes to YOUR mind?
So fantasize a situation where you can actually recreate a semblance of the Sixties at your own school and you get an idea what Sixties Night at Yigal Alon High School of the Arts and Sciences in Ramat HaSharon was like on Thursday, March 19th, 2009.
Two years ago I organized, together with Eli Fichman, a History teacher, Beatles Night. The evening was so wonderful, so uplifting for everyone, that it left us with a taste for more. It was clear to us that the music of this era is as beloved by the younger generation as it is by ours, and it would not take much prodding to get our pupils enthusiastic about participating in another show dedicated to music of the Sixties.
That's not quite true, of course. Pupils always need prodding. They have exams and Scouts and don't have time to practice. They are too preoccupied with their latest girlfriend or boyfriend and they forget there are auditions. They don't read the announcements on the forums. They don't read e-mails. (But they DO read their SMSes faithfully. This became the most effective mode of communication as the date of the performance approached).
I will not tire you with all the details, the last-minute heart attacks when three days before the show you call the company that is supposed to provide the amplification equipment and they don't know what you're talking about. Or the SMS from a pupil who cancels out on the day of the show because of a family emergency and you know that his song is the best song of the evening. Or the pupil in charge of the video clips who left one of the DVDs at home and it's 6:00 PM and the show is scheduled to start in two hours and he lives in Tel Aviv.
Perhaps I'm an inveterate optimist but my motto is "Things always work out in the end," and they did. The boy who couldn't come was replaced at the last minute by the most versatile and talented pupil in the Music Department, who learned his part in thirty minutes. The sound man did some last-minute juggling of his schedule and showed up because "he couldn't let us down." We used another video clip.
What can I tell you, ladies and gentlemen? It was a wonderful show. I guess you want to know what was performed. Well, we started off with a clip of a young, sweet Elvis clad in a soldier's uniform, singing "It's Now or Never." Then came four pupils starting off the live music with a rendition of The Who's My Generation so wildly energetic that you could have sworn it was Roger Daltrey up there, followed by four boys who performed a barbershop version of Barbara Ann, and then we had ...
OK, I won't bore you with the entire two-hour program. I can send anybody interested a DVD of the show ;-)). Or you can check it out on youtube ;-)) . But I'll give a few highlights: The Beatles Come Together and Drive My Car, Janis Joplin's A Piece of My Heart, Simon and Garfunkel's America and Bridge over Troubled Water, Joni Mitchell's Gallery, Aretha Franklin's Chain of Fools, and the original clips from the Ed Sullivan show ("and heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee're they are ... The Rolling Stones!") of Mick Jagger singing Satisfaction and Jim Morrison singing Light My Fire. Life just doesn't get any better than that, does it?
And since Eli Fichman is a History teacher, he contributed his extensive body of knowledge on the period, via a trivia quiz which related to cultural and historical events of the Sixties. Some questions: (Answers at the end!)
Winners were entitled to choose as a prize one of the 60s posters that I had combed the stores of New York for last summer and which were hanging on the wall behind the stage. (remember the Rolling Stones poster of a huge bright red tongue lasciviously sticking out? That was one of them).
- Who sang the theme song of the James Bond film "Goldfinger?"
- What was the name of the trendiest street in London in the 1960s?
- What phrase was used to coin the liberal-democratic movement in Czechoslovakia that was suppressed by the Soviets in 1968?
- Who was the leader of this movement?
- What fruit graced the 1967 album cover of the New York band "Velvet Underground?
- Who designed the album cover?
The mayor of Ramat HaSharon even got in on the act and performed a song in Hebrew called התשמע קולי originally sung by חלונות גבוהים, a group that was popular in Israel in the 1960's.
What was missing? Well, I wish we had had go-go dancers in white boots, a la Hullabaloo, accompanying the musicians. Too bad Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan weren't in Israel at the time; I'm sure they would have come ;-)). But most of all, I wish all my friends who grew up with me in the 60s could have been there.
Will Eli and I do Seventies Night next year at school? Of course. You are all cordially invited. It'll be groovy, man.
- Shirley Bassett
- Prague Spring
- Alexander Dubcek
- Andy Warhol
- Carnaby Street