Tuesday, February 11, 2014

# 29 Paul Butterfield in film You Are What You Eat.

    Words are just intricate little symbols that transmit meaning to us. A single word can create vivid images in our minds, and yet, a short time later, that same word, might be removed from our speech, and relegated to the confines of the dictionary. Slang is a good place to watch the life and death of a word. In our youth, most of us remember using slang, only to be told by an older generation that the word has no meaning to them. However, there are examples of slang which seem to transcend several generations.
     For example, in the early twentieth century, the word hip is used in African American slang to identify someone who is in the know. Then, during the forties, people who use Harlem Jazz slang use hip and hep to identify someone is in the know and consequently, cool. By the 50's, a subculture of young people who call themselves Beatniks attach themselves to the Be-Bop Jazz culture, (It isn't the other way around as depicted in the media), and in the process adopt much of the slang living in that culture.

    These Beatniks or Beats are a relatively small group of young people who feel disenfranchised by the mainstream corporate values. Their response to pressures from conformists is an attachment 
to the philosophies of the Counter Culture Movement. Typically, these rebellious young Beatniks garner some negative attention from parents, politicians and mainstream media, but to their admirers, they are labeled hip or hipsters.

    By the early sixties, there is a growing number of these hipster Beatniks living in San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury, and New York City's Greenwich Village. It is from these two neighbourhoods that the new word, hippie is born.

    While the hippies do share similar socio-political philosophies with the Beatniks, they seem to have a heavier focus on the use of psychedelic drugs. They often promote the rejection of corporate values through the expansion of the mind with drugs like L.S.D., peyote, mescaline in addition to marijuana, and hashish.

   Young people who feel disenfranchised by mainstream values is not a new social dynamic, it has been here longer than any of us will ever remember. However, in the 60's the shear number of young people calling themselves hippies is staggering. To make matters worse for "old" people, these hippies are really vocal about their dedication to the counter culture values. Consequently, society is confronted with the problem of a huge number of entitled baby boomers, hippies, rebelling against the stubborn status quo. The direction of this conflict seems so predictable, posturing from both camps, leading to a showdown.

    In the case of these Counter Culture Hippies versus Mainstream Corporate Society, the showdown takes place at the Monterey Pop Festival. This is where the Hippie Movement, and their values are lead into a corporate arena, and treated like lambs to the slaughterMonterey should be viewed in history as the event where the Counter Culture sells out to the Entertainment Industry.

    Rock music acts a very important bridge between the social, and political changes that young people are demanding, and consequently they are vulnerable when offered the Monterey Pop Festival. Most people have a very emotional connection to music, but in the 60's, the emotional connection young people have to their music is very powerful.

    After Monterey, The Hippie becomes a mere one dimensional character in a series of novels, television dramas, the Evening News, popular music, and mainstream films. Their values are trivialized, and so is their fashion sense, language, and all the other symbols of The Hippie Movement. In the arena called Monterey, the ideology of a generation becomes the victim of mass marketing campaigns.

    By the early 70's most of the ideas people associate with the hippie movement will be as thin as the messages on the catchy posters that cover the bedroom walls of millions of kids across the Western World. I remember two:  H.I.P.P.I.E - Helping In Producing Peaceful Individual Existence, and Dope will get you through times of no money better than times of no dope.

    So, what does all of this have to do with Paul Butterfield?  Judging by his dress, and the language he uses in interviews, Butterfield doesn't seem too emotionally connected to the hippie movement. His vocabulary suggests he is more attached to the New York Be-Bop Beatniks than the Hippies.

   However, the hippie movement is attached to his music, partly, because its intent resonates with young people, but at least some of his commercial success is the result of the marketing done by Elektra and Albert Grossman.

   After Monterey, one of the first Freak-Out films directed at the Hippie Movement is You Are What You Eat. (the title is a reference to the use of L.S.D.)  It is a pseudo-documentary dealing with the identity crisis facing the youth of the day, and is told through a series of montages of events taking place in the East Village, NYC, Haight-Ashbury, S.F., and the Sunset Strip in Hollywood. Today the movie is really only relevant to nostalgic veterans of "back in the day", historians, and fans of Paul Butterfield.

    You Are What You Eat is long out of print, but the soundtrack is still available online. It features many of the new Rock Stars of a generation, and of course, Paul Butterfield performing the title track. (see the bottom of this post).

    However, if you take a closer look at the project leaders, and artist names, you will notice a strong connection to Albert Grossman's stable of musicians who live and work out of Woodstock, N.Y. . In the music scene of the 60's Grossman is the king of the artist managers.

    In 1968, this might have been a hip movie, but today it just appears so disjointed, amateurish, and dated.  As for those words, hip and hipsters, they are still in use, but hippie is almost dead.

1) Teenage Fair: By John Simon/Peter Yarrow. Rosco (narration), John Simon (ondiolin, organ, vocal), Peter Yarrow (vocal), Nancy Pliday (vocal), Bill Crow (bass), Bill Lavorgna (drums)

2) Moments of Soft Persuasion: By John Simon/Peter Yarrow. Peter Yarrow (vocal, acoustic guitar), John Simon (electric piano).

3) Silly Girl:  By John Simon/Peter Yarrow. Peter Yarrow (vocal, acoustic guitar), John Simon (organ), Bill Crow (bass), Unknown (2nd guitar).

4) Desert Moog Music: By John Simon. John Simon (moog, ondiolin, percussion), Peter Yarrow (percussion), Al Gorgoni (guitar), Unknown (2nd guitar).

5) Be My Baby:  By J. Barry/E. Greenwitch/P. Spector. Tiny Tim (vocal), Robbie Robertson (guitar), Garth Hudson (organ), Richard Manuel (piano), Rick Danko (bass), Unknown (drums).

6) The Family Dog:  By John Simon. John Herald (vocal), John Simon (piano, back-up vocal), Peter Yarrow (back-up vocal), Bill Crow (bass), Bill Lavorgna (drums), Unknown (guitar), Unknown (guitar).

7) The Nude Dance:  By Hamsa El Din. Hamsa El Din (uood)

8) My Name is Jack:  By John Simon. John Simon (vocal, Wurlitzer piano), Paul Griffin (Wurlitzer piano solo), Bill Crow (bass), Bill Lavorgna (drums), All stuffs in A&R Studio (back-up vocals), Unknown (guitar).

9) I Got You Babe:  By Sonny Bono. Tiny Tim (vocal), Elaenor Baruchian (vocal), Robbie Robertson (guitar), Garth Hudson (organ), Richard Manuel (piano), Rick Danko (bass), Unknown (drums).

10) You are What You Eat:  By John Simon/Peter Yarrow. Paul Butterfield (vocal, harp), Paul Griffin (organ), Bill Crow (bass), Bill Lavorgna (drums), Unknown (guitar), Unknown (guitar).

11) Beach Music:  By John Simon. John Simon (piano), Bill Crow (bass), Bill Lavorgna (drums), Unknown (guitar).

12) The Wabe:  By John Simon/Peter Yarrow. Peter Yarrow (vocal), John Simon (vocal), Paul Griffin (organ), Bill Crow (bass). The song was named after the first verse of Jabberwocky. The lyrics to the song and the poem are: "'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves/ Did gyre and gimble in the wabe./ All mimsy were the borogoves,/ And the mome raths outgrabe."

13) Don't Remind Me Now of Time:  By John Simon/Peter Yarrow. Peter Yarrow (vocal, acoustic guitar), John Simon (harpsicord).

14) Painting for a Freakout:  By John Simon. John Simon (piano), Bill Crow (bass), Bill Lavorgna (drums), Unknown (guitar), Marvin Stamm? (trumpet), Artie Koplan? (tenor sax).

15) Freakout:  By John Simon, performed by "John Simon & The Electric Flag". John Simon (moog, ondiolin), Mike Bloomfield (guitar) Harvey Brooks (bass), Buddy Miles (drums), Herbie Rich (tenor sax, organ) Marcus Doubleday (trumpet), Stemsy Hunter (alto sax)

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