San Francisco (Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair)

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1. "Summertime" - Janis Joplin version and then the Broadway version (treat as one song)

"Summertime" - Broadway version: Nikki Renee Daniels, Joshua Henry, Natasha Yvette Williams & Company. The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess: New Broadway Cast Recording (don't worry if you can't find this exact recording, any broadway version would be fine).

One commentator described Joplin’s version of Summertime as "cliché" and accused Joplin of simulating “a burlesque, even stereotyped, African American blues queen.” Meanwhile, the more traditional, Broadway version of Summertime is often thought of as a traditional gospel song but was actually written by two white guys for their Opera, Porgy & Bess. How would you describe the difference between these two versions? Do you think Janis Joplin’s version is a clichéd version of a black blues singer?

In description of these two versions of summertime, there are outwardly seen aspects of racism in the opera. Even though the criticism was completely fair during those times. Even if the trend in these two versions had started to fade, these two guys on the covers are still featuring actors in blackface. Even though the opera of Gershwin really tried to put an end to the tradition of the blackface, this was as well labeled racist. In these two versions, the disastrous poverty adjacent the charms’ lives are discharged in one song in a language that recapped many of the general minstrel show representations of the ignorant yet happy slave. I don’t think that Janis Joplin’s version is a clichéd version of a black blues singer. This is because she really participated in recording songs in major studios and in here she played main roles in those preparations and production of songs which were to comprise companies like Big Brother.

2. "San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Some Flowers in Your Hair)" - Scott McKenzie

While this song became an iconic part of San Francisco counterculture history, it was widely criticized by many within the counterculture. For one thing, it was written and produced in Los Angeles, but it was also thought to worsen the problem of runaway youth coming to San Francisco.

Talbot’s discussion of the Diggers who were critical of counterculture figures with messages like in this song – do you think this was a valid critique that extends to this song? What about the Digger’s own work with the free food and the Free Store?

According to what I think the critique extending to this song was not valid. As a matter of fact, this record was really good. McKenzie might have somehow made something similar to a hippie straight out of the central forming, the lyrics in the song might have approached on the copy of advertising, but the whole song has a tune or the melody which is soaring and a production which is great. Just like how many 60’s songs used to be, it was packed somehow in an action. On the important part, of course, San Francisco was a Los Angeles so record which was so deep and therefore it lays a struggle of power. Since 1966 after the passing of the swinging London, many cities of America had vowed to become the center of pop, which had to be the center of the nation. But with the scene of many records, cities like Los Angeles was in a position of running in the year 1966.

            In other words, this was not valid critique extending to this song because, in San Francisco, the scene which was known as the Haight/Ashbury was growing since the year 1995. This was a growth which was accompanying a small and delicate ecology of groups, community shops and papers, ballrooms, activists and idealists which were used to be known as hippies. While a lot of activities engrossed on the psychedelic drugs, there were also these ideas of ecology, sustainability and autonomy. This was a vision of the new world and also brand-new person type that there was a possibility of it to have been compromised and unrealistic, but this however provided such a powerful ideal. Haight/Ashbury as well went over ground in the terms of the news with the Human Be-In of January 1967 and from there now it became a mecca and a refuge for those American teens who were rebellious. On the part of the Digger’s own work with the free food and the Free Store, this was a serious side of laying a complain. This is because they were involved in those problems which were practical of dealing with these so many runways. This is because they noted that the song’s lyrics were reckless at best if not deceitful: “gentle people with flowers in their hair” was not the certainty. 

3. “YMCA” – The Village People

"Y.M.C.A."is a song recorded by American disco group Village People. It is one of fewer than forty singles to have sold 10 million (or more) copies worldwide. The song remains popular and is played at many sporting events in the U.S. and Europe. The song also remains particularly popular due to its status as a disco classic and gay anthem, even among listeners who are otherwise uninvolved in disco or gay culture. The song reached No. 2 on the U.S. charts in early 1979. Can you reconcile the success of Harvey Milk in San Francisco and his subsequent assassination at the end of 1978 with the popularity of this song a few months later? Why or why not (reference elements from the movie and YouTube video clip)

            I can reconcile the success of Harvey Milk in San Francisco and his subsequent assassination at the end of 1978 with the popularity of this song a few months later. I have numerous reasons to why am reconciling to this. The main reason is that, the popularity and the content of this song and life style of Harvey Milk used to be one and the same thing. This song was used to be obliquely understood as reveling the reputation of the YMCA which meant, Young Men’s Christian Association, as a popular cruising and a spot a hooking up. This was particularly addressing those young men. This song was mainly used by many young men who used to be gay as their anthem. The main goal of this song was to mainly attract those gay audience to the disco and this made the song to become more and more popular within several months.

Harvey Milk being the first gay official to be elected to the Board of Supervisors of San Francisco, used this song as an anthem as well and this brought him a certain success as he became more popular within those few months in 1978.  Harvey had migrated from New York to San Francisco during the migration of bisexual and gay men. His success was born during that time when he took advantage of growing himself politically and economically in order to endorse his interests. Then after the release of this song in 1978, he went ahead and passed the stringent rights of the gay ordinance in San Francisco. After flowing with all the popularity of this song through several months, he was assassinated by Dan White together with George Moscone who was a mayor. Even though he didn’t take that long politics, Harvey became an icon in San Francisco and also a martyr in the community of gay people through the little help of the popularity of the song YMCA by The Village People.

4. “California Uber Alles” – Dead Kennedys

“What’s So Funny About Peace Love and Understanding” – Elvis Costello

(Treat as two songs in terms of length of response)

“California Uber Alles” is a satiric look at Jerry Brown during his earlier term as California governor by Dead Kennedy’s lead singer Jello Biafra, released in 1979. Contrast this with “What’s So Funny About Peace Love and Understanding” recorded by punk icon Elvis Costello in 1978. Some say that the punk movement was in opposition to the hippie philosophy of peace and love whereas others saw it as a logical extension of youth rebellion in the new environment of the Reagan era. Do these two songs represent opposing points of view or are they two sides of the same coin? Point to elements from the Goon Squad that reflects this tension between the hippies and the punks in San Francisco.

These two songs are in two sides of the same coin. On the first son which is “California Uber Alles” – Dead Kennedys, I tend to think that the factor things in it is all about how the power which is corruptive becomes. A good example is how an apparently laid-back hippie by the name J. Brown can become just like Hitler if he got the resources. Like on that part, “serpent’s eggs already hatched”, I tend to think that it is refereeing to Julius Caesar. Basically, what happens here is that Caesar was a leader who was very popular and his closet friend was Brutus. What was happening here is that Brutus was fearing that Caesar was too bright and ambitious that f he was given that much power he would overturn him and turn him into a tyrant. Therefore, this song is basically based on criticism that underneath of love and equality lies a fascist impulse.

The other song to contrast with is “What’s So Funny About Peace Love and Understanding” recorded by punk icon Elvis Costello. This songs outlays exactly how the human race be. There’s nothing hurting like the kind of intolerance and hate which happens to be there in the world. And the questions that runs through my mind is what’s so funny about love, peace and understanding? Why is there so much killings, hatred and fighting in this world? I think everyone should be very okay and sorted without all those killings. According tom this song, all these things happen to occur so surely and people should realize that it is not a good thing and the change. In general, this song it's all about the termination of the hippie era, when other people were coming back as one and caring for each other and more humane, world appeared to be at the reach of fingers. This happened until it all got promoted or marketed just like any other product and the trend passed, making the motto which was based on peace and love be like its dated and subject to jokes by many individuals.

December 12, 2023

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