January 28, 2019

Sex, Drugs, and Rock and Roll: How Times Have Changed


For me there are a few phrases that bring back strong memories of the 1960's and early 70's: "if it feels good, just do it,"  "sock it to me," and "Sex, drugs, and rock 'n roll." This last one was meant to convey the free and open attitude embodied by the newly energized, British-led music invasion and the free-love, pot-smoking message conveyed by much of that music.

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, single, hanging out with recording artists, and tasting from the sometimes risky banquet of life.

Luckily, I woke up to the risks I was taking and stopped sometime in 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 fifty years (oh my heavens...really?). The phrase sex, drugs, and rock n' roll has a somewhat different meaning to us today. An older post,  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 8th decade, or even later. 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,  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. My wife has used medical marijuana for a time (very legal in Arizona) to help manage some of her problems.

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 always 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, French lounge music, or newer folk music. Occasionally during a weekend of house cleaning, a Beatles, Beach Boys, or Chicago CD will be cranked up. When we owned one, our RV was stocked with dozens of CDs. But, on a daily basis music, in any form, is no longer the constant companion it once was. Spotify tries to get me to listen more, but so far.......

Every 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.





9 comments:

  1. Although not a DJ like yourself, we had a lot of similarities in our past life, and a lot of similarities in our current stage. I was steeped in the late 60s and early 70s rock, and for me the best music essentially ended with that era (maybe a few decent rock songs in the mid to later 70s but not like the earlier period). Was a huge part of my life from partying and just plain enjoyment, but now? I listen occasionally, watch videos on YouTube for nostalgia, but for the most part listen to CNBC on Sirius when I am in the truck. Maybe the lack of any musical ability by most acts for the last few decades has killed the desire to listen to music any longer.

    Many of us took advantage of those easy times to sow our wild oats. I lived during the 70s in Boulder, which was a great place to experiment in all areas. But as I hit my early 20s things started to wane and by my mid 20s I was ready to move onto married life and settle down. Probably the best thing that could have happened to both of us was being with Betty and Deb and I am very thankful for how it worked out. Many friends were not so lucky, whether it was from drugs they could not shake, or AIDS, or whatever else got them way too young. Rock on, Bob!

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    1. We woke up in time to know that lifestyle wasn't sustainable or very satisfying. Isn't it interesting, though, to consider the place of marijuana in society. It went from illegal but widely used to legal in some places and for some purposes but still treated like a risky choice by many. Old habits die hard.

      BTW: I have discovered so many fabulous piano artists on Spotify that are my go-to choices now.

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  2. No fast times for me in my youth, compared to many others I guess I was pretty tame. I was always a big music fan and still am but it was all about the music and not the lifestyle for me, I couldn't have afforded the lifestyle anyway. Then again, I spent so much of my years from age 16 to 29 working hard trying to keep my life together and put myself through school. With children and career immediately after that I think I was in my mid-40s before I had a chance to look up. Still, I am happy with how it's turned out and no regrets.

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    1. We all take different paths to find what is best for us. I am glad I had the experiences I did in my 20's...lots of memories. But, I know a few people who stuck with that lifestyle for far too long and never really grew up.

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  3. What strikes me is how much of the old stuff is still played on youtube, sirius, spotify, etc. It almost seems as though it never went away. Anyway, my son's in the music business so I'm occasionally exposed to modern rock artists. I don't follow who they are, but some of them are pretty good. Try out The Front Bottoms.

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    1. I listen to Spotify's Discover Weekly to hear new artists, several of which I enjoy. I will check out the Front Bottoms.

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  4. A friend just sent me a link to Joan Price's website -- she openly and unapologetically discusses all aspects of sex for seniors. All you ever wanted to know and much much more. Ha!

    As for me, I embraced all aspects of that 60s slogan with enthusiasm, but wouldn't live like that now. I say that without judgment or regret -- just a different stage of life.

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    1. I am on vacation with the grandkids in Orlando. But, when I return home, I will take a look at Ms. Price's site!

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  5. Rob lived the hippy lifestyle in his teens and early twenties, including the drug use, communal houses, and plenty of rock and roll. However, he aspired to having a career, wife, and family, so left it all behind by the end of his twenties. However, several of his close friend from high school continued to live the hippy lifestyle throughout their lives, and, seeing their lives now, I am not sure how happy they are with their choice.

    Although I grew up in an area of BC that was a popular destination for back-to-the-landers/American draft dodgers, and still count several of them as friends, I was pretty straight-laced. I was determined to get a university education and a have a career that would support me. Driven and ambitious rather than free love and laid back would describe me then; I was determined not to get distracted from my path even though I found the back-to-the-land lifestyle alluring. As for music, it always has played an important part in my life, beginning with classic rock and folk music, then expanding to include blues, jazz, reggae, singer-songwriters, world music, and instrumentals.

    Jude

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