Haight-Ashbury, love-ins, the peace sign, The Vietnam War protests...the list is endless. As a rock and roll radio DJ of this era I was exposed to more than my fair share of this lifestyle. While my conservative friends of today might be surprised at this revelation, I was a product of the 60's, hanging out with recording artists, single, and tasting from the banquet of life.
Luckily, I woke up to the risks I was taking and stopped sometime around my mid 20's, about the time I met my wife-to-be. The thrills were gone and the lifestyle no longer satisfied me.
Flash forward almost forty years (oh my heavens...really?). The phrase sex, drugs, and rock n' roll has a somewhat different meaning to us today. A post from April, Sex: At Our Age? After Retirement?, took a look at the changes in attitudes and expectations of this rather important part of human relationships. Studies show that healthy adults can anticipate maintaining a sexual life into the 7th or even 8th decade of life. No longer a "test" of performance or virility, sex becomes just one part of an overall, mature, intimate relationship with another person. Usually it is no longer the main course, but part of a well balanced diet.
In the 60's and 70's drugs, not unlike sex, were for recreational purposes. Many of us were not immune to the allure of marijuana, hash, or even LSD. I must quickly add that I never tried, nor had any interest in LSD. But, unlike Bill Clinton, I did inhale the other substances. The most profound effects were sleepiness and the munchies.
Today, drugs mean pills to help me sleep, battle allergies, or the stiffness that comes from arthritis. For my age (64 today!) I take fewer pills than many of my peers. I am more likely to down a handful of vitamins and minerals to keep what is functioning in working order.
Rock N' Roll used to be the central core of of my life. As a DJ I was exposed to music all day, everyday. Except when I was asleep, rock music was always playing. Four to six hours a day I'd be in a small radio studio, music blaring at full blast. At home a Jethro Tull or Beatles album would immediately be started upon my return to my apartment. Since my roommate was also a disc jockey, we were never not talking about or listening to the latest hits. Rock music paid my bills.
Today, rock n' roll is about memories. When I want to relax I will put on classical or solo piano music. Occasionally during a weekend of house cleaning, a Beatles, Beach Boys, or Chicago CD will be cranked up. The RV was stocked with dozens of CDs for the 3 week trip we just ended. But, music, in any form is no longer the constant companion it was.
Once a week I do take part in a ham radio gathering of people who like to discuss 60's music and television shows. One fellow is near Washington, D.C., another in Omaha, still another in Indiana, and a handful from Tucson, Prescott, and Phoenix. We have a great time trying to answer rather obscure trivia questions. Because of my former profession I have an unfair advantage, so I usually answer last. It is fun and I continue to learn something new most weeks.
Sex, drugs, and rock 'n roll: a simple phrase that captured much of what I remember about my early adulthood. Isn't it interesting that, with a very different interpretation, the same words continue to resonate today.
Today is my 64th birthday. My first Social Security check gets deposited in my account next month. I'm celebrating by getting a new smartphone. The old one has a crack across the screen when I dropped it on the bathroom floor. Not as fascinating as my life once was, but that's the way it is.