Love is… the Swinging Sixties

So life was never better than
In nineteen sixty-three
(Though just too late for me) –
Between the end of the “Chatterley” ban
And the Beatles’ first LP.

That’s how Philip Larkin concluded his famous poem, Annus Mirabilis, though why he said life was never better than in 1963 you will have to find out for yourself. Read the poem. See the first line. Now you see why it couldn’t be mentioned here?

Actually, 1963 was too early for me, but never mind. The Swinging Sixties was the most glorious decade reckoning. I didn’t catch the Beatles’ first hit immediately after it came out, but I caught on pretty soon, oh yes,

Love, love me do
You know I love you

(That was their first hit)

And what a medley of hits followed: Please Please Me, She Loves You, I Want To Hold Your Hand, Can’t Buy Me Love, A Hard Day’s Night.

So here they are. I Saw Her Standing There was on the flip side of the US release of I Want To Hold Your Hand, according to Wikipedia.

And let’s not forget the Rolling Stones. Mick Jagger & Co began making waves soon after the Fab Four. Remember Come On, Not Fade Away, Carol, It’s All Over Now, Time Is On My Side, The Last Time?

Not Fade Away by the Rolling Stones.

And how can we forget Elvis Presley?

There’s the King, from his 1968 Comeback Special. Wow!

The 60s were historic also for other reasons: the flower power, the psychedelia, Woodstock.

Country Joe and The Fish at Woodstock.

But all that came later, after the Beatles and the Stones and the King.

The Sixties were great not just for the music. There were also the writers: new kids on the block like John Le Carre, grizzled veterans like Graham Greene, old fogeys like PG Wodehouse.

Here is Liverpool Scene performing Adrian Henri’s poem, Love Is. You can read the poem, Love Is, here. I love it.

It’s all history now, but that’s why I am posting this – lest we forget. I want to hang on to the memory.

A couple of days ago, a friend, who is a grandpa now, posted on Facebook that his grandson, not yet five years old, one day wanted to listen to the BBC.

That reminded me how I started listening to the BBC World Service as a teenager. Initially, I was drawn to the pop music programmes. I remembered listening to the Top 20, Scene And Heard, Dave Symonds Show, Dave Lee Travis, Jimmy Savile, Tony Blackburn, Emperor Rosko, but I couldn’t recall all the names. Only later did I recall Top Of The Pops. I never saw the TV show, but it used to be broadcast also on the BBC World Service.

The Stones performing The Last Time on Top Of The Pops.

I will end with a poem I love that’s so, so Sixties, pop, surreal, beautiful. Tonight at Noon, by Adrian Henri. Yes, I have posted it before, but here’s it again, the whole poem and the video.

Tonight at Noon
By Adrian Henri

Tonight at noon
Supermarkets will advertise 3p extra on everything
Tonight at noon
Children from happy families will be sent to live in a home
Elephants will tell each other human jokes
America will declare peace on Russia
World War I generals will sell poppies on the street on November 11th
The first daffodils of autumn will appear
When the leaves fall upwards to the trees

Tonight at noon
Pigeons will hunt cats through city backyards
Hitler will tell us to fight on the beaches and on the landing fields
A tunnel full of water will be built under Liverpool
Pigs will be sighted flying in formation over Woolton
And Nelson will not only get his eye back but his arm as well
White Americans will demonstrate for equal rights
In front of the Black house
And the monster has just created Dr. Frankenstein

Girls in bikinis are moonbathing
Folksongs are being sung by real folk
Art galleries are closed to people over 21
Poets get their poems in the Top 20
There’s jobs for everybody and nobody wants them
In back alleys everywhere teenage lovers are kissing in broad daylight
In forgotten graveyards everywhere the dead will quietly bury the living
You will tell me you love me
Tonight at noon