The other day, I was watching one of those half-hour late-night Time-Life music commercials.
Call it odd if you will, but back before The Midnight Special and MTV, you heard bands on radio, but never saw most of them. Video clips are few and rare. I'm not buying any hundred-CD sets, but it's fun to put faces with the music.
And even if it was before my time, I'm fascinated to sample the bulk of hit music from a particular era - put together, the songs deliver the feel, the emotion, and an idea of what mattered to the young people at that time.
So, I'm deep into discovering the music of the Woodstock generation on this particular evening, nodding along to the classics and the video clips of the concert scene, when something disturbing occurred to me.
That generation of beautiful young kids with flowers in their hair and peace-sign patches on their bell bottoms, have become the uptight, extremist, establishment old-guard of today.
I wonder if they can even recognize their former selves?
At least some of those kids who marched for civil rights then, are now demanding razor-wire walls build around the country to keep people out, or in, or whatever it is they think they want to accomplish.
Those people, who at least in some cases, probably sampled Acapulco gold or Panama red outside some music hall or head shop, are the ones today blocking medicinal marijuana for people with chronic illnesses. And insisting on prison rather than treatment for those with drug issues.
One thing struck me while watching those frustratingly-abbreviated clips of the '60s music - despite being an era of clash, protest and tumult - the music is in greatest part optimistic and happy and peaceful. "What a day for a daydream..."
I wonder what Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Richie Havens, Jerry Garcia and Tom Fogerty would think of our society today?
Forty-seven years on, and judging from the headlines of recent dark days, we still haven't fully solved Civil Rights issues between black and white Americans. We still haven't fully learned to love others - even our own immigrant neighbors. "Take another little piece of my heart now baby."
No matter how many people are killed, we can't even begin to talk together on any form of gun control.
We have allowed higher learning to become so expensive that it is out of the reach of some families, and will guarantee decades of crushing debt for others.
Half of our leaders are doing their best to get rid of affordable health care coverage for lower-income people, pretty much out of spite, with nothing better to offer. We can't decide if gays should be married.
After forty-seven years, we still have people homeless and hungry in our communities. We haven't fixed Social Security. We make seniors live with no cost-of-living increase, and students labor for $7.25 for corporations that earn billions in profits on their backs. And now we're shutting down facilities for much-needed mental health care.
The people we elect are busy arguing about email, the president's birth certificate, which picture is on a $20 bill and who has a confederate flag on their desk instead of addressing any of the real issues of our time.
Much of the national news media is as partisan as the so-called leaders, and no one even questions the twisting of the facts any more. Where have you gone, Walter Cronkite?
Our government can't even manage to fill its own Supreme Court, and we permit or even sanction such foolishness.
We've been at our vaguely-defined military "conflict" in the Middle East for 10 years now (as of last March 19) - longer than the involvement in Vietnam that the young people protested all those years ago.
Even the music of late often seems violent and bleak. Childhood for some is wasted in front of a first-person shooter game. Can't blame them, when their parents are childishly obsessed with Pokemon. Pong, this isn't.
I wonder what those wide-eyed idealistic teenagers of the "Summer of Love" generation, so sure of change and peace, would think of what they - what we - have become. Maybe they don't remember at all.
A few may be free-thinker, nature-loving, poetry-literate, non-conformist rock and rolling bohemians still. My older sister, Ellen, who passed away recently, was never anything else, not for a day.
But our politics today have turned angry and neurotic and vindictive - maybe more so than during the Nixon administration. Our societal innocence may not be lost, but it sure is missing in action.
The VW Bugs of their youth are long rusted into oblivion, but there are plenty of $87,000, 15 mpg CTS-V's out there for the former Woodstocker's to aspire to.
The old music was great, it was a half hour well spent. I don't know if there's anything in the Billboard chart today that will still be listened to in six months, let alone 47 years from now.
But it's the idealism that should be missed the most. When all that hair hit the barbershop floors, did that get swept away with it?