“People try to put us down
just because we get around
things they do look awful c-c-cold
I hope I die before I’m old” —– The Who
What to do on a rainy day? Notting Hill and the Portobella Market would be more fun sans umbrella, so we considered a museum. My cousin Kath recommended the Victoria and Albert, but Mike was less than enthusiastic. Still, it was on my list of “wanna-sees.” Okay, we’d go there.
I checked V & A website, and the rock-n-roll gods were with me. The V & A is now featuring a special exhibit called, “You Say You Want a Revolution? Records and Rebels 1966 – 1970.” Mike perked up.
What an exhibit! We donned headphones and stepped back into the era of our college days while a soundtrack of the 60’s played in our ears.
Fashion, trends, music, and political activism — it was all there. We began with a dress of Twiggy’s, videos of JFK in Germany and then in Dallas, original posters of the ones I remember on our dorm room walls, boxes of albums we could paw through. (Yep, we found a couple of the ones that still sit in a box in our basement.)
Lots of Fab Four stuff: Lennon and McCartney’s suits from the Sargeant Pepper album, George Harrison’s sitar, and many, many original drafts written by John or Paul: “I Want to Hold Your Hand”, “The Taxman”, ” Help”. Rolling Stones? A funky jump suit worn by Mick Jagger.
The route walked us through the tumult of the time, with artifacts and video clips of the Vietnam War and the protest that surrounded it, like Democratic convention in Chicago in ’68 and the horrible killings at Kent State, the psychedelic drug culture, the Black Power movement, the beginning of the women’s movement, the landing on the moon, Expo ’67, and the birth of the calculator ( bigger than an overgrown Smith and Corona) and the computer.
An entire room, carpeted in green shag and strewn with bean bag chairs for lounging. was devoted to Woodstock. On huge screens, the Who, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix played the music we all know. Around the room, we gaped at the original list of performers and what they were paid (The Who — paid nothing) along with The Who’s drum set, clothes worn by Grace Slick, Jimi Hendrix, Mama Cass.
At the end, the exhibit summed up the impact and significance of the era. The last stop: John Lennon’s draft of what might be his masterpiece while the beautiful song played in our ears. Just imagine!