1969

A double celebration for us today, two parties, both with their origins in November 1969. The magazine covers above all date from fifty years ago- Cosmopolitan asking whether you’d rather be his wife or his mistress, Vogue leading with Twiggy, winter fashion and beauty and tarot cards for good measure and Popular Science with jet-packs.

This afternoon we are at a party for my parent’s fiftieth wedding anniversary, who got married fifty years ago yesterday. I came along in May 1970- it was quite late on when I worked out the maths on that. Then tonight we are at a friend’s 50th birthday party- his birthday was yesterday as well so he was born as my Mum and Dad tied the knot. Here we all are half a century later.

1969 in song gives so many opportunities but I’m going for this from The Stooges, the high octane, electrifying, wild, end of the decade brilliance that opens their debut album. Ron Asheton’s wah wah guitar intro and the single hammer bang drum lead in Iggy’s ‘well alright’ and then the group swing in bludgeoning the speakers, Iggy reeling off his stupidly clever lyrics about being twenty two and having nothing to do- meanwhile Vietnam burns and tears the USA in two, Nixon is in the White House, the FBI declares war on the Black Panther Party, Northern Ireland simmers with discontent, men walk on the moon, the hippie tribes gather at Woodstock and the Isle of Wight, the Stonewall riots mark the birth of the gay rights movement, the Manson Family commit mass murder, a coup in Libya brings Gaddafi to power, Brian Jones drowns at Pooh Corner, William Calley is charged with murder following the massacre at My Lai, Scooby Doo, Monty Python, Sesame Street and The Clangers all debut, the USA and USSR meet to talk about nuclear weapon reductions and the year ends with Rolf Harris at the top of the UK charts. ‘Oh my and a boo hoo’.

1969

The press didn’t take to The Stooges debut album. Rolling Stone said it was ‘loud, boring, tasteless, unimaginative and childish’. The Village Voice called it was ‘stupid-rock’. In retrospect however those criticisms (apart from the bit about it being boring which it clearly isn’t) make it sound utterly perfect.