Quite by accident I recently came across the film
Monterey Pop, a documentary on the 1967
Monterey Pop Festival by D. A. Pennebaker.
The movie features performances of some of the
best groups of the time — Canned Heat, Jefferson
Airplane, Janis Joplin, The Mamas and the Papas,
as well as a pair of very incindiary sets by The
Who and Jimi Hendrix (Hendrix's being incindiary
in the quite literal sense).
There was a lot of background. The concertgoers
themselves are very much a part of this historical
record. I watched with fascination the faces of the
crowd, their clothing, the booths that sold peanuts
or batik wall hangings. The young people of my day
— the late 70s and 80s — didn't exactly hang batik
in their apartment. We were more into a minimalist
type space with only a stereo and a couch and a bed.
But it occurred to me that it was really all the same
in some strange way: Decorative items might express
differences in culture but the overall purpose of
such is always the same — to transform ourselves and
create the world. My own generation for the most part
was pessimistic, cynical. The young people at Monterey
seemed idealistic, spiritual. But it makes no difference.
The creativity of both generations has flown out into
It also occurred to me watching the concertgoers that
a good number of them must now be dead. I guess that
makes no difference really either. The soul moves on.
But with all the great artists at the festival, it was
Ravi Shankar who blew everybody's mind. Morning raga,
evening raga, whatever — his set was four hours long
but even the 18 minutes presented by the video seems
It is magnificent.
Dhun (Dadra and Fast Teental)
1967 Monterey Pop Festival.